The 5G era promises to deliver incredible mobile broadband speeds, 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 this vision is realised, there are a number of challenges and complexities mobile operators and the wider industry need to overcome.
The most pressing concern includes how operators will cover the immense investment costs and outlay on resources, which come at a time when the average revenue per user (ARPU) is stagnating in many markets around the world and competition from within and outside of the mobile / telecom sector is increasingly fierce. This will include investment in new infrastructure, upgrades to existing sites and spectrum licenses. For 5G to be a success, investment must be delivered alongside measures to unlock additional value from the network in a cost-efficient manner, while keeping both CapEx and OpEx at a minimum.
The GSMA BETA Labs was established in MWC Americas 2018 and is the portal for all of the GSMA’s work in this area and combines interactive, experiential events with information and data to support industry experts, operators and technology providers with the aim of increasing collaboration, cost reduction and enhancing processes on the road to 5G. The BETA Labs is part of the Network Economics workstream in the Future Networks programme, which profiles cost-reducing innovation in the 5G era. The project also aims to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by promoting the use of affordable and clean energy (SGD 7), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG13) as well as access to education. GSMA BETA Labs includes an online hub, which connects innovative companies of all sizes directly with global operators as well as a knowledge base to support operators and vendors in the development of solutions. Principally, it focuses on four specific areas:
- Infrastructure Sharing: For example, building an efficient data centre and sharing its resources rather than building multiple plots or in the case of CCS & Telefonica, small cell deployment in the City of London.
- Energy Efficiency: For example, by powering hub sites with solar panels to reduce costs as in the NTT Docomo Green Base station or enabling intelligent connectivity on site
- Backhaul Relief: For example, driving efficiencies during network ‘quiet’ periods to increase speeds and reduce costs through to alternative transmission techniques such as SKT’s 5G PON.
- Automation and Artificial Intelligence as a means to enable more efficient networks, for example, Huawei’s Powerstar
GSMA BETA Labs has already identified a number of innovative companies such as CCS, GenCell, and Viavi who are operating across these different areas to drive efficiencies and support a reduction in 5G related costs. Access the online hub here to read current case studies.
The GSMA Future Networks programme has also developed a ‘Network Economic Model’ (NEM) 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.
Through verification by the NEM, and validation from a GSMA Board Member Operator, the cost reduction opportunities identified from these case studies have now exceeded $500m. Companies interested in being profiled are invited to submit their details at our Innovator Submission Portal.
BETA Labs continues to find new examples of innovative companies delivering more industry-wide saving that will deliver 5G services sooner.
To access the case study portfolio, please visit: www.gsma.com/futurenetworks/network-economics/resources-network-economics/network-economics-annual-report-2019/
To get involved as a Beta Labs Innovator, attend one of the events or for further information, please visit: www.gsma.com/betalabs
The next GSMA Beta Labs will take place at MWC Shanghai 2019, find out more and sign up here.