By Yael Ilan, COO, FTS
August 9, 2019
The latest generation of cellular mobile communications, 5G, has many advantages: it saves energy and costs, offers high data rates, ultralow latency, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity, for example to run the Internet of Things. For communication service providers (CSPs), this brings many new revenue opportunities – as long as they have the right 5G billing solution.
Not only does 5G, short for fifth generation cellular network technology, offer more in terms of bandwidth and capacity, it also introduces ‘network slicing’. This means CSPs will be able to deliver multiple network occurrences over one shared infrastructure, allowing them to offer custom slices to different groups of users or devices, depending on their needs. A provider might propose one slice for one industry, with specific needs, at specific times. This has advantages for users, who will be able to benefit from slices that are optimized for their specific type of traffic, which leads to better performance. For example, email traffic might be routed through a slower slice, while 4K video up- and downloads may pass through faster slices.
Slicing allows providers to offer a product that is tailored to the needs of different user groups. Providers will be able to base lots of different services and applications on as many different slices. However, they need to make sure they are able to monetize these services. CSPs will need a certain groundwork – and the earlier they start laying this foundation, the better. Because 5G deployment might still be in its early stages – not many consumer grade devices are able to use it yet – but in the next few years, the pace is expected to speed up significantly. In a very short time, providers have to not only roll out infrastructure, but also create and deliver new services.
This also entails considering the new roles they want to play. Providing connectivity only will no longer be enough: 5G will connect a lot of new Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the IoT value chain has a lot of players. Next to their traditional role as communications service provider connecting end devices, there are also providers of IoT services, application providers, device providers, solution providers, third party partners, platform enablers and resellers. CSPs will be able to fulfill many of these roles, as long as they build better monetization capabilities and efficiencies. Only then will they be able to gain value from things other than connectivity.
In order to do that, CSPs need a flexible billing platform. One that allows them to offer flexible service plans, based on transaction frequency, devices, time of day, location, applications, or data usage. Customers should enjoy real-time, personalized services based on these parameters. The solution has to provide options for revenue management, smart revenue sharing and partner management capabilities, without a limit to the number of organizations or the interconnection agreements and settlements involved. This way, providers will be able to add business sense to 5G and the many opportunities it brings.