5G has quickly become a technology that will affect everyone everywhere. While networks are still in the early deployment phase, the worldwide rollout has already begun. Almost every day we see a new announcement on another 5G deployment. GSMA Intelligence has reported that almost 110 operators in almost 50 countries will have launched new 5G networks by the end of 2020.
In tandem, as we enter 2021 mobile operators will soon be running full cloud-native networks to enable the full potential of 5G. Cloud providers such as Amazon, Google and Oracle, are partnering with mobile operators to rollout Open radio access networks (ORAN) and bring edge technology to enterprises. In fact, ORAN and edge computing platforms’ availability are driving growth worldwide. Multiple suppliers are beginning to offer innovative solutions, while continuing to reduce their costs as they are expanding services.
The first ORAN based network have been announced and started deployment. Back in April, DISH announced its greenfield wireless network, which will deploy a 5G standalone (SA) network using ORAN architecture. While in Japan, Rakuten upgraded consumers in major cities with access to ORAN 5G network capabilities. A wide range of new uses based on low latency and high bandwidth will allow consumers to quickly access and experience new applications. The success of those deployments is leading more businesses to consider adopting open networks as opposed to the traditional proprietary models.
Counterintuitively, most operators have realized that these new 5G networks will not drive consumer interest or directly lead to a higher revenue per user. Straightforward consumer adoption and proliferation will not lead to immediate revenue increases. So then why continue to invest so heavily in 5G deployments? It’s because 5G growth for operators will be driven by the huge demand for new enterprise applications. Due to the growth in digital transformation and trend to software-defined networking, businesses will increasingly pay for private networks, higher speeds, new functionalities, network slicing, and other capabilities offered by 5G networks.