Operators today provide connectivity to millions of people who are embracing a more digital lifestyle. They are also facilitating this shift for enterprises as they undergo digital transformation. To make their 5G investments profitable, CSPs need a monetization strategy that takes a multipronged approach. In addition to direct monetization, they must include partnerships, digital ecosystems, as well as unique and innovative business models. 5G monetization demands that communications service providers (CSPs) reshape and evolve their revenue management systems to ensure they can support complex B2B, B2C, and B2B2X services. So, what are the key enablers for this change?
5G use cases ready to be monetized
5G means CSPs will be able to offer a host of new services that require advanced monetization platforms, new business models, and new ways of thinking from traditional voice and data subscriptions. These include services enabled by 5G capabilities such as:
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): enables CSPs to handle ever-increasing data rates, user density, and traffic capacity.
- Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC): enables the IoT ecosystem, where a large number of devices are connected to the network with varying policies.
- Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC): caters to latency demands, especially for mission-critical and safety-critical applications.
- Network Slicing: enables operators to use shared physical infrastructure to create multiple autonomous networks, each one catering to different QoS requirements for bandwidth, storage, processing power, and more.
The key enablers for 5G monetization
To cater to the needs of their individual and enterprise customers, and to capitalize on the possibilities of 5G, CSPs need to focus on these four key enablers:
Platform-based business model
As the 5G ecosystem expands the services and applications that can be consumed through the network, CSPs need to evolve their business models to serve as platforms that connect consumers with producers. A platform-based business model enables operators to build a wide range of industry-specific business models based on consumption (APIs, insights, and so on), use of shared infrastructure, customer journeys, and more. Operators can also set up digital ecosystems using the platform business model. These ecosystems or digital marketplaces connect businesses with consumers.
5G operators can leverage their existing infrastructure to forge diverse partnerships and offer a platform to producers, manufacturers, retailers of products and services. Network slicing enables CSPs to support and monetize these services. These partnerships can span across industry verticals such as connected cars, smart cities, industrial IoT, and more.
CSPs today are associated with multiple diverse service chains and can leverage their customer data and analytics to create highly profitable platforms that are mutually beneficial for customers and the providers of the service. They can be used to introduce more advanced offerings. For instance, Telefónica UK provides an insurance offering called O2 Drive, leveraging customer data insights to create contextual offers at better rates. The app uses GPS tracking to monitor customer journeys, giving each customer a score to tell them how safely they drive and providing tips to improve.
Robust partnership ecosystem
One of 5G’s core transformative abilities is in enabling service providers to forge diverse partnerships, thus enabling B2B2X ecosystems. 5G and IoT open business opportunities at multiple levels, with business models such as shared infrastructure, revenue-sharing, connecting multiple devices on a single network, and more. Operators can monetize partnerships based on SLAs and QoS, volumes, product/service type, inventories, infrastructure use, API and service consumption, and so on. Partners can, in turn, implement subscription- and transaction-based models, charging consumers based on their usage in terms of time, volume, output, and more.
CSPs can facilitate and monetize diverse and advanced telco as well as non-telco applications, building a partner ecosystem that spans across industries. Use cases such as road safety with self-driving vehicles and smart traffic management hold immense ROI potential. Logistics companies can be provided platforms to maximize business efficiency through real-time fleet tracking, route and fuel optimization, and more. Smart grids and utility providers can use data from IoT and connected devices to manage distribution. Healthcare professionals can benefit from platforms that enable telemedicine and remote surgeries. Agriculture can employ connected devices such as drones, sensors, and cameras to monitor soil and crop quality. Manufacturing units and factories can connect all devices on the floor from larger machines right down to a screwdriver to optimize efficiency. For retail applications, operators can help enable smart home portals and apps, digital ecosystem platforms, and much more.
Customer experience (CX) is a major driver for success today, compelling operators to shift their focus to customer service and service monetization in all aspects of their business, from designing products to the partnerships they build.
Ensuring good CX includes innovative business offerings, digitized experience, high network performance, service availability, and reliability. It also means billing, charging, settlement, customer support processes need to be CX-driven. Operators must look at automating CX by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in their back-office processes such as order management as well as by implementing chatbots and automation in their payment and self-care apps.
So, how do operators monetize CX? A major part of it is ensuring simple and easy-to-implement pricing structures. Offering asset-light business models is especially beneficial to enterprises, where CSPs can provide the underlying IT and charging infrastructure to businesses, granting them full control of the services they offer to their consumers without having to invest in their own infrastructure.
Monetization models can be based on a host of different parameters depending on the applications, such as UE/MAC address for IoT and I-IoT applications, infrastructure use, inventories, geographical locations, time of day, demand, and more.
SBA core driven networks
SBA architecture with 5G core and cloud infrastructure are key enablers to the network, helping launch advanced services like URLLC, network slicing, and more. Network slicing is set to revolutionize how networks are used and monetized. And while sharing network resources means more efficient use of the infrastructure, it demands advanced charging systems to cater to the diverse use cases it supports. One slice may demand low-latency QoS, while another demands ultrafast speed, and a third demands high bandwidth. Monetizing these network slices demands dynamic near-real-time charging and policy control.
In addition to QoS, 5G monetization platforms enable charging for network use, based on the number of connections, data frequency, real-time versus non-real-time operations, location precision, and more.
Solutions that maximize 5G monetization capabilities
In consumer as well as enterprise applications, 5G supports endless possibilities of business models and charging use cases. They will be required to support online as well as offline charging, scaling to handle the demands of IoT billing so they can charge small amounts at a massive scale. They will also need to support a range of revenue-sharing arrangements with n-level hierarchies. CSPs will need to ensure they are constantly innovating to support charging with evolving services like on-demand network slices.
As CSPs make the transition to 5G, successful monetization relies largely on the flexibility of an operator’s billing, charging, and policy infrastructure systems to support multiple pricing models. They also need to implement a next-gen partner management solution to handle diverse partnerships. Implementing a future-proof digital BSS/OSS infrastructure helps begin their journey of digital transformation, enabling them to get the most out of their 5G monetization infrastructure.
Vice President, Product Management
A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.