Real Wireless bolsters independent expertise with raft of new appointments

Independent wireless advisory firm Real Wireless today announces the appointment of several new experts. These experts strengthen the company’s ability to analyse and advise on both the commercial and technical opportunities and challenges of wireless technologies and networks.

Professor William Webb is an independent expert specialising in wireless technology and regulatory matters, and his experience brings valuable insight to Real Wireless. William isa former director of Ofcom, where he led major reviews including the Spectrum Framework Review and the development of Spectrum Usage Rights.

Professor Webb commented: “Real Wireless is one of the most technically competent and experienced independent wireless firms around. Real Wireless has played a key role in the evolution of cellular technology and is now at the heart of the 5G debate, taking part in key studies such as the European Commission’s 5G socioeconomic benefits report. Given my experience at Ofcom and roles advising Government and others, the fact that Real Wireless is heavily involved in 5G research and development was particularly appealing.”

Rethink Technology Research co-founder Caroline Gabriel, MA, joins Real Wireless as a market research and telecoms industry analyst. Caroline has been researching and analysing the telecoms and technology industries for many years with an emphasis on wireless and broadband technologies, business models and operator deployment plans.

Ian Miller joins following his departure from Telefónica earlier this year where he worked for over 25 years. As director of mobile access networks at Telefónica he reported to the global CTO and was responsible for mobile radio network development and strategy across the group. His vast knowledge and experience in mobile network innovation, design, architecture, implementation and systems engineering is a great asset for Real Wireless to be able to offer its clients.

In addition to these appointments, Real Wireless has also enhanced its team with the arrival of Dr Mike Smith, an expert in mobile networks, Dr Ilya Averin, a systems analyst and Daniel Bradford a communications and signal-processing expert.

Real Wireless CEO Mark Keenan said: “As these appointments demonstrate, Real Wireless is continuing to go from strength to strength. We’ve been working on a variety of wireless projects across the world, including leading edge 5G projects such as the recently published European Commission 5G Socio-economic study and the ongoing 5G NORMA project. We’re committed to remaining one of the UK’s leading independent wireless advisories, and these appointments will help us deliver even more benefits to our clients.”

Demise of GSM-R highlights the need for radical rethinking of wireless communications in the rail industry

train-railway-s-bahn-transportThe International Railway Union has recently called for a replacement for the GSM-R network to be developed as a matter of urgency.

GSM-R is the modified version of GSM, which was developed for the specific needs of the rail industry’s operational needs. However, as the TelecomTV article above points out, the technology has had a notoriously volatile history and is now past its prime.

GSM-R was originally developed in the 1990s to deliver a specific set of functionality for the rail industry, but it was decided that it would use spectrum outside of the main GSM frequencies.

This decision meant that GSM-R required completely bespoke equipment, which in turn significantly raised the cost of deployment and has created commercial challenges ever since for the rail industry. As the International Railway Union itself said: “The use of … GSM-R has proven expensive for the railways, both in terms of capital and operational expenditure.”

The challenge for the industry is that while GSM-R is now nearing the end of its life, the ETCS (European Train Control System) is due to be in place until 2050 and as such, the rail industry needs a replacement solution for GSM-R. Currently there are many different views on the functionality and technology of a GSM-R replacement with LTE and 5G being ‘in the frame’. Whether the use of such technologies in near commercial off-the-shelf variants is some way away from being decided.

What this highlights is that wireless communications continue to be a major challenge for the rail industry — and clearer strategic thinking is the only way the industry is going to solve its challenges.

As our recent report Under pressure: tackling railway connectivity in 2016 outlined, on-board connectivity for passengers also remains a significant technical and commercial challenge for rail operators.

Part of the challenge is that there is a disconnect between the issue of on-board connectivity and how a solution could be architected in such a way to bolster rail operators’ safety-critical operational requirements. Any investment in new infrastructure for improving passenger experiences doesn’t have to be siloed. In fact, we see a huge opportunity for infrastructure investments to also support on-board train operator services, as well as potentially safety-critical functionality. Each new service supported by upgraded infrastructure creates its own opportunities for generating value, thereby helping to recoup investment.

