Telecoms in a world of 5G will be very different to what you think

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A lot of people used to wish that telecoms would blossom into an amazing, interactive, customer focused industry that would be at the heart of, well, everything. Some people still wish for this nirvana and some telecoms companies may achieve some of this dream. The role of telecoms is one that we discuss endlessly.

Yet sometimes someone says something that lifts a weight off your shoulders, while making you feel a bit sad at the same time.

Such a someone and such a something was Damien Dujacquier of Roland Berger at the recent ConnecTechAsia show, which has taken the place of CommunicAsia.

He said many things during his (eight minute) interview with Tony Poulos – that Asia Pacific would lead the charge in 5G rollout and that regulators must follow technology innovation otherwise they will stifle it.

He also said that the telecoms industry would become a supporting industry, not a leading one.

Thus the relief and sadness mixture.

We have been saying for some time now that the IoT would ‘disappear’. By which we meant that we would stop referring to connected things as an Internet of Things, because everything would be connected. Every shipping container will be connected, every trash can, drinks machine and heart monitor will be connected and we will not say ‘Ah, thank goodness for the IoT’ we will say ‘that’s cool’.

The same is true for 5G.

For years now we have been trying to find the business case for 5G (and, if we are honest 4G) and the answer, according to Dujacquier, is that we – as in the telecoms industry – won’t. And, more importantly, we don’t need to.

Just as the IoT will disappear, so will 5G (and 4G since we are being honest).

The success of 5G, says Dujacquier, depends entirely on the whole ecosystem working together. So, we believe, will the business cases.

We know that the technology enables almost anything. We know that speed is just one part of the puzzle. Dramatic latency improvements will enable so much more than greater speed.

So while all of this will translate to amazing advances in consumer fun and efficiency through technologies such as VR and AR, the real advances will come from other arenas that see ubiquitous speed and latency as the way their industry reaches it full potential.

If you live in the telecoms world you will have heard speeches that tell you that the telecoms bill for most industries is about 1% of the total budget. Whatever ‘G’ we have, the same ratio will apply. Connected containers for the shipping industry will produce huge benefits, efficiencies and savings, yet remain a fraction of the cost for the industry. Connected healthcare, together with many other advances, will revolutionize that sector. And the same is true of almost any other arena.

So, while we continue to discuss the role of telecoms in our lives, perhaps we can feel the relief that it will be other industries that drive the consumption (and revenue) of 5G and whatever comes after that.

And perhaps we should also feel a little sad that our role will just be a supporting one.

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