Mobile operators have long been eyeing up the enterprise market as their best opportunity to make money from 5G, and with good reason, according to a new study from Polaris Market Research.
The research company predicts that the global 5G enterprise market will grow by a CAGR of 57.2% over the next seven years, reaching a total value of $31.4 billion by 2027.
Indeed, Antje Williams, Deutsche Telekom's senior vice president of 5G campus networks, has previously voiced skepticism about sales growth in the consumer market and sees the campus or private network market, by contrast, as fertile ground for DT.
The key issue for operators is to make sure they grab a slice of the pie, maintaining their role as the providers and operators of such networks and transforming themselves into valuable partners for enterprise customers. Indeed, previous research by analysts at Omdia, a sister company to Light Reading, found that operators are not doing a first-rate job of appealing to enterprise customers.
The subject of enterprise 5G was a hot topic at the 5G World virtual event this week. Panelists pointed out that while there's a big commercial opportunity for mobile operators targeting certain verticals, unlocking that potential could require industry-specific ecosystems and targeted applications.
Speakers also indicated that 5G deals are more likely to hinge on how 5G networks can meet specific customer needs. As a result, network operators are increasingly investing in areas beyond network technologies, and 5G is accelerating their transformation from network operators to IT companies, according to Christoph Aeschlimann, CTO at Swisscom.
Partnerships are also key. Operators on a separate panel pointed to the importance of their alliances within the industries that they are targeting as potential customers.
A recent example of such an alliance is that of Vodafone and Ford Motor Company. The two partners are installing a 5G private mobile network at the carmaker's new electric vehicle production site in Essex in the UK.
According to Omdia, working more effectively with customers is critical for operators to be successful in this market. Sometimes, accepting a secondary role in the ecosystem may be necessary, especially if the alternative is to be overlooked, they suggest.
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- 5G World Panel: 5G could be an enabler for vertical markets
- T-Mobile expands 'supercharged' 5G network to more cities
- T-Mobile plans widespread C-band tests for 5G
- Telefónica to cover 75% of Spanish population with 5G by the end of the year
— By Anne Morris, contributing editor, Light Reading