5G Monetization | 5G Magazine Feb 2023 Edition

In order to maximize revenue and add more value, operators must expand their connectivity offerings beyond speed and customer experience; they need to expand their footprint into edge cloud platforms and AI-based solution stacks. Doing this will help them secure a larger share of the potential profits.

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The Private Network Revolution

Fifth-generation (5G) mobile networking promises to revolutionize the telecommunications market. 5G was developed to enable multi-Gbps transmission speeds with ultra-low latency and greater reliability, enabling extended wireless data access.

Thanks to 5G, new machine-to-machine communications, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), are easier to deploy. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can now deliver a more immersive experience over wireless links. Mission-critical business communications can take advantage of the higher data speeds and reliability of 5G networking.

With 5G, communication service providers (CSPs) can now offer edge-aware enterprise data services. They can work with developers, hardware vendors, edge computing services, and third parties to create new offerings built around 5G speed and versatility. For example, CSPs can take advantage of 5G slicing and multi-access edge computing (MEC) to guarantee service levels and enable new wireless offerings.

The challenge is monetization. Traditionally, CSPs have based fees on basic attributes like bandwidth consumption, typically measured in minutes or bytes used. With 5G, CSPs and their partners can now build more nuanced pricing around perceived value, opening up virtually unlimited pricing options. For example, using edge computing to move data processing workloads closer to where it is needed will dramatically improve customer experience. Similarly, being able to adjust 5G resources to guarantee service levels enables more sophisticated tiered pricing options.

Rethinking The Marketplace Model

The digital marketplace model certainly isn’t new. B2C marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify have been thriving for years. For suppliers, the marketplace model offers many advantages, including extended market reach with no marketing costs, the ability to compete with larger vendors, and simplified ordering and fulfillment. Customers like marketplaces because it provides a single location for comparison shopping and offers transparency about availability and price.

Seeing the success of the consumer marketplace model, B2B marketplaces are looking for the same advantages. One recent example is the Bay Supply marketplace for industrial fasteners. Bay Supply has been reselling bolts, rivets, threaded inserts, and fastener tools for decades. With the launch of its online marketplace, they now offer a vertical niche mart where manufacturers can sell directly to customers. Customers get the added benefit of comparison shopping without having to visit dozens of manufacturers’ websites. They also can manage RFPs and orders from one location.

Using the marketplace model to sell 5G services is something new. The same basic principles apply; 5G network providers are reselling services through local carriers and CSPs, and the marketplace provides a single location where customers can compare offerings. 5G providers are able to reach a broader market, and they have the means to develop new revenue and service models.

Monetizing The 5G Marketplace

A marketplace model allows CSPs to capitalize on the additional capabilities of 5G in different ways. Network slicing, for example, enables service tiers based on performance or speed tiering. According to McKinsey, 74% of customers are positive or neutral about tiered mobile data services. The same article notes that Elisa, the Finnish telco, reports that customer satisfaction is 50% higher for those with plans enabling 300 Mbps or higher. McKinsey estimates that 5G can increase ARPU (average revenue per user) by 3% to 6%. CSPs no longer have to offer one-size-fits-all plans. You may also see “slice-as-a-service” emerge, giving users the required bandwidth and service quality on demand.

Now consider what 5G can do for telecommunications service offerings. In addition to business-class services, customers could buy bandwidth on demand through flexible services that enable “impulse” purchases. For example, users can increase their mobile pipeline to access streaming content or download multimedia—no more paying for slow airport Wi-Fi services to download a movie before your flight. McKinsey estimates that consumers would use 5G boosters at $1.00 per boost seven times per month. Real-time tracking and AI-powered forecasting enable dynamic 5G pricing so CSPs can offer service discounts during low-load periods.

CSP partners could use the marketplace to offer enhanced mobile experiences. For example, vendors can offer high-speed mobile gaming or VR services. Smart stadiums could allow attendees to watch the action using multiple camera angles fed to their smartphones. Hybrid Wi-Fi plans could combine Wi-Fi services with 5G for fast, ultra-stable internet services. Companies can sell real-time translation services for international travelers, taking advantage of 5G and edge computing services.

Remaining Questions About The Telecom Marketplace Model

There is still some question as to what technologies will need to be in place to make a 5G marketplace viable. For example, implementing 5G over a core 4G infrastructure provides sufficient bandwidth and capacity to accommodate data traffic for IoT applications such as smart buildings. Unlocking the full potential of 5G requires a more robust infrastructure for functions like network slicing. Ultra-low latency will be required to support AR and VR, manufacturing automation, autonomous cars and other applications.

