The 5G era promises to deliver incredible mobile broadband speeds to consumers and business alike, transforming society and ushering in a host of socio-economic benefits. It’s expected to be the panacea that will address a diverse array of requirements and use cases such as enhanced transportation, public services and healthcare. We will even be able to ‘slice’ networks to cater to the specific requirements of different business needs. However, before we can realise this vision, there are a number of challenges and complexities mobile operators and the wider industry need to overcome first. The most pressing concern includes how operators will cover the immense investment costs and outlay on resources, which come at a time when ARPU is stagnating in many markets around the world.
To tackle this problem, the GSMA aims to become a de facto hub for encouraging innovative companies to develop and showcase their products and services that will help to bring down the cost of implementing 5G. The GSMA will also provide a knowledge base to support operators and vendors in the development of solutions that will help to usher in the 5G era.
The project will focus on three specific areas:
- Infrastructure Sharing: For example building an efficient data centre and sharing its resources rather than building multiple plots.)
- Energy Efficiency: For example by powering hub sites with solar panels to reduce costs.
- Backhaul Relief: For example, driving efficiencies during network ‘quiet’ periods to increase speeds and reduce costs.
The GSMA is inviting innovation companies to submit examples at its Innovator Submission Portal against these three themes of how their innovative technologies can deliver efficiencies and support operators in the delivery of the 5G era.
The GSMA is also launching the Future Networks BETA Labs which is the portal for all of the GSMA’s work in this area. BETA Labs will combine interactive, experiential events with information and data to support industry experts, operators and technology providers with the aim of increasing collaboration, cost reduction and enhanced processes on the road to 5G. The first Labs events will start at Mobile World Congress Americas later this year and will showcase leading innovators in the fields of Energy Efficiency, Backhaul Relief and Infrastructure Sharing.
The GSMA’s Future Network programme has also developed a ‘Network Economic Model’ designed to help mobile operators accelerate the delivery of 5G networks by unlocking additional value from them in a cost efficient way. The model baselines existing network topology and then overlays new disruptive and innovative technologies that can deliver efficiencies or new revenues. The results are then evaluated for their potential impact with the aim of showcasing the best results and identifying collaborative actions to support operators.