The introduction of new standards, technologies and systems into the rail environment tends, for many reasons, to be a slow process — thankfully matched by long asset lives.

With the multiple challenges of providing broadband wireless for passenger and on-train staff use and replacing GSM-R in train control applications, this does provide the industry the opportunity to investigate whether one system could ultimately serve all requirements. Much like the emergency services moving to public cellular networks — something perhaps unthinkable not that many years ago — the rail industry might have to rethink wireless connectivity. The scale, complexity and safety critical nature of rail systems means this will be very challenging to say the least.

You can read more of our thoughts on these issues or feel free to contact us directly.

Why data analytics is key to the future of mobile networks and user experience

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It’s become common now for the big vendors to provide the telecoms and wireless industries with a regular view of the growth or decline in various sorts of traffic, services and devices.

The most recent update comes from Ericsson, with the publication of its latest Ericsson Mobility Report covering the period to 2021. As you might perhaps expect, Ericsson has forecast significant growth in a wide range of factors. Some of the highlight figures include:

  • Mobile broadband subscriptions: CAGR of 15%
  • LTE subscriptions: CAGR of 25%
  • Data traffic per smartphone: CAGR of 35%
  • Total mobile data traffic: CAGR of 45%

Video to dominate traffic growth
Ericsson expects video to continue to play a large part in the data traffic growth. In 2015 video was some 40–55% of the total mobile data traffic depending on the device type and is forecast to have a CAGR of 55% to 2021. By 2021 Ericsson forecasts that video will account for some 70% of mobile data traffic. As the report notes: “Today’s teens… have no experience of a world without online video streaming.”

To meet such growth, LTE continues to provide fast speeds with current deployments providing up to 600Mbps (Cat 11), which will grow to 1Gbps LTE (Cat 16) with deployments in in 2016 according to Ericsson.

5G to start in 2020
Looking beyond 4G and the massive growth, Ericsson forecasts that 5G services will commence in 2020 based on ITU IMT2020 standards, and that there will be 150 million 5G subscribers by 2021 led by rollouts in South Korea, Japan, China and the US.

IoT to overtake mobile phones
In one of the most eye-catching predictions, Ericsson suggests that the number of IoT connected end points — such as cars, machines, smart meters and consumer tech — will overtake the number of mobile phones in 2018. IoT devices are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 23% over the period, and what is worth noting is the connectivity types including non-cellular IoT connectivity and the various low-power wide-area (LPWA) proprietary systems like SIGFOX, LoRa and Ingenu. Ericsson forecasts non-cellular IoT to be almost 10 times the cellular IoT by 2021.

VoLTE set for rapid growth
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) also features in the report. Ericsson forecasts that the 100 million VoLTE subscriptions at the end of 2015 will increase to 2.3 billion by 2021 — representing over 50% of all LTE subscriptions. In the US, Canada, South Korea and Japan this figure rises to over 80%.

What does this all mean?
One of the key conclusions from the report is that managing the user experience is key for network operators and infrastructure providers – and all of the trends highlighted above are making that an increasingly complex challenge. As such, Data analytics are increasingly being applied to find the relationship between user experience and network performance statistics. Such an understanding is vital for operators to prioritise network investment as well as keep churn low. As the data from the report shows, operators face many calls on capex and opex as new technology combined with new use cases (and hopefully more spectrum), gives operators new opportunities and as well new challenges.

Of course, vendors put time and effort in to these reports to bring these challenges into sharp focus for the operators along with whatever solutions the vendor may have to offer. Real Wireless provides deep independent expertise in all of the areas and topics covered in such vendor reports including LTE, 5G and IoT. We’re involved in the business, technology, regulation and markets, working with all parts of the ecosystem including vendors, operators, regulators and end users. We help bring clarity and understanding to the challenges as well as the opportunities in the wireless world — without bias.

