The features and functionality of 5G-Advanced means the technology is ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are likely to emerge in the enterprise sector, but only if mobile operators can consider its applications and turn use cases into practical solutions, according to a report commissioned by InterDigital.
5G-Advanced is designed to bring continuous enhancements in mobile network capabilities and use case-based support to help mobile operators with 5G commercialisation, long-term development of artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML), and network energy savings for a fully automated network and a sustainable future.
It is set to support applications such as extended reality (XR) and promises monetary opportunities to both the consumer markets, with use cases such as gaming and video streaming, as well as enterprise opportunities such as remote working and virtual training. Compared with previous mobile generations, 5G-Advanced creates an ecosystem for vertical markets and ongoing development in this area will continue to bring improvements on traffic throughputs, network coverage, power saving and anomaly detection.
The report, The state of 5G-Advanced: empowering new Vvrticals and industries, written for the mobile and video technology research and development company by market research firm ABI Research, outlined the development of 5G-Advanced between 2023 and 2026.
ABI noted that rapid adoption of 5G over the past three years makes it the most quickly adopted cellular generation to date. It added that efforts in 2018 to 2022 have focused on the foundational development of 5G, laying the groundwork for the new cellular generation and enhancing network capacity, speed, and latency.
This evolution said the analyst will be dedicated to the transformational phase of 5G, or 5G-Advanced, and will improve existing specifications, while also introducing features that aim to optimise network operations and pave the way for innovative enterprise use cases and business models that have not been feasible with earlier generations.
These features include: extended reality (XR), including AR and VR applications, set to be enhanced by 5G-Advanced’s promise to enable networks to better identify diverse applications and content; sidelink positioning, facilitating direct communication between devices, and will allow smartphones, wearables, and other gadgets to connect and interact with vehicles; RedCap, which will broaden 5G’s reach to power-limited devices such as IoT devices and AR/ VR equipment; passive or ambient IoT which aims to connect sensors and devices to cellular networks without a power source and that could dramatically increase the number of cellular IoT devices. ABI sees the latter as particularly becoming far more appealing to several enterprise verticals.
Alongside the enterprise opportunity, the report also reveals that 5G-Advanced will be critical for the monetisation of 5G, as well as for improving the energy efficiency of, and integrating automation into, 5G networks. The report suggests that among the features and improvements delivered 5G-Advanced will be new use cases which unlock new business opportunities, more efficient and sustainable networks, integration of AI and machine learning plus improved coverage and capacity.
Yet the study also highlighted why this latest network generation has not yet realised its potential in unlocking new business opportunities. ABI believes operators have struggled to tap into the enterprise market and to realise the vision for 5G, which is oriented beyond mobile broadband.
Despite new functionality introduced in 5G-Advanced, the report also warns that the “build it and they will come” philosophy on which operators have traditionally relied will not be successful in the enterprise domain unless they can fully understand and embrace the long tail of enterprise requirements and pain points.
ABI stressed that an additional step is necessary for 5G-Advanced’s success, namely understanding how to deploy and how to market these capabilities to enterprise verticals.
The conclusion was that the biggest priority for 5G-Advanced is to monetise existing 5G networks beyond the consumer domain and start creating large-scale opportunities in the enterprise space.
The report noted that operators that have already deployed 5G nationwide are well positioned to provide advanced enterprise functionality using their existing networks, translating into a faster return on investment (ROI), new revenue streams, and the opportunity to accelerate their public 5G network roll-outs further.
“The collective research and innovation efforts of the entire industry have laid an important foundation in 5G, but we must recognise that it’s not ‘finished’ and has yet to achieve its full potential,” said Milind Kulkarni, vice-president and head of wireless labs, InterDigital. “New features will be standardised in 5G-Advanced and 6G that significantly improve capabilities for operators, but importantly will open new opportunities in enterprise verticals.”