There has been a significant shift in CSP mindset (particularly among CSPs in developed countries) pertaining to 5G, with the perception of 5G evolving from a nice-to-have technology to a must-have technology in the past 12 months.
There are several key reasons for this change and for the corresponding acceleration and broadening of 5G deployment plans.
- Maintain competitiveness: 5G is
becoming a coveted marketing point, and early adopter CSPs are pressuring
would-be-late 5G adopters to come to market faster with their own competitive
5G offers to retain their subscriber bases for traditional network services,
namely mobile broadband.
- Margin protection: CSPs now view 5G as a key tool to help mitigate data traffic growth, as 5G offers up to 10 times reduction in cost-per-gigabyte compared to LTE.
- Attractive capex profile: The software upgradability of newer LTE RAN (manufactured as early as 2015 if from Ericsson) to 5G NR provides some CSPs with a relatively low-cost, seamless way to migrate from LTE to 5G. This enables CSPs to not only deploy 5G NR faster but also do so at a much lower cost compared to prior radio generations.
- Government pressure: CSPs in some countries are under pressure by governments to deploy 5G, as the technology has become nationally recognized as a strategic imperative. This is also stimulating the exploratory use of 5G for industrial purposes.
- Device availability: 5G-compatible devices, including not only smartphones but also wearables and home routers, are becoming widely available in the market in 2019, initiating a new wave of promotional activity and upgrades by consumers as they seek to obtain the newest technology.
- Fixed broadband alternative: The ability of 5G to provide a wireless fiber-like experience is being viewed by some CSPs as a game changer for the delivery of high-speed internet service. Not only are some CSPs, such as T-Mobile USA, aiming to leverage 5G to provide rural internet service, they also intend to leverage 5G to directly compete against cable operators and other fixed broadband operators for high-speed internet customers in mature markets.