Research showing gaps in 5G availability, strategy for telcos

Research showing gaps in 5G availability, strategy for telcos

While the top global 5G operators are competing to deliver the fastest speed for their users, the amount of time users can enjoy the 5G experience is just as significant, points out mobile analytics provider Opensignal Ltd. in its latest analysis of 5G network performance.

Opensignal investigated how 10 providers across four countries approach 5G experience and what makes a positive 5G experience. The research found that even though all companies provide a faster 5G speed compared to 4G, there is a wide variation in download speeds, as well the average time users spent connected. T-Mobile, for example, will provide 5G speed more often when compared to other companies.

Opensignal notes the average 5G download speed often depends on deployment and spectrum. In this case, as Verizon is the only operator to only use mmWave (millimeter wave) spectrum, it is capable of delivering network download speeds of 500Mbps. For comparison, its 4G download speed is 27.4Mbps. The downside? Verizon customers spend the least amount of time connected to 5G of the network providers surveyed.

The slowest 5G speeds were provided by AT&T and T-Mobile U.S., (62.7Mbps and 47Mbps, respectively) because the two operators depended on low-band spectrum repurposed from 4G services. While this ensures higher coverage, other companies chose mid-band spectrum for 5G because wider channels perform better. T-Mobile topped the chart for 5G availability (as a percentage of time), with SK telecom, LG U+, and KT of South Korea taking the next three spots.

Telcos missing out on 5G enterprise opportunities

Communications service providers (CSPs) view 5G enterprise services as a goldmine to increase their revenue, but they are often excluded from early 5G enterprise deals according to a report from Omdia research that was sponsored by BearingPoint//Beyond, a provider of business support solutions for network service providers.

Weak go-to-market strategies combined with a lack of proper understanding of B2B 5G opportunities could make CSPs lose the chance of getting on a trillion-dollar train, Omdia analysts warned. While they waste time only focusing on 5G as a singular service, companies are looking for a more inclusive, far-reaching package of services and technologies.

The result of this approach is that CSPs are not leading 5G-related contracts, according to Omdia’s Enterprise 5G Innovation Tracker. Out of over 300 contracts, only 21% are led by CSPs.

“CSPs will only realize value from 5G if they can identify, partner, codevelop, implement, and run a proposition with application-specific and industry-specific specialists. CSPs that can orchestrate such a complex web of relationships will be capable of capturing a greater share of the market and will not be relegated to being one of many connectivity providers competing solely on price,” said Evan Kirchheimer, research vice president at Omdia in a statement.

Earlier research from BearingPoint//Beyond had already warned that CSPs were not up to user expectations for 5G customer services.

“The problem is that CSPs want to just sell connectivity and standardized ‘connectivity plus infrastructure’ products, while businesses want to buy more sophisticated, complete solutions that better fit their needs and require the integration of multiple technologies from multiple players,” BearingPoint//Beyond CEO Angus Ward wrote.

In its latest market research, Omdia predicts that over the next 15 years, the 5G enterprise services market may be worth $13.2 trillion, growth driven by the manufacturing sector.

Not all telcos are missing out on the opportunity, as AWS and Verizon have partnered up for wireless and edge computing services, while AT&T has partnered up with Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

During the first quarter of 2020, AT&T spent some $5B on projects, including 5G infrastructure, former CEO Randall Stephenson said in a conference call. Although Stephenson stepped down 13 years into the role, 5G and edge investments are moving forward under new leadership with full commitment to a 5G nationwide service by summer.

The danger for AT&T, Verizon, and others is that Microsoft (perhaps soon to be followed by other tech companies) has acquired wireless tech firms like Metaswitch and Affirmed Networks to help enterprises build out wireless and edge computing services – no CSP needed.

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