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Future Vision Tech Center

Moving on from spectrum policies of the 1990s

Our idea of what a mobile network operator looks like is defined by the spectrum policies laid down in the 1990s – big companies that operate in national territories, using massive spectrum holdings to deliver a basically homogeneous service to subscriber bases in the millions. Neither carrier enterprise divisions, nor MVNOs, have really managed to challenge these assumptions or offer meaningfully differentiated services.

At our Future Vision event, though, you could see the contours of a very different future emerging. Under the radar, industrial, community and other private networks are proliferating, helped by a new wave of spectrum liberalization. Fascinatingly, some pioneer operators are beginning to expand off-footprint, making use of the new local-use spectrum policies in the US, Germany, Britain, Japan and elsewhere to follow their multinational clients wherever they go in the world. And at the same time, a new class of alternative service providers are emerging to challenge them, starting out as ISPs, systems integrators, VARs and others.

It’s worth remembering, though, that the enterprises that are the final customer for all this want solutions to their problems rather than 5G as such. Value is eventually created at the applications layer. At the same time, the new ecosystem of enterprise 5G is intimately linked to the emerging edge computing space. The winners in this new market will be the players who can pull together the right team of partners.

— Alexander Harrowell, Senior Analyst, SoHo & SME Services, Omdia

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