Solving the Wi-Fi challenge on trains

4479165212_390daa988d_oIt’s been just over a year since the government announced its ambitious target to have free Wi-Fi on trains by 2017. While the intention is obviously a good one (who doesn’t want connectivity on trains?) there are still significant barriers in place that are hindering the country’s changes of getting anywhere close to that target.

I was recently at an event called Going Underground a couple of weeks ago discussing the ins and outs of connectivity on trains. What’s clear from that event is that there are technical challenges with on-board Wi-Fi that won’t go away. Wi-Fi’s access technology “Carrier Sense Multiple Access – Collision Avoidance” (CSMA-CA) is not designed for high-density environments, such as busy commuter trains in rush hour with high capacity demand caused by a large number of concurrent users. In other words, when everyone on a train is trying to use on-board Wi-Fi at the same time to stream live sport or the latest Game of Thrones episode, we drive Wi-Fi into its limitations.

The technical limitation in such a high usage scenario lies in the way the Wi-Fi access points and devices interact with each other. To avoid data collisions, devices “sense” the Wi-Fi channel — listening to see if another device is transmitting data. Once a device sees that the channel is busy, it backs off to avoid collision of data, and a counter starts to count down before the device checks again to see if the air interface (the channel) is available. So, when too many users try to transmit data, devices start to go through a downward spiral of repeatedly backing off and trying again, thereby reducing the AP efficiency by 50% or even much more depending on the number of users trying to access it — resulting in less capacity per access point for more concurrent users.

Peak hour trains on busy commuter routes in particular take a triple whammy when it comes to on-board Wi-Fi:

  1. The sheer number of people trying to access a single access point overloads the system
  2. The sheer amount of bodies in one train can attenuate the signal between the access point and devices, rendering it poor (meaning low efficiency) to useless
  3. Peak trains tend to be full of commuters whose data needs tend to be far greater than non-commuters, which, again, overloads the system

Small cells, in particular femtocells, might be a better solution than Wi-Fi because they are more efficient when handling a high number of concurrent users and high traffic — but that still doesn’t solve the the backhaul challenge. Performance is always limited to whatever the backhaul can achieve, which is typically 4G. Hence, if there’s no mobile coverage, the whole on-board connectivity system — whether it’s Wi-Fi or femtocell based — is useless. Connectivity systems could use satellite backhaul for rural locations, but that in itself is a very expensive option. Alternatively, connectivity systems can use on-board repeaters, which don’t need backhaul and bring the signal outside the train to the users inside. On-board repeaters, though, still rely on reasonable outside coverage.

However, none of these technical challenges are insurmountable, with the exception of the inherent Wi-Fi technology challenges.

We do believe that the main barrier to enhancing on-board connectivity is the business model. We also believe that the requirement for trains should be on-board connectivity and capacity, independent of specific technology (such as Wi-Fi). At the moment, mobile network operators don’t have a revenue incentive to cover railway tracks or install on-board equipment because in a world of fixed and all-you-can-eat data packages, the average revenue per user (ARPU) doesn’t increase with incremental coverage and capacity on trains.

Therefore, the business case is the biggest bottleneck at the moment to improving on-board connectivity. If the government truly wants to provide Wi-Fi on 90% of journeys by 2018, it will have to manufacture a business case through regulation in order to kick things along.

Our own research a few years ago found that a clear business case could exist if the industry looks beyond Wi-Fi to mobile connectivity as a whole. We also found that on-board equipment deployment is cheaper than improving outdoor coverage to such a level that users inside the train could be served from outside. A business case would therefore have to clearly list the benefits to multiple parties, including advertisers (amongst many others), who would be able to clearly see the opportunity for ad revenue based on the length of passenger journeys, and rail companies, who could use the connectivity to improve day-to-day operations to become more efficient.