Monetizing new 5G services also will require complex billing and partner settlements that can translate services like network slicing into revenue. Rather than billing based on consumption (i.e., bytes or minutes uses), value-based services will need to be able to bill based on performance and user experience. That means new metrics are needed to support these complex billing models.

Strategic partners must work with CSPs to create new revenue-sharing models. Automated billing can use real-time data to enable revenue sharing and allocating fees for tariffs and taxes. Tiered pricing also can be created to enable 5G service wholesalers. However, the success of the 5G marketplace model requires industry acceptance as well as an improved infrastructure.

What is clear is that the market for 5G services is accelerating, and vendors need to be ready to explore new ideas and new revenue strategies. The 5G marketplace is on the horizon, and it will have a flexible, agile infrastructure with a robust monetization platform that will invite innovation.


Traditionally, communication service providers (CSPs) have charged for services based on network metrics like volume of data consumed or minutes of use. But in a marketplace environment, where CSPs are partnering with other vendors to provide more complex service offerings, the monetization strategies have to match.

In last year’s TM Forum Catalyst project, Gotransverse collaborated with Verizon, Vodafone Group, Blue Planet (a division of Ciena), MATRIXX Software, and Salesforce to demonstrate how to supercharge 5G monetization through a marketplace that can support new business models selling value-based 5G services.

The TM Forum Catalyst project demonstrated a CSP marketplace that:

  • Enabled third-party partners to innovate their products and services and transform their commercial models through embedding 5G network slices and multi-access edge computer (MEC) capabilities.
  • Transformed customer experience through positioning offers in value-based terms rather than in underlying network metrics.
  • Facilitated sharing of revenue across all parties in the value chain. 

The critical capabilities that CSPs end-to-end marketplace business processes supported to provide real-time pricing quotes for on-the-fly-changes included:

  • Knowledge of resources available at a service location – in addition to dynamic pricing based on value delivered, network load, size and duration of slice increase requested, and actual usage.
  • Built-in, automated revenue sharing across multiple partners – CSPs, device vendors, edge network operators, application developers, and other service providers.
  • Real-time insight and forecasts for dynamic pricing. For example, CSPs can offer discounted services during low-load periods to improve customer engagement and increase revenue.
  • Predictive analytics with real-time network data empowerment means the customers can activate more features with more bandwidth and MEC while saving money.

The marketplace monetization solution provided an end-to-end real-time performance awareness to adapt to customer-facing business processes. As a result, the 5G infrastructure could efficiently use resources while creating new monetization opportunities for CSPs and their partners.


Marketplace monetization opportunities and challenges 

CSP monetization opportunities

A CSP-operated B2B2X marketplace, where the CSP owns the customer, provides a digital self-service portal for buying and bundling services from a single CSP and its ecosystem partners. 

The B2B2X marketplace enables monetization opportunities for CSPs through

  • Establishing strategic partnerships with the marketplace partners;
  • Generating additional revenue from those partners;
  • Maximizing network resources and investments through effective utilization of infrastructure and fixed costs;
  • Nurturing customer relationships by providing value-driven products or services, which in turn leads to increased spending on their part.

Unlike previous network generations, 5G and MEC resources should offer guaranteed service levels rather than best-effort service levels – depending on the network workload, slice size requested, and upgrade duration – to drive innovations across industry verticals.

By simplifying the onboarding process for new partners, CSPs can create an environment where sellers connected to the marketplace have seamless experiences. Additionally, the E2E service lifecycle management should be automated to help monetize CSP resources and drive marketplace growth agilely– allowing businesses to learn quickly from successes and failures.

Marketplace implementation challenges

CSPs face substantial challenges when implementing a marketplace solution, such as outdated infrastructure that inhibits technological progress and inadequate data management systems. In addition, there are also organizational issues like resistance to change and the need for more expertise within the team. Therefore, a strategic approach for alignment between a Network Company (NetCo) and an Operating Company (OpCo) is also essential to successfully establish this marketplace solution.


5G-enabled edge-aware monetization demo scenarios for the construction industry

The TM Forum catalyst project demonstrated the partner, operator, and customer experiences in creating, launching, and using bundled services for an industry-specific solution. In this case, a simplified construction industry solution demonstrated increased safety and job efficiency through 5G-enabled devices and services.

Gotransverse and catalyst partners showcased what attracts partners to the CSP’s ecosystem, how the CSP optimizes network usage and shares revenue, and how industry customers can benefit from advances made possible by 5G technology.

