5G has arrived, but at a great cost. According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 5G will reach three billion connections by 2023 and telcos will have spent nearly $1 trillion building their networks.
The key theme for MWC 2023 is "Velocity: Unleashing tomorrow's technology", to harness 5G for innovative services to transform industry and enterprises, and the way we communicate, work, and play. This is also known as "Monetising 5G".
Unlike previous mobile upgrades, telcos are focusing on enterprise to monetise 5G, with its cloud native core coupled with massive improvements in bandwidth and latency enabling transformational new services.
To capture enterprise 5G opportunities, telcos are evolving from providing a "dumb pipe" to an "ecosystem builder", bringing together technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, edge computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and "an explosion of applications".
Private 5G market opportunity is nascent with enterprises starting out on their 5G private network journey with experiments to digitalise their business from managing industrial IoTs, asset tracking, safety monitoring, telehealth, and real-time augmented reality (AR), etc.
The market is also getting increasingly crowded with telcos, cloud hyperscalers and network equipment vendors all looking to deliver private 5G network services or equipment. Telcos and hyperscalers are seeing private 5G as a natural extension of their networks or clouds, while network equipment vendors are offering independent standalone private 5G solutions. Multiple announcements on private 5G partnerships across the spectrum were made at MWC23, notably "Integrated Private Wireless on AWS", partnerships between Microsoft and Deutsche Telecom, Google and AT&T, and Cisco and Intel.
Small cell is foundational to Private Enterprise 5G, providing localised dense capacity where macro network alone cannot provide. In the small cell front, specialists like Picocom and EdgeQ are innovating along with network equipment manufacturers like Qualcomm, incorporating AI and Open RAN in their designs. Our portfolio company, EdgeQ, won "Best Digital Tech Breakthrough for Companies with Under $10 Million Annual Global Revenue" and the highly coveted "CTO Choice Award for Outstanding Mobile Technology".
Implications for ST Engineering
Each vertical and enterprise will have their own unique use case and network requirement. Beyond connectivity, enterprises will also need sensors, applications and security, and a Systems Integrator partner like us to design, integrate and support their personalised network. To compete effectively, we will need to supplement our strength in digital solutions, security, and system integration with an ecosystem of third-party applications, IoT and networking vendors.