QUALCOMM SNAPDRAGON TECH SUMMIT 2019, HAWAII: US operator executives, in a series of interviews, outlined how network slicing could be used to generate new revenue in a 5G world, as the industry continues to struggle with the business case for investing in next generation technology.

Network slicing is a key 5G feature on the horizon as operators move to standalone configurations, and will enable them to allocate network capabilities in unique combinations. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile US are all pushing toward standalone deployments in 2020.

Nicola Palmer, Verizon’s chief product development officer, told Mobile World Live (MWL) the operator could in theory offer a set of guaranteed bandwidth and latency capabilities for gamers and charge for that slice. She cited similar examples for business and IoT use cases, noting slices could be offered “for a time,” be it an hour, a day or constantly.

Sprint VP of product engineering Ryan Sullivan agreed such a scheme represents an opportunity to generate revenue from areas of the network where there is excess capacity, and tipped the industrial, healthcare and transportation segments as prime targets for such an offer.

Kevin Petersen, SVP of AT&T Mobility, noted a key element to success will be raising awareness among businesses and consumers about the capabilities offered by 5G and specific network slices.

All three said it’s too early to tell how slices might be priced.

But implementation of network slicing also comes with costs, a point T-Mobile SVP of radio network engineering and development Mark McDiarmid was quick to make: “People will talk about these things but they don’t actually [talk] about the cost of slicing and the complexity and the architectures that have to be put into place to make any of this happen”.

Qualcomm paid for travel to this conference. This article reflects honest reporting on the event.