Demo requirements for marketplace partners

Partner requirements

  • To self-onboard and create products in the CSP’s marketplace 
  • To associate industry-specific devices and applications, with multiple features and benefits, to the network and MEC resources required to make them function correctly
  • To review and select resources, based upon availability in a location, that specify basic (minimum) network and MEC resources needed for a device/feature to function correctly, as well as “boost” (increased) resource levels that will enable additional customer features and services
  • To review accounts, customers, products, and services usage through a CSP-provided dashboard

CSP requirements

  • To offer 5G network and MEC resource partner pricing that will enable advanced products and services to function 
  • To bundle elements from numerous partners, along with network and MEC resources, into offers and sell to customers through a commerce portal
  • To orchestrate, provision, adaptively charge, and bill for products when defined, purchased, used, or when network resources are boosted or scaled up based on load or user request
  • To bill customers for devices, applications, and services purchased and used
  • To charge and share revenue with partners according to the terms specified during the partner onboarding process

Customer requirements

  • To search for and purchase industry-specific offers available at its location through the CSP’s commerce portal
  • To view purchased products and offers, charges and balances in real-time
  • To activate enhanced features that will, in turn, initiate a resource “boost” where orchestration, provisioning, and charging will happen in real-time


Architecture for marketplace monetization 

The marketplace monetization solution architecture supported below 5G-enabled edge-aware innovations.

Edge-aware shopping with 5G capacity and MEC resources inconsistently available during the build-out stage, it is critical to present available resources in real-time in the context of the offers and locations, particularly for latency or bandwidth-dependent edge-based applications. 

Network orchestration automatically adjusting resources to guarantee service levels, paired with real-time charging that reflects current network load levels, will significantly benefit operational efficiencies, time to revenue, and improved customer experience. 

Adaptive charging and monetization a long-established capability of prepaid consumer services. 5G CSP marketplace brings these capabilities into more sophisticated offers for partners, enterprises, and industry customers. 

Value-based pricing describes a product’s function, not data consumed, or minutes used. 

Spot pricing real-time, dynamic interactions between the network, the monetization layer, and the customer engagement layer enabling notifications to customers of discounts in low-utilization periods. 

Gotransverse Revenue Management Capabilities for the Catalyst Project

Gotransverse was responsible for the complete revenue management of a 5G-enabled edge-aware construction-industry solution. Below are some of the tasks that Gotransverse carried out during the different stages of this catalyst project.

  • Account hierarchy provisioning (including partner settlement account and partner product (5G slice) creation), settlement configuration, and revenue recognition configuration for partner and product onboarding during the concept-to-launch phase for marketplace operator 
  • Customer billing account creation and product creation for customer order fulfillment during the browse-to-cash phase for marketplace operator 
  • Account creation, order and service instantiation, one-time-charge, invoice on demand, tax determination, payment processing, and revenue recognition for partner settlement and customer invoicing during the browse-to-cash phase for enterprise customer
  • Pushed data to the data lake, self-service API exposure, order change, and temporary price override for enterprise customers to generate network insights to enable dynamic monetization during the cash-to-care phase


The business impact of 5G-enabled edge-aware marketplace

Gotransverse and the catalyst partners showcased several business advantages with this 5G-enabled edge-ware marketplace catalyst. For example, rather than just focusing on the technical aspects of their network, CSPs can extend their promotional strategies by offering value-based services. 

Customers were incentivized to use the network and MEC resources during low utilization periods while being granted high-value offerings; as a result, there was an improvement in customer engagement and overall satisfaction levels. 

The catalyst also showcased how CSPs can become indispensable partners for the device, service, and value-added service providers. By collaborating with them, the CSP has the potential to revolutionize their products through innovation, create new customer connections, and ultimately evolve commercial models resulting in deeper commitment from their partners.

In summary, the B2B2X marketplace with the 5G-enabled and edge-aware industry-specific solution can enhance and stabilize a CSP’s growth. By expanding and building similar use cases and partnerships in adjacent industries, such as manufacturing and beyond, CSP can drive robust growth while ensuring customer retention and satisfaction, ensuring revenue protection, and improving costs for customer acquisition.

5G revenues are falling short of expectations, so what was not anticipated?

The industry approach to 5G has been in the wrong direction. It is very technology-centric. The industry, in general, not only for 5G but for the whole business going forward, should anchor itself on what customers are doing, what they need, and how they are connected. The reality is that customers are sometimes connected to 5G networks, but quite often, they are connected to other networks, and sometimes they are connected to networks that are 5G but operated by other network service providers. Hence, as network service providers, we need to anchor ourselves in the reality of what we can actually control with those customers and when. Operators are also in a great position as an industry because the demand for what they deliver increases continuously. Each network operator has a large customer base, counting to the millions, so anchoring in improving the customer experience where they are actually connected to their own network is where operators need to stop.

