Carriers can move the needle by preparing business for 5G today
There has never been a better time than now for cellular network operators to accelerate their investments in 5G go-to-market activities. It’s time to go faster and shift gears. Why? Because businesses are ready for it.
In July, Australian-based Telstra unveiled the world’s first enterprise-grade 5G service for business as part of their Enterprise Wireless offering — but when will others follow suit? While most operators recognize that businesses will benefit from 5G more than consumers, many continue to focus on consumer use cases such as enabling people to download movies in seconds instead of minutes. However, the operators who embrace a B2B-focused 5G strategy will gain early advantages in the fast-growing and lucrative 5G market: less competition, higher revenue, greater participation in over-the-top services, higher revenue per user (ARPU), and lower subsidies and churn.
Key drivers for rolling out a 5G practice
While carriers stand to gain the early advantages of embracing a 5G for business strategy, key business drivers can help further motivate adoption. No one knows more about what it takes to bring 5G for business to market—and why it matters now more than ever—than Pascal Budd, head of mobility at Telstra. He shared some specific bits of wisdom, detailing the most enticing benefits of his company’s industry-first foray into this next generation of cellular performance.
Improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) — An NPS measures customer loyalty and often provides a strong indication of if they will do business with you—and, importantly, recommend your business to someone else. “We put the customer at the center of everything we do,” says Budd who stresses the importance of their NPS to the business. “We always see fantastic results in the wireless domain, but occasionally we receive feedback around delays for terrestrial install. For us, enterprise wireless really resolves that with Day-1 connectivity.”
Disrupt or be disrupted — Being a “disruptor” in technology takes many forms. But you don’t have to invent novel technology to disrupt. Simply being the first, or even early is a means of disruption and almost always gives you a competitive advantage. “In the MPLS and IoT connectivity market, there’s a real need to disrupt, self-disrupt, or be disrupted,” Budd explains. “So, this is an opportunity for us to really change the game and bring new technology to our customers.” At the end of the day, wireless is going to disrupt wired services.
Prepare for what’s next — Future-proofing your business is critical and doing so could mean the difference between being on the cutting-edge, versus on the chopping block. “So, with the advancement of 5G — and we’re using a Sub-6 network at the moment — this puts us in a great position for things like network slicing and edge compute, which we know are on the horizon,” says Budd.
Monetize 5G investment — “Obviously we’re a business, and we really need to monetize our investment in 5G,” explains Budd. Just one of their solutions alone – Enterprise Wireless – gives them three use cases: Day-1 connectivity, hybrid networking, and failover. “So, in one solution you get three use cases with 5G.”
Become a trusted advisor
With CIOs now moving past COVID-19 and restarting their plans around future architectures, 5G once again is grabbing the limelight — especially given the heightened awareness of wireless benefits during the pandemic.
In the past few years, Cradlepoint has conducted more than a hundred 5G CIO workshops alongside our partners, explaining the impacts and opportunities of 5G. Surprisingly, most of these engagements have resulted in near-term business and discovery of new use cases.
In an emerging market like this one, there are prime opportunities for operators to be trusted advisors to business customers, not simply suppliers of smartphones. The time is now.
Help companies prepare for 5G now
While 5G wireless edge solutions are beginning to come to market, many enterprise organizations are amid refreshing their wide-area networks (WANs) and need to prepare for a 5G future in the process. Network operators can guide them in a direction that aligns with their WAN strategy and the operator’s current and planned 5G offerings.
Sell 4G and gigabit-class LTE solutions — Organizations can deploy a 5G-ready Wireless WAN solution with LTE Advanced or LTE Advanced Pro — knowing they can seamlessly glide from 4G to 5G without losing their investment or changing management systems. Experience from deploying 4G solutions will instill the experience necessary to pursue 5G solutions with confidence.
Sell 5G-optimized infrastructure — Businesses and agencies that are considering wireless require solutions that will support the unique performance aspects of 5G. For example, 5G will require routers with greater-than-gigabit interfaces, generous processing power to support security at speed, and 5G-specific management features.
Operators can uniquely help enterprise organizations develop a Wireless WAN strategy that takes advantage of advanced LTE and 5G spectrum — and ensure investments are preserved as they move sites and endpoints between them. It’s how businesses can ensure investment protection while taking advantage of 5G when and where they need it most.
Establish 5G for fixed wireless
The first phase of 5G for business capabilities is squarely in the fixed-wireless access (FWA) market, with multiple use cases.
Primary wireless — In many locations, using wireless as a primary link makes sense. With organizations expanding, shrinking, dividing, and moving more than ever, only wireless can provide the flexibility needed to accommodate business agility.
Some of these businesses have many locations and need the management simplicity of one nationwide wireless provider instead of lots of regionally-based wired ISPs. Others have locations where wired broadband isn’t available or doesn’t provide sufficient reliability. Often wireless is the answer. Even if a site is not served by mid- or high-band 5G services, LTE Advanced, Advanced Pro, or low-band 5G can more than meet the need. For some, a single fast wireless pipe is less complex and less costly than deployed multiple wired access links and SD-WAN.
Bandwidth augmentation — For organizations considering SD-WAN, Wireless WAN provides the key benefit of additional bandwidth. A cellular link can steer peak traffic or be assigned to a specific traffic type, thus offloading the primary links. More importantly, 5G can provide greater parity between the speed of primary wired and backup wireless connections, making traffic shifts between them imperceivable.
Also, using wireless in supplemental fashion enables a built-in diverse pathway to direct traffic in the event of a potentially costly wired network outage.
Failover — 5G opens new opportunities to serve large sites with cellular connectivity. Instead of only failing over selective and critical traffic, all traffic can failover without interruption. An organization such as a large financial institution undoubtedly depends on an ultra-fast primary wired WAN link, and thus needs faster failover, too. 5G can deliver.
Expedite the evolution of data plans
When we talk to organizations about Wireless WAN and the role of 5G, one of the first questions we receive is, “How predictable is wireless billing?” Although organizations are concerned about the overall cost of broadband, they are more concerned about predictability. In other words, businesses may be willing to pay the same or more for wireless broadband, but they are not willing to pay for surprises.
There are two important billing considerations for wireless broadband for business. First, business traffic can easily be controlled and shaped through policy, bandwidth management, and QoS to make billing more predictable.
Second, network operators have begun shifting their data plans toward more of a fixed-rate model — even for 4G offerings. The operators that continue this evolution swiftly and implement a fully predictable billing model will have an early advantage in the 5G FWA market.
It’s not just consumers who are ready for 5G. Businesses are clamoring for it, are ready for it, and need to begin it planning for it sooner rather than later. They need network operators to go full throttle toward the wireless technology they’ve been hearing about for so long.
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