The future of wireless and the case for exploring verticals in 5G

CdGpWwtW4AAQjhTAs we outlined last month in our guide to the challenges facing 5G and IoT, the connected devices of the future offer real potential to make existing businesses, services and utilities more efficient and more effective — better tailoring the service they provide.

In the wireless industry, the reality is that there is limited appetite to pursue the new generation of wireless technology (5G) for the industry’s own sake. Despite rapid takeup of LTE (4G) cellular technology, shrinking profit margins are affecting infrastructure spending, leaving finances that may not look attractive to investors and cause difficulties for a further round of investment so soon after completing the last round of upgrades.

The real business case for 5G, therefore, needs to come from the vertical industries that will benefit from the technology.

The rationale behind this was recently vindicated by the results of the European Commission 5G socioeconomic project Real Wireless contributed to, announced in Brussels on the 9th March 2016 (which we explored in more detail in a separate blog post). Our work found that, for an approximate deployment cost of €56 billlion, 5G can be expected to generate benefits of €95.9 billion across automotive, healthcare, transport and utilities alone — per annum.

However further quantitive evidence is required for a vertical-orientated business case to be established, and it falls to the wireless industry to lead the way in kick starting this process.

Any eventual solution will need to account for not only what dynamics are at play in the verticals, but also expert input from the leaders in these vertical industries on how they will evolve in the coming decades. It’s therefore crucial that the other verticals that could benefit from 5G are stakeholders in the development of this technology, to ensure they can fully benefit.

As chair of the executive committee for Cambridge Wireless’s Future of Wireless International Conference, I believe this year’s conference will provide an important opportunity for the industry to come together and explore how wireless can impact these verticals. Not just the cost savings each vertical can enjoy, but the challenges 5G will need to overcome, the opportunities that exist and — crucially — the common themes that span across these vertical industries enabling platforms of scale.

The Future of Wireless International Conference 2016 will be held at The IET, Savoy Place, London on 21–22 June. More information and registration details can be found here: http://www.cambridgewireless.co.uk/futureofwireless/

MWC 2016 conclusions

Now the dust has settled from Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 and everyone has hopefully recovered, it’s a good time to look back on the big stories from the show this year. It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of the show, but the big stories at MWC are a great indicator for where the wireless industry is focusing its attention.

So what caught the eye of Real Wireless’s experts this year?

5G
As expected, 5G grabbed most of the headlines at the show, with Real Wireless CTO Simon Fletcher giving a number of presentations on the topic — including one that drew together our work on the EC’s 5G socioeconomic report, with the outcomes of last summer’s FWIC conference.

We found many vendors claiming to be 5G ready or compliant, essentially a marketing trick but an important one for those keen to demonstrate they are completely up to date with developments in 5G (or what they believe 5G is) in this fast-paced market.

Some particularly interesting demos included those that highlighted current developments in 5G, for example the 5GIC/University of Surrey 5G demo on the Cobham stand, demonstrating how a massive multi-antenna array can serve many connected IoT users within a cell. The demo could scale to show the impact of more simultaneous IoT users in a cell and what the required throughput would be to serve them. Another demo saw 1 Gbps LTE throughput based on the aggregation of five channels of 20 MHz, each supporting 2 x 2 MIMO streams and 256 QAM based on LTE Advanced.

These demonstrations are still examining the technology capabilities and more in-depth analysis would be required in future to determine the more practical impacts in these environments such as analysing the most appropriate propagation models and impact of clutter and terrain at frequencies above 24 GHz.

There are encouraging signs of nascent engagements with verticals, though not fully linked to 5G, with efforts being directed towards establishing common technology platforms. We highlighted before the show that the industry needs to play its part in liaising more closely with vertical industries to ensure 5G reaches its full potential. Regional administrations such as the European Commission were vocal on needing to see meaningful evidence of progress on this if they are to justify their level of investment to their citizens.