What reality do operators need to accept about consumers’ and enterprises’ mindsets about 5G?

For consumers, the operators need to accept the reality as an industry that consumers today receive a great experience from what the 4G network delivers. Consumers want a better experience, but they do not want to pay more. A better experience is either a more responsive experience or a richer experience. With 5G, operators can start delivering more augmented experiences with a higher response rate, but with an understanding that consumers will not pay more for this enhanced experience. Operators can improve efficiency, improve the experience, and also lower churn. However, this will not generate revenue for the operators.

For enterprises, operators must embrace the fact that enterprises want business outcomes. Enterprises do not want to buy one 5G network, they want to integrate many networks. Operators must embrace the fact that they are an ingredient at the network level with an enterprise and a part of the overall solution. Operators can choose to move higher in the value chain, but then they have to start delivering things beyond the network.

Operators must turn their gaze to new opportunities. Where should they be looking?

At the moment, we have been living at the most exciting time in our industry for the last 15 years. The last time we were in this inflection point was around 2005 to 2007, that was when we first defined something called Web 2.0. Web 2.0 made the difference when the software community started putting together easy-to-use tooling to create interactive two-way applications. We saw the growth and explosion of Web 2.0, and it works fine. However, we need to improve the efficiency and interactiveness of those experiences. People, in general, understand what they pay, and they won’t pay more.

What is now happening is the revolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the democratization of those engines to complement our lives as consumers and enterprises. In the background, the software community is progressing with open-source solutions and tools to create the next flow of experiences that will go into every aspect of our lives. All the experiences are as good as the data received, the data’s timeliness, and the data’s quality. The network operators are responsible for providing the data to the AI engines to ensure that the responses and actions can be prompt and useful. Operators must focus on AI and real-time action-oriented experiences that today’s infrastructure does not support. We, as operators, should fill the gap and participate in the growing developer and application community.

What roles exist for operators that recognize new opportunities in the high-performance computing and AI-driven world?

Connectivity Business

Operators have an existing business, which is a connectivity business. As operators, we have built a 5G network that is very high-capacity and very far-reaching. Operators can go to market with products of that network that are connectivity centric, where people accept that it only works on that one network. Examples that are already tractioning with success are Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and private 5G. That is the core network operator business, i.e., the connectivity business.

Cloud-native and Edge Cloud Providers

The next level of business requires operators to transform into being true cloud-native and edge cloud providers. This is where the operator offers a high-performance computing platform for its own workloads at the edge and for third-party workloads. Operators will have the proximity to cope with the large amounts of data transfer and the low latencies required for supporting experiences such as extended reality for consumers and the ultra-low latency responses required for autonomous vehicles. The core workload that pays for all that infrastructure in a cloud-native truly 5G network is the actual radio workload, which also requires high-performance computing and low latency.

AI models in operation and full solution stack

The next opportunity for operators is to provide AI models in operation and the full solution stack. The explosion that’s happening at the moment is the ability to empower the universal sensor, which is the video camera, and the ability to identify objects, enable privacy and transform those objects, those video streams into the intelligence of seeing, which is transforming every single industry. As an operator industry and the telecom industry, we have the chance to enable that over wide area use cases, and there is no reason we cannot do that. However, we cannot do that just by being a connectivity business.

How do you recommend operators need to approach monetization strategies going forward?

Network operators need to clearly define and embrace the realities of the customers they’re delivering to. They must move away from this concept of 5G being the universal answer for everything, including world peace. Operators must embrace that 5G is highly valuable as a connectivity business. They must also embrace the value of high volume and low latency data and power the AI models. Moving into those two bigger and exploding value chains will enable operators to monetize connectivity in a new way.

That is a question that the entire telecoms sector is asking, and, in truth, there isn’t a quick answer 5G isn’t a one-size-fits-all technology. So, it’s important to take a customer-first approach, understand the problem and then provide the solution and unlock the business benefits.

Private Networks (PNs)

Of course, there is the obvious consumer play. Fixed wireless access is a great volume option for small site primary or backup connectivity. But the area I’d like to focus on is 5G Private Networks (PNs). Because I am in no doubt that as an underlying technology, 5G PNs will be a key enabler for businesses across the globe over the next five to ten years – switching on the benefits of digital tech across different sectors. I speak to business customers regularly, and I am yet to find any industry that will just buy a 5G PN just because it’s 5G. I hear everything from “my Wi-Fi is fine for my business right now,” to “yes, I’d love a private network, but I cannot afford one.”

So, rather than being about commercializing 5G, are we actually talking about commercializing the benefits that 5G enables? 

I believe it’s the latter.

