PARTNER FEATURE: In most industries today, organisations must navigate complex regulatory landscapes and adhere to strict compliance requirements to avoid costly fines and legal consequences. This is particularly true for mobile network operators (MNOs), who are subject to a range of regulations governing data privacy, network security, consumer protection and location provisioning for emergency response and public safety.

As MNOs seek to take commercial advantage of higher speeds and lower latencies available with the next generation communication technologies and move forward with the migration from 4G to 5G, they are also faced with the potential for more stringent regulations, particularly around location.

Indeed, an EU regulatory consultation is currently underway that is scheduled to be finished at the end of this calendar year. It will define the accuracies that will be required for mobile emergency calls going forward, helping improve first responders’ ability to locate and save emergency callers. The accuracy, speeds, and reliability required are likely to be much higher than the current regulatory requirements, due in large part to the much higher capabilities available and promised by 5G.

Regulatory benefits are not a burden
Rather than view these requirements as a burden, or a barrier to innovation and time to market, MNOs should see this as an opportunity to cement their position as a trusted communications data supplier.

5G offers significant opportunities and promise for location. Historically, with 4G, MNOs have used cell-based location coupled with Wi-Fi and beacons. With 5G and the upcoming 3GPP Releases, location will be much more precise, and a lot faster, than with 4G and previous generations.

3GPP Release 16, available now, can deliver up to 50 metre accuracy with 30 second latency. Release 17 takes that a step further at 20 centimetre accuracy and 100 millisecond latency, and Release 18, being drafted right now, allows for an incredible one centimetre accuracy at 10 milliseconds.

Furthermore, 5G antennas are able to take advantage of beamforming to deliver location information on the z-axis. Vertical location intelligence will deliver massive benefits in terms of public safety, particularly in urban environments.

While the accuracy potential of Releases 17 and 18 may ultimately not be mandated for public safety, investment by MNOs in these capabilities will deliver first mover advantage for commercial use cases and ensure preparedness for any public safety regulatory changes.

Compliance can provide an opportunity for operators to differentiate themselves from competitors by building trust with customers and demonstrating a commitment to ethical business practices.

Moving up the value chain
Moreover, compliance can open up new business opportunities for operators by enabling them to offer value-added services that align with regulatory requirements. Location really is an untapped resource for MNOs.

5G offers the potential to move up the value chain. Rather than allowing OTT vendors to ride on the back of available connectivity or even utilise an E-SIM, which would disintermediate the network’s further, they can harness their own network intelligence. By providing secure, location-based open APIs that enable enterprise related services in terms of IoT, telematics or logistics, MNOs can gain competitive advantage.

MNOs could create dedicated, secure and compliant network slices with separate core elements for a car manufacturer, logistics company, public transportation organisation, city, or any other organisation that could potentially benefit from ultra precise location. Services like this already exist, albeit on a limited basis. In the UK, a large national carrier provides real time data to Transport for London that enables it to know the location of its buses across the capital and can accurately forecast the time of arrival at each stop via dozens of mobile apps and live digital arrivals boards at bus stops.

5G networks will be able to provide far greater granularity than 4G technology, and that data is better anonymised than the data handset vendors are selling today. By investing in 5G location, MNOs have the ability to become the trusted provider of consumer data, offering fully anonymised information to third parties and adhering to GDPR and other privacy regulations.

This contrasts with the OTT vendors who offer no such guarantees and openly profit from personal data being resold. The growing dissatisfaction amongst digital users with how their data is being harvested and profited from is creating a window of opportunity for MNOs to be the consumer champion and enable third party services safely. 

The benefits of compliance extend beyond the ability to offer value-added services, however. Compliance can also help operators to reduce operational risk and improve overall business efficiency. By implementing robust compliance processes and procedures, operators can minimise the likelihood of costly data breaches or other compliance violations, which can have a significant impact on their reputation and bottom line.

In addition, compliance helps MNOs streamline their operations and reduce costs by eliminating redundant or inefficient processes. By implementing a compliance-driven approach to business operations, operators can create a culture of continuous improvement and drive innovation across their organisation.

Ultimately, by adhering to regulatory compliance there can be a commercial advantage for MNOs that prioritise it as a core business strategy. By embracing compliance and aligning their business practices with regulatory requirements, operators can differentiate themselves from competitors, open up new business opportunities, and improve overall business efficiency.

Future ready solution
LocationWise, from SS8, is an enhanced location solution, based on the standardised GMLC (Gateway Mobile Location Centre) network element, that enables MNOs to maximise previous investment in 4G, 3G, and 2G networks. It also adds the 5G LMF location element, allowing MNOs to roll out 5G services while remaining compliant with 5G accuracy requirements for emergency caller location. LocationWise ensures regulatory compliance across all network generations, for the safety and security of its customers.

The solution is cloud-ready and can be deployed in a virtualised environment, resulting in faster implementation times, increased scalability, and improved availability. It also supports all relevant network generations and incorporates 3GPP-compliant functionality, providing sub-cell accuracy. To further enhance the accuracy of location tracking, LocationWise can leverage device-based location information and A-GPS/A-GNSS satellite data. It also includes SS8’s patented Accuracy+ machine learning technology to provide the highest level of precision.