Has the industry demonstrated enough progress?

Our thoughts are that verticals have made a good start, but must do more to define what 5G will mean for them. After all, it’s the verticals themselves who are going to benefit most from 5G, so it makes senses for them to be involved as much as possible. Our job at Real Wireless is to bridge the gap between the technical and the business aspects, which is what we’ve been doing through numerous workshops with the European Commission.

LAA, LTE-U and MulteFire
LAA LTE, MulteFire and LTE-U featured prominently from a number of vendors — LTE in licence-exempt spectrum and LTE — Wi-Fi co-existence was the topic of much discussion throughout the week.

We were made aware of a trial in Nuremberg, Germany, which apparently attracted visits from many MNOs who are keen to see LAA LTE in action. We also saw some manufacturers starting to offer 3.5 — 3.7 GHz TDD Wi-Fi or LTE solutions, driven mainly by the 3.5 GHz band / Citizens Broadband Radio Service rules that the FCC adopted in April 2015.

The demonstrations we saw were mainly concerned with obtaining the best possible performance from these technologies, but this leaves many questions unanswered regarding how to ensure “fairness” when Wi-Fi remains the most densely deployed technology in the unlicensed bands.

Small cells
For yet another year, small cells have still not seen the levels of takeup analysts predicted, which could be a risk to vendors that are increasingly being pressured to demonstrate a return on investment.

That said we continue to see some genuinely interesting innovations in the sector, including CommScope (who acquired Airvana in 2015) re-using spectrum over multiple radios within the same cell, cells that offer four times more capacity than before, and IP Access’s innovative small cell infrastructure sharing approach. The Small Cell Forum also presented its annual update including a focus on the enterprise market, reflecting the trends we’ve seen over the last 6 months.

The missing trend
Ahead of the show we released a report on two of the biggest issues facing the industry this year; 5G and the IoT. Both are at very different stages of development but, as we explained, 2016 will be a pivotal year if either is to be a success — and the industry needs to make some big decisions if they are to reach their potential.

While 5G was clearly one of the strongest trends, the noise around IoT was not on a similar level. As we’ve seen with small cells, lots of noise around a topic at MWC does not necessarily translate in to real world development and maturity, so this is not necessarily a sign that the trend is in danger. However, it does raise questions over whether it has lost some of its steam in recent months. In the light of various proprietary and non-cellular approaches continuing to grow their deployment footprints; is the operator community really confident the NB-IoT solutions will come to market quickly enough, within the right regulatory environment, to create a competitive advantage?

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Real Wireless managing consultant Oli Bosshard (left) and principal consultant Saul Friedner (right) at MWC 2016

Real Wireless plays crucial role on spectrum requirements for 5G in European Commission 5G report

At a workshop in Brussels this week, the final results of our eagerly-awaited study on the socioeconomic impact of 5G in Europe, were presented to the European Commission and interested stakeholders.

The in-depth report has been produced by experts and academics from across the industry, including Real Wireless, who spent the past year researching the impact 5G will have on vertical industry sectors — and quantifyingthe economic value of this. The study gathered inputs from industry stakeholder workshops and existing 5G projects to determine which verticals and environments to examine in the study. It was decided to focus on four specific verticals which included healthcare, transport, automotive and utilities and four environments including smart cities, non-urban areas, smart homes, and workplaces.

Enabling verticals to explore new avenues
For the reasons we outlined in our recent report, 5G is much more than a new “mobile industry” technology, offering different benefits to different industries, enabling better machine-to-machine (M2M) communications to improve the way businesses operate.

For healthcare, 5G will pave the way for true preventative care, connecting patients with doctors anywhere, anytime. For automotive and transport, 5G can facilitate real-time telematics data to improve the way drivers interact with their vehicles, support the implementation of driverless cars creating a new media hub for passengers and also enabling authorities to better shape and manage traffic on the roads. And for utilities, 5G can turn the vision of smart meters into a genuine mass-market reality, helping consumers and businesses save money and reduce emissions.

