Next-generation 5G connectivity is set to be in high demand by both enterprises and consumers in the coming months, as the major carriers race to fulfil demand by quickly monetising their network with new commercial services.
This was the message from Huawei’s president of the carrier business group Ryan Ding, speaking on stage at the Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Zurich this week. He noted that as the rollout of 5G spreads, traditional industries are already embracing the capabilities that the technology offers.
In the consumer market, it is expected that 5G’s high bandwidth and low latency will take mobile broadband to a new level, with services such as gaming and live streaming expected to deliver better user experiences.
However, Ding noted that the business-to-business (B2B) market is where the most industry support is needed. Although the manufacturing and agriculture industries are already embracing 5G capabilities, Ding talks about the need for additional carrier services.
"It will be a long process for 5G to enable industry digital transformation," said Ding. "Carriers should develop new network capabilities, operational capabilities, and business models right now to embrace the B2B transformation."
According to a survey from network trade body GSMA, 69 per cent of operator CEOs say that enterprise is the most important space for the next-gen technology, with B2B enterprise expected to offer the most opportunities for the mobile industry.
“There are two ways to look at this, one is by talking with operators. On the other side, when we talk with enterprises and end-users, more than 60 per cent say their plan is to use 5G," Pablo Lacopino, director of ecosystem research at GSMA Intelligence told Computerworld.
“It seems there is a consensus that B2B is the opportunity, but I think the challenge is how to get that. We are still in early days and enterprise is something new, it’s a new business, so we need to learn from every experience that we try," he added.
As more and more enterprises race to digitise operations and transform their business, the main goal is often to make operations more efficient.
“The industry will need to position 5G as part of the wider digital transformation journey. 5G will be one of the key technologies that will drive this digital transformation and we can see this already with trials across regions,” Lacopino added, saying that automotive, healthcare and smart manufacturing are the fastest moving industries so far.
“Things are happening, but in terms of what can be done I think it is about collaboration,” he said. “So operators and vendors will need to collaborate and have discussions with enterprises.”
Huawei ranks itself as a leader in cross-sector collaboration, with various partnerships including with Vodafone, China Mobile and Sunrise all rolling out 5G services with the Chinese vendor.
The firm has been working hard with network providers to deliver evidence of different use cases. One example is a recently announced partnership between Huawei and UK network provider Vodafone.
Despite allegations about the security of the Chinese-headquartered multinational in the UK, which largely appear to have their roots in America's trade war with China, Vodafone continues to maintain its relationship with Huawei in its 5G rollout.
The network provider will use Huawei’s equipment for the non-core parts of its infrastructure, and alongside this Huawei is supporting Vodafone with the use of AI and Massive MIMO technology.
“Two weeks ago, we with Huawei co-sponsored the first ever 5G-based e-gaming [event] where we had more than 40 professional e-gamers actually streaming all on 5G devices,” Matt Beal, director of tech strategy and architecture at Vodafone said on stage.
According to Beal, this is just the beginning of the relatuionship and it will continue to use technologies such as augmented and virtual reality in collaboration with Huawei to identify different use cases in the future.