New Business Models

And this is where new business models become significant, such as creating a marketplace for IoT devices or hosting virtual and augmented reality applications. Equally, identifying where customers can unlock value:

  • Reducing their reliance on public cellular networks
  • Lowering the cost of connecting devices and machines to the internet
  • Increasing the efficiency of operations

At BT, we work very closely with customers who are embarking on a digital transformation to understand how they can transform as a business. What benefits are they looking to achieve, and what pain points or blockers stop them from achieving their business aims? It requires deep trust, solid relationships at all levels, and a consultative engagement lasting for months. In essence, we see ourselves as partners for our customers: building the business case for digitizing their operations, helping them transform, and unlocking business value as a result.

Faced with growth opportunities in renewables but also challenges such as regulatory and government enforcements, sustainability targets, lack of workers with the right skills, and ongoing cyber threats, they are turning to technology as a key enabler to address their business goals.

One industry that we see accelerating their digital plans is the Energy sector, including Oil & Gas.

Faced with growth opportunities in renewables but also challenges such as regulatory and government enforcements, sustainability targets, lack of workers with the right skills, and ongoing cyber threats, they are turning to technology as a key enabler to address their business goals.

Areas such as IoT, AI, automation, and big data are all underpinned by the low latency, high throughputs, speed, and security, that 5G PN’s can provide.

In fact, with some customers, we’re seeing up to 75% of their annual IT budget aimed at these new technologies.

Key themes from the oil and gas industry


Remote operations and communication

Operations often take place in remote locations with limited or unreliable communication infrastructure. This makes it difficult to monitor and control operations effectively and to transfer data and communicate with personnel on-site. 5G PN’s can provide reliable, high-speed connectivity to overcome these challenges.

Safety and Security

There can be several safety and security risks, including the potential for leaks, spills, and other hazards. 5G PN’s can support the use of connected devices and sensors to detect and prevent such hazards.

Efficiency and Productivity

Operations can be complex and resource-intensive, with many different processes and equipment to manage and maintain. 5G PN’s can support automation and real-time data analysis to improve efficiency and productivity and reduce the need for manual labor.

Training and Maintenance

Training personnel and maintaining equipment and facilities can be costly and time-consuming. 5G PN’s can support virtual and augmented reality for training and maintenance, making things more efficient and cost-effective.

Data-intensive applications

Operations generate a lot of data, which needs to be analyzed and used to make decisions. 5G PN’s can support the transfer of large amounts of data to data centers for analysis in real-time, allowing for faster decision-making and improved safety and efficiency.


It’s important to think big but start small. What is the art of the possible? And where do we begin? A simple methodology is to map out use cases and potential benefits against three macro transformation drivers: productivity, efficiency, and safety. We normally reach a core prioritized list of use cases that will deliver enough value to our customers, which more than offsets the cost of investment. 

When it comes to advancing further adoption of 5G PN’s, it’s important to focus on outcomes rather than just 5G.  It’s about using a test-and-learn approach, working in partnership, and being agile in an environment that is constantly evolving.  

5G represents a significant shift in how we connect to the world around us and has the potential to completely transform the way we live, work, and play. The ground-breaking technology is set to revolutionize the various sectors of industry by delivering multi-Gbps data speeds, massive network capacity, and ultra-low latency guaranteeing high security, reliability, and service availability.

Yet behind the scenes, there are still several factors that could strongly impact just how transformative this technology will be in years to come. In the end, it will all boil down to one single question:

How will mobile network operators succeed in 5G monetization?

5G network rollouts are now sprouting around the globe as operators get to grips with the potential of new enterprise applications. These applications are rapidly developing in areas such as automation in production, mining, and factories; smart harboring and supply chain visibility, self-driving cars, and sophisticated B2B solutions within finance, healthcare, and logistics, and are the new critical services in focus for 5G deployments and rollouts. 

As exciting as these are, the applications bring new real-time and availability requirements to 5G networks. Real-time applications like self-driving cars and remote workflows in different industries and automation in production require not only low latency but also a secure and resilient infrastructure that ensures service availability 24/7. These new applications represent huge potential value for 5G operators but there are still hurdles that need to be overcome for this value to materialize. 

Realtime services and applications place new demands on overall network performance and reliability. As a result, mobile operators are under pressure to improve their networks to ensure a high-quality user experience supported by high service availability.

5G – A new network that requires a futureproof approach

5G is not just an evolution of technology, it is an entirely new network requiring a new approach to scalability, manageability, network operations, and security. Only through a deeper understanding of the concerns that are connected to this new network architecture can successful 5G rollouts be achieved. 