5G — creating 2.4 million jobs and delivering benefits of €50.6 billion+
This project was established by the European Commission to fill a major void in 5G research so far, forecasting the quantitative and qualitative impact that 5G will have on society and the economy.

Real Wireless has played a pivotal role in the production of the report, working specifically on how to overcome spectrum challenges when different use cases run concurrently on the same spectrum band:

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We also were at the heart of both 5G information gathering workshops. Our business and technical expertise enabled us to bridge the gap between representatives of different verticals and those from the telecoms industry.

Forecasts in the report suggest that deployments of 5G will cost around €56 billion, creating around 2.4 million jobs. The investment will in turn deliver benefits of €95.9 billion per annum in 2025 across these four verticals — and €50.6 billion in benefits for the other four environments. Businesses will benefit from more than half (63%) of the benefits, with consumers and society receiving 37% of the benefits.

A crucial milestone in 5G development
Given the lack of significant research in to the socio-economic impact of 5G, and the important role a vertical-industry led business-case will play in any role, this report is a defining moment for the future of mobile connectivity.

The European Commission plans to publish the full report including all results in April 2016.

Why 2016 is crucial to the development of 5G and IoT — an expert briefing

RW-Manifesto-2016_coverAs we approach another Mobile World Congress (MWC), the noise is again ramping up around 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT). Many years in development, and seemingly filling newspaper column inches everywhere for just as long, it’s becoming increasingly hard for many to follow their progress.

Despite the noise, the world is still a long way off a public 5G network, and the delivery of the technology’s full economic value not expected until around 2025. This long timescale is because 5G will be unlike any other mobile standard to date — there’s incredible potential for the technology to revolutionise different verticals like automotive, healthcare and utilities.

But, whilst the mobile industry needs to lead these discussions, it’s the responsibility of all who wish to benefit to collaborate and ensure the technology works to everyone’s advantage.

As a result, getting the foundations of technology and negotiations right during 2016 is crucial to making sure the end standard reaches its full potential.

Conversely, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has existed for more than a decade, yet the consumer facing version — IoT — is still struggling to get traction. This is the result of an industry littered with multiple competing standards, no harmonisation on spectrum, and no singular roadmap for development to maximise scale economies.

So 2016 is a genuine make-or-break year for the technology; if the industry gets it right, we could see a truly universal, robust standard start to take off. If it gets it wrong, we will be left with fragmentation and clear barriers to the IoT’s future potential.

Real Wireless has been working at the forefront of both of these technology areas, across the technological, social, and economic aspects of their development, providing independent research and analysis.

This includes our work with the European Commission, research as part of 5G NORMA, and membership of the UK’s 5GIC, where we are working to understand the socioeconomic impact of 5G and how the wireless industry should engage with other vertical industries in its development.

To this end, Real Wireless today launches a short primer outlining exactly what needs to happen in 2016 for 5G and the IoT to be able to reach their full potential. This concise, comprehensible piece distils the knowledge of our many experts in to three pages, providing an essential briefing for anyone interested in the telecoms industry in 2016.

Download our summary to cut through the industry noise and find out why 2016 is a milestone year for 5G and IoT — and how the industry can make sure it gets it right.

We’re also at Mobile World Congress (MWC Barcelona, 22–25 February) next week, so please get in touch if you would like to speak with one of our experts about either of these issues in more detail.

The evolution of regulation for telecoms by 2020

Cell-TowerTelecoms regulation needs to evolve to cope with a rapidly changing industry — the traditional mechanisms are no longer working.

With mergers and new entrants complicating the marketplace, regulators must find a way to balance competition with encouraging investment and innovation while still ensuring consumers get the best service.

Greater knowledge and understanding of mergers will need to be developed, something that the current consolidation trend force. This will need to be knowledge that can be put in to practice, implementing it on a basis that does not distort competition, yields benefits to consumers, and still incentivises investment and innovation.

