MWC18: Netcracker’s 5G Monetization Solution Readies Operators for 5G Business Case Journey, but a Winner Is Essential in 2018

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Netcracker unveiled its new 5G monetization solution at Mobile World Congress 218, aimed at delivering the 5G use cases essential to justifying massive operator investments in 5G technology.
  • However, Netcracker must further sharpen its portfolio development and marketing on a breakthrough 5G use case, with e-health a leading candidate, to jump-start 5G monetization and avoid overextended, spread-out pursuit of effective 5G business cases.

At Mobile World Congress 2018, Netcracker launched its 5G monetization solution, publicizing growing operator demand for commercializing emerging 5G services, particularly during their transitions from 4G services to 5G services. Netcracker’s solution is developed to solve core 5G monetization challenges such as delivering the dynamic network slicing and distributed edge computing essential to executing new digital business models and extracting value from 5G offerings. Moreover, Netcracker is stressing that its solution meets the emerging requirements in building 5G use cases such as fixed wireless access, virtual/augmented entertainment and collaboration, remote medicine, and industrial robotics. By using open source software and distributed domain orchestration, the solution supports the cloud-native microservices architecture needed to lower the upfront costs of flexibly deploying services in order to arrive at delivering successful commercial 5G services.

So, what does Netcracker need to do to ensure its new 5G monetization solution delivers the new business use case operators desperately need to jump-start making money from 5G services? A few things quickly come to mind:

  • Pick a Winner: Netcracker needs to prioritize a 5G use case that will likely prove an early winner. The approach is key to avoiding having its 5G monetization solution come off as a jack-of-all-trades portfolio that is all things to all comers but potentially ineffective in breaking through the new 5G-specfic business case. There is risk in betting on a single or a select set of use cases before all the others. However, an early commitment is crucial to enabling operators to avoid fishing around too long before finding the right use case(s), and before over-the-top (OTT) digital brands like Amazon and Google beat them to the punch. Using the MWC18 event as a barometer, the e-health vertical continues to gain broader operator ecosystem support in driving groundbreaking, successful 5G use cases, due to factors like consumers and businesses expanding their adoption of IoT sensors for continuous health monitoring benefits. This also aligns with Netcracker calling out remote medicine applications as a potential business case winner. Additionally, operators, with their vast experience in meeting complex communications regulations, are better equipped than digital brands in meeting stringent national health privacy laws and mandates. Finally, by betting early on a likely business case winner, Netcracker and its key operator clients avoid diverting near-term resources to business cases that will probably require more time to become successful.
  • Avoid Losers: Netcracker is touting fixed wireless access and virtual/augmented entertainment as tangible 5G business cases. However, the fixed wireless access use case is specific to North America due to the promotional efforts of mobile operator titans Verizon and AT&T. These operators have the resources to sustain fixed wireless access investments long-term; however, there is risk the solutions will not deliver the targeted bandwidths and capabilities any time soon, repeating the failed fixed wireless access deployment efforts of the late 1990s and early 2000s. At MWC18, the broader use case of enhanced mobile broadband – i.e., boosting bandwidth to mobile consumers – is set to drive operator investments on a global level and avoid the region-bound fixed wireless access use case. Also, the underwhelming returns on operator-enabled virtual/augmented entertainment to date, and the implosion of the 3D TV business case from a few years earlier, invite skepticism on near-term entertainment monetization benefits. In 2018, avoiding the long-term, costly business case is just as important as finding the winning use case needed to jump-start 5G monetization.

Netcracker’s 5G monetization solution validates that operators require a flexible, modular platform to discover the 5G business cases key to their long-term competitiveness and countering digital OTT inroads including new 5G-based services. However, in 2018, the operators cannot afford to take too long in establishing the breakthrough use case that truly monetizes their 5G investments. This requires prioritizing the use case most likely to fuel a broad-based success, with e-health leading the way. Although the other use cases mentioned offer potential, the time is now to pick a winner and prove 5G monetization is real in 2018 and not at some indeterminate point in the future.

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