Many mobile operators are faced with the problems of trying to bridge legacy and new 5G equipment, creating complex heterogeneous network environments. Such environments risk increasing OPEX (operational cost) and complexity and threaten their operational reactivity and adaptability to change. 

The way for mobile network operators to address the complexity of the multivendor telecom environment is to turn to open and disaggregated solutions, meaning embracing open standards, open APIs (Application Protocol Interface), and solutions that work separated from and independent of underlying network infrastructures. Not only will this approach help decrease the network complexity – it will also contribute to the effective usage of existing networks and avoidance of vendor lock-in and costly forklift upgrades.  

A completely new yet fundamental function in 5G TDD (Time Division Duplex) networks that have not been widely discussed is time synchronization. Depending on which solution mobile operators will rely on, it will severely affect the security, performance, complexity, and cost of 5G networks. Current network-based time synchronization solutions are also inherently tied to the physical transport layer and violate the fundamental open and disaggregated principles of modern networks.

Accurate Time – A mission-critical capability for successful 5G networks

5G TDD (Time Division Duplex) in contrast to 4G FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) networks, require very precise time synchronization to provide high network performance and ensure service availability. Without accurate time, it becomes impossible to launch new valuable and mission-critical applications and services, making time synchronization a key network capability for 5G monetization. There are two main options to distribute time in 5G networks, GPS/GNSS and the IEEE standard PTP (Precision Time Protocol), but both have critical challenges when it comes to cost and security.

GPS/GNSS becomes a threat to security and service availability
Many network operators have relied on GNSS/GPS for time synchronization, but these systems are very vulnerable to jamming and spoofing attacks. Over the last five years, intentional jamming and spoofing have increased over 1000 times and are expected to be even more common in the years to come. This is threatening service security, availability, and national sovereignty. As an effect, some international regulators (e.g., EASA) and governments (e.g., Sweden and Vietnam) have already mandated the implementation of solutions that are independent of and do not rely on satellite signals to improve security and reliability in 5G networks.

IEEE standard PTP has scalability limitations that drive CAPEX and OPEX
To handle the new strict requirements for accurate time in 5G using the IEEE standard PTP (IEEE1588) requires full on-path PTP support in each node and line card everywhere in the network. This increases complexity and OPEX and often requires significant forklift upgrades (CAPEX) of the network.

Lack of accurate time threatens 5G TDD rollouts

Current PTP solutions cannot provide accurate time over leased line capacity. Since most operators use leased lines in parts of their networks, this has, in several countries, prevented a fast rollout of TDD in 5G networks. Without TDD, spectrum efficiency and performance of 5G networks are significantly reduced, which strongly impacts operators’ 5G business cases. 

Securing 5G RoI through effective network operations 

Over the last decade, operators have realized the importance of telemetry for network monitoring and visualization of the health and status of their network. These capabilities also have a direct impact on 5G RoI, as the ability to reduce the time for troubleshooting and remedy is directly related to service security and availability. Synchronization is no exception. Such a critical influencer on quality of service needs to be monitored, measured, and visualized in real-time to proactively find problems and provide leading indicators for optimal network planning. 

Precision TimeNet – Designed for future mobile networks

Precision TimeNet is an innovative solution that effectively solves time synchronization in 5G TDD networks by leveraging existing telecom networks without requiring further capital investments (CAPEX). The solution embodies all the key components that make an accurate timekeeper a future-proof choice for the world’s mobile networks. 

Independent time distribution over existing network

A more secure alternative to GNSS/GPS synchronization in 5G TDD networks is to choose an in-network solution that is immune to spoofing and jamming. PTP has been the obvious choice but does not provide the accuracy needed for 5G over existing networks without full hardware support in every network node. Precision TimeNet works independently of GPS/GNSS and is designed to provide accurate time synchronization in mission-critical networks with high availability and security. The solution disaggregates time to transfer from the physical transport, transforming time into an end-to-end service over existing IP/MPLS networks. This also makes it possible to provide accurate time over leased lines, facilitating faster 5G TDD deployments.

The market’s most open 5G synchronization

Precision TimeNet is a disaggregated overlay timing solution that works independently of network components, network capacity, and network layers, effectively allowing mobile network operators to benefit from virtualization and cloud solutions. It follows the common open, end-to-end network principles with open APIs that make it independent of network architecture or equipment vendors. A disaggregated synchronization will also fit better into future OpenRAN and virtualized cloud models.

Visibility and metrics to secure service availability and reduce OPEX

The Precision TimeNet solution enables active monitoring of 5G synchronization over any network infrastructure, including leased lines. This effectively allows mobile network operators to optimize synchronization and network configuration which reduces trouble-shooting response times and achieves better service availability and overall network efficiency. The result is an always-on, high-performing synchronization solution, effectively providing accurate time distribution out to all base stations, independent of the underlying infrastructure. Through the centralized collection of all real-time metrics, combined with self-learning elements, the Precision TimeNet Controller provides support for sophisticated traffic planning based on network-specific changes in network traffic patterns. 