As a result many of these changes need to happen before 2020 to support the balance between traditional telecoms operators and OTT (over-the-top) players. At present there is a lack of symmetry on many issues such as switching, privacy and data protection, identification and safety which regulation will need to resolve.

By 2020 increased broadband rollout and superfast speeds coupled with new market entrants will have changed the fixed market — meaning that regulators will need to pay close attention to new issues as pricing, bundles, competition and barriers to entry.

Regulation in 2020 will also need to not be restricted to the management of present market conditions. It needs to play a role in supporting and encouraging the development of new fixed and mobile technologies — including 5G, G.FAST, TWDM-PON — in order to guarantee and improve the long term health of the industry. It will also need to be designed to support innovations in telecoms, particularly those that enable operators to begin investing in infrastructure that can support ultrafast dense networks.

This role will also need to extend to ensuring that less-profitable ventures, such as the extension of fibre in to rural areas, are not overlooked at the expense of new technologies and super-fast city networks.

Crucially, this is not just a challenge that the regulators themselves need to tackle. Governments also need to evolve mobile spectrum policy, enabling quicker access to spectrum for operators and balancing the needs of new entrants and incumbents. This needs to extend beyond national border, particularly in Europe where the EU needs to be implementing uniform regulation across member states to limit distortions in competition.

The need for governments to play a part in the evolution of telecoms regulation in coming years highlights how rapid the requirements of this challenge need to be met. We may be discussing the regulation of 2020, but steps need to start being taken in 2016 if we’re to be fully prepared — particularly as regulators’ remit will need to expand.

Originally published on TechUK as a guest blog during Telecoms2020 week.

Industry verticals can see the benefit of 5G — but trust is still an issue

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Last week in Brussels, Real Wireless helped deliver the second and final workshop of the “5G Socioeconomic” study for the European Commission.

The event saw attendees from four vertical sectors — automotive, healthcare, transport and utilities — each with their own needs and priorities for 5G. For example, automotive and transport were looking to reduce accidents and traffic congestion, utilities to reduce energy costs and healthcare needed to improve access and care provision.

During the workshop, participants were tasked with validating 5G for their own sector. They needed to identify the top three 5G capabilities from a list of nine which are part of the capabilities developed by the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance (NGMN) for their own industry. For each, participants captured the economic value, social value and other values — in each case identifying if the value was high, medium or low. Prioritising the capabilities helped those involved realise which were of most value to each sector.

Participants were also tasked with discussing the value of 5G in four key environments; smart homes, smart workplaces, smart cities and non-urban environments. Participants identified the economic, social, environmental and other impacts and value in each environment and subsequently mapped the results to each of the 5G capabilities.

The results — scalability is key
Understandably, the capabilities and requirements varied between sectors. So where healthcare saw the need for a “dynamic increase of network capacity on the fly”, those in utilities did not see that as a key capability.

However, almost all vertical sectors had at least one common capability requirement, such as the ability to deliver a scalable Internet of Things or sensor solution.

The ‘trust and control’ barrier
Before 5G can become a real success, however, concerns were raised around trust. With 5G, industries and businesses will be running their “virtualised” networks over third-party infrastructure. So, many were understandably concerned by the lack of control they would have over that network. Who would be liable for any costs incurred by network outages? And how would operators address concerns around security?

To address these trust issues, verticals argue that network operators will have to relinquish control of their 5G network slice or solution. If we get to a stage where there is harmonised spectrum and stable, reasonable, coherent regulation and policies, industries will buy into 5G, manufacturers will want to produce hardware, there will be economies of scale and no need for more physical networks (verticals that need a network can become MVNOs over 5G).

These findings clearly highlight that industries are willing to embrace 5G, but there are still certain aspects that need careful consideration before each widely adopts it. Based on this feedback, the project team will later write up into its second workshop report. Watch this space…