Discussions of 5G are typically focused on the new applications that consumers and enterprises can use. The other side of that coin is the money operators have to spend to do that. Think of operators as manufacturers of capacity–5G makes better use of network and spectral resources thereby making it cheaper to produce bits per hertz per second. Facing a data explosion or data tsunami or whatever disaster comparison you like, 5G gives carriers the opportunity to better serve customers in a way that could help them save money while opening up new revenue streams. But getting from today to that particular tomorrow involves a number of careful considerations.
Sam Saba, Mavenir’s vice president and head of APAC, expects 5G to reach “critical mass” next year but, for operators, it’s a huge challenge to turn 5G into a positive business case. He reflected on how LTE gave over-the-top, webscale players the ability to use networks they spent no money building to make money. “We cannot continue to do the same with 5G. If we continue…repeating what we’ve done before,” it won’t work. He said the past four generations of cellular were all about connecting people whereas 5G is about connecting people and everything else.