Steps to cost-effective and future-proof 5G synchronization

To fully profit from the 5G era, operators must increase their awareness and understanding of the significance of accurate time in the 5G TDD network. This can be achieved by asking the following key questions: 

  • What requirements do new critical services and applications introduce in 5G networks in terms of increased security, service availability, reliability, and resiliency?
  • How will these new requirements impact the network’s ability to provide accurate time in the Backhaul and out to the Fronthaul and Radio Access? 
  • How does GNSS/GPS dependency threaten to affect and damage RoI? 
  • When will cost and complexity due to 5G synchronization investments threaten to overturn the business case in the 5G network rollout process? 

Constant review of these questions can help foster an in-depth understanding across operators’ organizations. Act accordingly to secure 5G network investments and enable the successful implementation of new critical services that will make significant contributions to ROI   

Responsibility and ownership

Operators must take full ownership of the 5G synchronization end-to-end by choosing a solution that works over any network infrastructure, including leased lines, to securely provide SLAs, critical service availability, and reliability. They must ensure that the solution supports heterogeneous network environments to avoid vendor lock-in and unnecessary fork-lift upgrades and enable the seamless introduction of new services and applications. 

Security and reliability

Since time is a fundamental feature in 5G TDD networks to ensure service availability and performance, it also becomes a potential target for attacks. Many 5G networks still use GPS/GNSS as the primary synchronization source, and GNSS has become a primary target in many geo-political conflicts. The number of jamming incidents has increased over a thousandfold during the last five years. In conflict areas like Syria and Ukraine, GNSS signals are constantly jammed and also spill over to adversely affecting neighboring countries. Architecting a reliable and redundant synchronization solution is becoming increasingly important to ensure the highest service availability and 5G performance. Several countries have recently mandated GNSS/GPS independence in 5G networks as a requirement for maintaining the 5G license to ensure national security services and sovereign control.

Learning through measuring

Through continuous measuring of time data on different network intelligence levels (both on a node level and centrally) and identifying which key metrics to focus on, proactive and effective network evaluation and troubleshooting can be performed. Measuring and visualizing time-specific and real-time metrics is key to gaining more in-depth network insights to help optimize network performance and service availability. Through a 5G synchronization solution that is supported by open APIs and a centralized controller/analyzer, thousands of real-time metrics can be collected every second. 

Improving through learning

The combination of real-time measuring and centralized intelligence will allow operators to identify network performance gaps and quickly find their root causes. This can lead to proactive improvements and synergies across platforms that will help resolve issues in the full network. With continuous improvements made through learning, it will become a much easier reality to assure secure and reliable end-to-end service availability in 5G networks.  

Cost-effective investment

With in-depth knowledge of network overall performance through key time data metrics, network planning and optimization can be made. This will allow for proactive, cost-efficient network investment planning in critical areas. 


Defining 5G Monetization

People in our industry talk about 5G monetization in many ways. Hosting on edge, network slicing, and enterprise 5G are common, to name a few. Those are all interesting use cases with the potential for scalable business models.

But at the end of the day, it’s about consumers. I want to talk about them. 

The lion’s share of a telecom’s revenue comes from data and voice services. Therefore, to truly monetize 5G, we need to provide consumers with 1) services they want to use that  2) demonstrate the value of 5G. This is how consumers rationalize the price they pay for accessing our network.   

With each generation, we have seen a media type demonstrate the value of our network. In 2G, it was MMS, 3G Music, 4G was Movies and better Music on mobile, and for 5G, it’s Metaverse. 

We’ve seen that better isn’t really enough. Something new, transformational, is required to define the next generation. That’s why Metaverse services are so important and why it presents new opportunities for carriers to redefine their relationship with customers. 


Framing the Metaverse

People debate the meaning of Metaverse, and the hype cycle has provided enormous numbers for market size and growth. Framing what we mean by “metaverse” can help provide focus.   

I describe the Metaverse as a “Connected, Immersive, and Interactive 3D Environment.” 

The general consensus appears to be that these types of services are either a form of mixed reality or Web3 applications that exist on a spectrum of web, mobile, and new form factors,  especially Head Mounted Displays (HMDs). 

