By James Kirby, CSG SVP & head of EMEA Business
We have officially entered the age of 5G, and 176 operators in 72 countries have already launched at least one 3GPP-compliant 5G service. With constant deployments and developing new use cases, 5G is no longer a far-off, future game-changing technology but one gaining momentum across the globe.
5G’s lightning-fast speed and low latency is currently transforming a wide range of industries, including communications, healthcare, and manufacturing. Companies that planned well ahead of the initial launch of 5G are doing far better than those that were ill-prepared. For this reason, it’s important to keep an awoken eye on the future—specifically, what comes next and after 5G.
5G Advanced—The Next Step
5.5G is the natural progression of the 5G network and slowly but surely paves the way for 6G. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an organization that develops standards and communications protocols, refers to this development as 5G Advanced. The launch of 5G Advanced is scheduled for initial approvals by the end of this year.
Six key elements make up 5G Advanced:
- Network designs featuring edge and cloud computing
- New radio designs that support technologies, including full-duplex communications
- Resilient technologies that block hacks and other threats
- Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technologies
- Coordinated spectrum sharing techniques
- Services that merge the physical and the digital worlds
5G Advanced offers several important improvements over 5G. This next iteration includes a sharper focus on edge and cloud computing, driven by use cases like autonomous cars where near real-time speeds are critical. Additionally, 5G Advanced will feature higher uplink and download speeds, while being better at supporting billions of wireless devices, unleashing the full potential of IoT.
At this juncture, 5G Advanced centres around improvements that will benefit businesses. With better radio frequency utilisation, 5G Advanced’s high-speed bandwidth to more wireless endpoints will enable faster upload speeds with an increased visual resolution, such as machine-generated video for medical, security transportation, and other applications.
Improved upload speeds, coupled with better latency, will facilitate a better and more personalised service experience while accommodating crucial requirements in mission-critical use cases such as autonomous cars and remote surgery.
The continuous enhancements of 5G networks will require communication service providers (CSPs) to transform their business models. The main goal of acquiring, monetising, and retaining customers will stay the same. However, how they innovate, compete, and provide seamless experiences across network business and consumer use cases will change. 5G Advanced offers a new set of opportunities for CSPs.
6G—The Next Frontier
The next generation of connectivity is very much still in the planning stages. However, its potential includes some awe-inspiring developments. Some of the areas currently being researched include massive, multi-input and multi-output in higher radio frequencies like 100 GHz. 6G might also support sub-millisecond response times, which would be revolutionary.
While we will likely see some deployments of 5G Advanced in the next year, 6G will likely not become a reality until 2023. As the network continues to improve, more potential use cases will arise, providing CSPs with new and profitable opportunities.
Navigating the Landscape
CSG is helping operators around the world think bigger, invent new revenue models, minimise go-to-market costs and maximise profits as they launch new services driven by the demand for 5G bandwidth and service quality. In doing so, we help them build dynamic ecosystems that capitalise on the exponential growth of marketplace solutions in industries such as healthcare, fintech and gaming.
With a future-focused mindset, we are preparing for the future while delivering in the present, where 5G revenues are evolving within remote surgery, industrial tracking and logistics, autonomous transportation, gaming, and financial markets because of the ultra-low latency benefits. We believe that planning for 5G Advanced and 6G today will pay major dividends down the road.