YOU ARE AT:5G5G's $4 trillion question: How should MNOs approach mass customization? (Reader Forum)

5G’s $4 trillion question: How should MNOs approach mass customization? (Reader Forum)

5G is ushering in a new era of faster and more efficient telecommunications, enabling the expansion of other new technologies, from automated factories to extended reality and giving users more security and control over their networks. In essence, 5G is remaking the telecom industry — and that gives MNOs the opportunity to expand their reach and revenues by building out a whole new range of services for customers in what is likely to be a very lucrative market.

Those services will revolve around customized on-premise networks, a key part of the 5G revolution. Indeed, while 5G promises speed and low latency for all customers, it is in this area of customized on-premise networks that the technology is likely to have the greatest impact.

These networks, based on the advanced speed and flexibility of 5G, will give clients control over how to utilize their resources, deploying them as needed. There are plenty of customers for these networks — enterprises, manufacturing and production facilities, university campuses, corporate offices, medical centers and many more. The value that 5G can generate is estimated to be worth at least $4.3 trillion.

Currently, deployment of enterprise networks is largely controlled by system integrators (SIs) —through no fault of MNOs, who have been busy building out large infrastructure projects that make it possible for everyone, including private customers, corporations and SIs, to take advantage of advanced telecom networks. MNOs have long done superb work in rolling out and managing national grids and critical telecom infrastructure, which requires uniformity and following regulatory rules. They have worked with a one-size-fits-all approach.

But with the 5G industry reset that is close on the horizon, MNOs now have the opportunity to enter the on-premise network market. MNOs certainly have the resources to win in this market. This will just require a pivot in their way of thinking and planning, and embracing the ideas of flexibility and customization that enterprises expect when building out their on-premise networks.

There is no question that doing this new kind of work requires utilizing tools and management methods to make it easier to tailor networks for each enterprise and still make a profit — tools that MNOs have never before employed on a wide scale.

MNOs likely have the best 5G experts any organization could hope for. But the structure of an MNO, including the division of labor in the organization, the methods used to carry out work, and the support infrastructure, are rigorously designed for the efficient development and rollout of national networks.

To succeed in the new 5G market, in addition to simply providing connectivity, MNOs need to develop unique apps and services that can help enterprises customize their private networks. They also should increase and personalize their customer service. These companies, which for the most part have been used to working with regulatory bodies and other infrastructure providers when building networks, need to start thinking about individual customers, like businesses and educational institutions.

In addition, MNOs need to focus on marketing these services to such customers, as many businesses still need to understand the advantages of on-premise 5G networks, and the increased security and customization options they offer Businesses also need to know that MNOs — the big name companies they are already familiar with — can build and run these networks.

With the right redeployment of their resources, including personalizing their marketing and sales channels, and by making sure engineering staff can design networks for each customers’ needs, MNOs can capture part of this new lucrative market. Connectivity providers that don’t do this will indeed be missing out on significant revenue opportunities.

A practical solution for many MNOs, which can facilitate servicing smaller enterprises, is to develop relationships with resellers and SIs that do have experience in developing customized RAN and building private networks. SIs have far fewer expert resources than MNOs, of course, but they could have an edge in local, private projects. Many would welcome access to the engineering, infrastructure, and financial capabilities of an MNO. Working together, MNOs and SIs could ensure that neither miss out on any 5G-related opportunity.

MNOs can roll out catalogs of services for clients who need help building their own on-premise, customized RAN. They can then develop tools that will allow for on-going localized management of those on-premise networks, keeping that line of business separate from the one they have long been responsible for — national and regional infrastructure and networks. MNOs can indeed get a piece of this burgeoning market by providing unprecedented expertise and efficiency for enterprises, and seeing market growth, revenue and profitability for their own organizations.

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