That said, I believe the defining quality of Metaverse services is the concept of Presence — a sense of “being there” that involves transferring consciousness to a simulated environment (VR) or transferring a simulated environment to a consciousness (AR). In a recent interview, I referred to Metaverse services like Roblox or SK Telecom’s Ifland as “2D Metaverses,” but I think this was inaccurate. I was trying to capture that these services are important iterations for the Metaverse, but they cannot yet provide a transformative experience of Presence

What they do provide is 1) value to consumers through a new media type unique from music or movies; and 2) scale and opportunities for operators to iterate in the metaverse. In other words, while these services lack a transformative sense of Presence, they provide a critical path for creating metaverse services at a mobile scale and address compelling consumer behaviors. Presence can and will be iterated into many of these services, in the meantime, they provide meaningful insights and opportunities for mobile operators. 


Why Ifland matters to Mobile Network Operators 

First and foremost, it’s an operator-driven platform which means it’s an opportunity for MNOs to collaborate to build a global-scale consumer-facing platform that takes advantage of our strengths and ensures the highest quality of services and safety to our customers. It allows MNOs to experiment with features and emerging technologies, and use cases as they see fit without depending on the direction of a third party.

Today, Ifland exists primarily on mobile, but it will iterate to include the web and can extend to offer both AR and VR experiences as those devices gain greater traction in the coming years. 

Like Roblox, Ifland provides customers with a unique sense of ownership that sort of provides Presence in that there is a significant investment in their digital identities there. Highly customizable avatars, virtual goods and spaces, and more can be consumed, created, bought, and sold. 

SK Telecom continues to add ways to empower a variety of creators to express themselves and reach their audience… removing distribution barriers for digital content. It also provides new opportunities for brand partners to engage with customers and learn new information about consumer preferences. 

Considering benchmarks like Roblox, the market opportunity for SK Telecom and its partners is substantial, but it’s even more exciting for customers. It is also exciting to consider how these services can take advantage of the network today and in the future.

Today, when you download Ifland, it’s like any other mobile application. However, to participate, you need to download large packs along your journey. This use case is only possible on an LTE-A or 5G network because the packs are large. Customers will bounce quickly if they are forced to wait more than a few seconds to feel a sense of reward once they have engaged in an activity.

Tomorrow, while nothing is defined, it’s easy to imagine consumers opting to jump into their digital identities in a Virtual World to feel “like they are there” with their friends; or taking their digital goods with them IRL through AR extensions that enable a Cambrian explosion of self-expression. 

Assuming services like Ifland are providing a compelling use case for customers, they are also demonstrating the value of the network. Importantly, they can also teach us a lot about how the next generation of customers wants to collect, create and engage. But we cannot stop there. 


Importance of Building for Presence

Consider this: in 7 years, will a college freshman prefer to take a combination of mobile device and HMD or mobile device and PC? 

You need to answer this for yourself, but I believe that mobile makes PCs redundant, except for the monitor and (maybe…) the tactile keyboard. Having a large monitor to work on is a compelling use case for work, even if that monitor is a Notebook PC, it’s still often better than a mobile phone.

What happens when I can access all my work in the cloud from a device that comfortably enables me to be productive with any monitor size I want? What about when instead of a video call, I can collaborate virtually and feel present with my colleagues? Or play immersive games, and watch movies together with friends on cinematic screens with spatial audio? Not to mention software that enables experiential learning, providing students with significantly higher retention. 

The answer is clear to me. If you agree, it’s clear why we need to learn how to build for these use cases now. Presence is going to define the next generation of human-computer interaction.


Laying the Foundation

Starting with services like Ifland, the metaverse can demonstrate significant value to customers while also driving innovations in networking technology. They are a good place to start because they’re mobile, operate with familiar metrics and technologies, and leverage the network as it exists in many markets today. They also provide a platform for learning how to implement new use cases and features like Digital Events in Virtual Worlds, Avatars, Virtual Goods, Creator Tools, and NFTs. But to capture a strong market position in the future, investing now across the Metaverse Value Chain is important. 

Not everything is going to be the CEO’s top priority today, but the convergence of Network, Cloud, Blockchain, Generative AI, and other technologies will lead to breakthroughs that will transform the human experience. 

Some things to consider doing now: 

Partnerships with leaders in Mixed Reality to spur market development

Working with companies like Meta to distribute Mixed Reality HMDs and promote those services is an opportunity to learn about sticky use cases and business models.

Invest in startups or funds focused on the metaverse

Understanding who the players are, building relationships, and defining a vision for your role in presence-driven experiences is an important hedge against future competition.

Build something in Mixed Reality today 

Mixed Reality, especially VR, offers the most successful presence-driven experiences today; if you don’t take time to learn how to build them, services outside of your control could once again dominate traffic on top of your network.

Read the complete article in the 5G Magazine

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