PARTNER CONTENT: As well put by GSMA during MWC 2022, continued 5G momentum has been largely confirmed: 200 mobile operators in 78 markets have launched 5G commercially already by the end of 2021 with more than 700 million 5G connected users.

More encouragingly, leading 5G operators have achieved considerable 5G adoption, even >30% in countries such as China and South Korea. It has undoubtedly helped operators in financial gains and bottom lines: as a matter of fact, leading 5G carriers have found strong mobile service revenue growth in 2021.

At MWC22 Barcelona, Huawei hosted 5G summit and invited mobile operators and vertical industry representatives from diverse geographical regions to speak about their hands-on experience on addressing ToC (Consumer), ToH (Home) and ToB (Industry) segments.

For 5G ToC consumer segment, two waves of monetization can be expected:

  • First wave: by marketing better experience of current applications and services. Carriers commonly charge a 10-20% for 5G premium for a much more general data package, e.g., with twice as much data. It proves to be a win-win for both consumers and carriers: consumers get a lower cost per GB while carriers keep the high-end customers and manages to improve ARPU. Therefore we are witnessing the natural growth of DOU thanks to higher speed with 5G and better user experience for apps people use at daily basis. A typical 4G DOU at ~10GB and 5G DOU at ~30GB give the first opportunity to monetize 5G. The underlying principle lies in the fact that larger bandwidth (often 100MHz for 5G NR) and higher spectrum efficient improves 5G network capacity by 10 times or even higher. Moreover, the usage based offering can further evolve to speed-tiers ones, as already practiced in certain markets like Finland.
  • Second wave: 5G apps and services, such as XR and cloud gaming, are gaining maturity and trends. Showcased in recently-closed Winter Olympics games in Beijing and proven by resounding success of China Mobile’s Migu app, 5G apps expect to play more and more central role, not only in terms of spent time and data usage, but also in supporting ARPU incremental.

It is thus of key milestone for the carriers to cross the chasm of 20% in 5G adoption, both in 5G user penetration and 5G traffic ratio:

  • 5G user penetration relates to migrating 4G users to 5G, usually coming with more data or higher speed, often with 5G services or other benefits. In exchange for higher ARPU and higher mobile service revenue.
  • 5G traffic ratio by having migrated 5G users consuming data traffic on lower-cost/bit 5G network, instead of 4G network. It, more importantly, signifies the shift of network investment from 4G to 5G.

Besides, 5G FWA which serves as replacement for copper or complement for fiber, proves to be a quick win opportunity for 5G operators. In certain developing markets with absence of strong fiber infrastructure, 5G FWA can be even positioned as fiber-like future-proof alternative for home broadband. In total, 81 carriers worldwide have launched 5G FWA offering and are serving more than 3 million 5G FWA users already. Higher speed, stronger QoS and manageable WiFi make possible a very strong home broadband offering of Premium 5G home.

Zain in KSA has shown to the world how they have been listening to what Saudi consumers truly need at home and carefully calibrated the home broadband offering with 5G, with higher internet speed, home Wifi and Entertainment offerings. The outcome has been very upbeat, 5G FWA users for Zain KSA has been multiplied by 12 times in 2 years since 2019, with 5G FWA ARPU improved 30% compared to 4G FWA. It leads to overall revenue YoY growth of a very healthy 1.3% and the fact 5G traffic ratio reached 38% already, in 21Q4.

Alan loh, Innovation & Solutions Executive General Manager of ZAIN KSA summarizes the secrets behind their success: “What Zain believes and stays true is bring our values to continue innovating services that provide the best customer experience with INSPIRED leaders, INSPIRED Zainers and INSPIRED partners”.

Great strides have been made in 5G private line and private network for industries. 5G private line, the low hanging fruit for 5G ToB segment, has gained traction and been launched by 30+ operators with 60K+ lease lines already. Through differentiated experience assurance solution (e.g. slicing), 5G private line can provide up to 100 Mbit/s SLA and is well positioned to meet more than 80% enterprise requirements, bringing 10X increase of ARPU in the process. It is fully ready to deploy in at least 12 select scenarios including RV (Recreational Vehicle) camping sites, mobile ATM, dedicated access for SME, 5G gas station, etc.

Compared to previous generation technologies, 5G can provide higher uplink throughput, lower latency and more reliability, making 5G private network uniquely well positioned for fulfilling core requirements of vertical industries. For example, in mining sector, remote operating of excavators improves significantly working conditions and worker safety, but mandates high reliability (99.99%), low latency (E2E < 50ms) and high uplink (50Mbps), well beyond the capabilities of other technologies such as WiFi or LTE.

In terms of progress, Chinese carriers are estimated to have signed 3,000+ 5G private network contracts in year 2021 and start aiming extensive deployment in several select industries such as mining, port and steel. Li Huidi, EVP of China Mobile, commits to continue working with industry partners to build a 5G-based new information service system and promote the development of 5G new technologies.

Keys to such success lie in a strong glocal ecosystem and partnership beyond carrier and vendors. East-West Gate, a multi-modal railway terminal in Hungary, will become operational in the coming weeks and provide max capacity of 1 million TEU (Twenty-Foot Equivalent unit) per year. High capacity and efficiency result from 5G + MEC based full-remote control of all cranes and real-time 3D visualization of customers and containers.

Siriraj 5G hospital in Thailand strives to provide 5G-enabled mobile and quality telemedicine anytime anywhere. It addresses major challenges in Thailand, such as unevenly distributed medical resources, doctors in short supply, high-mortality first-aid, via highly digitalized operations such as 5G ambulance and remote consultation. Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, M.D., Dean of Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital is fully confident: “Our success signifies as a model of 5G Smart Hospital for upgrading Thailand’s public health industry in the future.”

Almost 3 years into the first 5G commercial launch, 5G has been a proven driver for operator’s growth, as resonated by Mallik Rao, CTIO of Telefónica Deutschland, “5G leading network provides new opportunities for consumers and businesses. Telefónica Germany foresees continued growth momentum into FY22, after 2nd year of strong delivery well on track.

Barry Hou, President of 5G MSSD at Huawei Technologies, concludes on 5G values in multiple fronts (For more, click here), “5G essentially brings triple-wins for consumers, operators and societies: lower cost-per-GB and better experience for consumers, ARPU increase and revenue growth for operators, digital economy and industry transformation for societies. To achieve such 5G success, we look forward to continuous close collaboration with all stakeholders and partners!