When it comes to our wireless communication capabilities, one of the biggest buzzwords these days is “5G.” When we struggle to get signal in a parking garage, we wish for 5G; when a video takes a second to buffer, we wish for 5G. But it’s about more than just speed. 

According to Deloitte, “Fifth-generation technology may be the first to realistically challenge fixed-line networks for even some of the most data-intensive applications. It represents something new.”

So 5G has promised to transform not only the way we communicate but the way communications service providers (CSPs) operate, upending their business models, their services and more. But how, exactly?

There’s a lot of talk out there about the capabilities of 5G, and, as one Slate reporter points out, much of it is hype. But the reality is that the shift from 4G to 5G is going to be bigger than any previous advancement in mobile connectivity. We won’t know its full effects until the network is up and running and in use, but there are a couple of things we can bet on, and CSPs that want to stay on the cutting edge are already planning ahead.

Enhanced Connectivity — in Every Part of Our Lives

The enhanced connectivity — faster speeds, fewer dead zones — of 5G will enable faster video streaming, sure, but it promises to do so much more. 5G promises to connect all of our IoT devices, from our phones to our smart thermostats to healthcare equipment and even autonomous vehicles.

According to a 5G primer from ZDNet, this ultimate connectivity is the key goal of a 5G rollout:

The most important promise made by the proprietors of 5G wireless technology is this: Once all of 5G's components are fully deployed and operational, you will not need any kind of wire or cable to deliver communications or even entertainment service to your mobile device, to any of your fixed devices (HDTV, security system, smart appliances), or to your automobile. If everything works, 5G would be the optimum solution to the classic "last mile" problem: Delivering complete digital connectivity from the tip of the carrier network to the customer, without drilling another hole through the wall.

5G will encourage and enable customers to have more devices that relate to one another in more complicated ways. By removing latencies and enhancing connectivity, ZDNet says, 5G wireless may even have the potential to make traditional telecom companies competitive with top cloud providers (Amazon, Google, etc.) by bringing processing power much closer to customers.

New Business Models for Carriers

Every industry stands to benefit from the transformative power of 5G, but CSPs have their work cut out for them to make it happen. To stay ahead of the game and fulfill these lofty promises, telecom providers will need to overhaul their network designs. Deloitte explains that the core network powering 5G will need to be powerful enough — in terms of infrastructure, frequency, coverage and security — to manage this exponentially growing number of connections, not to mention the expectations that come with them.

And it’s not only the infrastructure that will need to evolve, but also the way these providers interact with customers. We’re already seeing growing numbers of customers using OTT messengers (such as What’s App and other Internet-based services) rather than carrier-provided SMS, and that trend is expected to continue as users take advantage of the new Internet-based applications, activities and processes empowered by the 5G network rather than by any particular service from their providers.

So, as 5G continues to shift the focus from carrier-provided services to OTT services and device connectivity, customers will be less concerned with which carrier is powering a device than they are with what that device can do. Already, more customers are buying devices than service plans, and most leading carriers are generating higher revenues from equipment than from services, according to telecomlead.

So as 5G comes to life, traditional carriers — and internet service providers, too — will need to evolve their services if they want to maintain their market shares. Along with continued equipment investment, Deloitte recommends carriers focus on other ways to enhance connectivity, such as managing customers’ devices and the relationships between them:

Right now, for lack of better options, customers generally end up managing it all themselves, but as discussed, at some point the complexity becomes overwhelming in terms of time, resources, and knowledge/desire to do so. Going forward, then, service providers may want to play the role of managing the environment of multiple, disparate connected devices.

5G is coming, and while we may not be able to chart its exact course, we know it will continue to be a dramatic disruptor in the communications industry. As CSPs adjust their offerings to better leverage this revolutionary new tech, Gotransverse is here to help navigate uncharted waters by creating agile, scalable pricing and billing models to keep our clients’ businesses ahead of the curve.