The momentum of 5G has kept getting stronger and the technology has quickly become the fastest-adopted mobile generation in history. Two years after the first commercial 5G network was switch on, more than 140 5G networks have gone live throughout the world, already serving over 300 million users.
Despite the fast network rollout and strong customer enthusiasm, how to generate healthy return on operators’ investment in 5G remains a challenge. In most cases, operators are still using faster internet access and larger data packages as the main selling points. Meanwhile, most of the value-added services being offered are still legacy products from 4G or even earlier times that are quickly losing appeal to customers.
Against the challenging backdrop, Huawei recently unveiled its new software strategy to help operators and other industry partners to shore up the monetisation and innovation services in the 5G era. "Based on past over 20 years investment, Huawei is taking lead in the industry and embracing cloud to evolve toward 5G and 2B market especially in digital services and business operations," mentioned by Maurice Ma, President, Software Business Dept., Global Technical Service, Huawei.
This is a response to the new reality in the 5G era, in particular the focus of business moving from features and functions to architecture and operation. This migration presents operators with three most pertinent questions: What are the innovative communication services to enable operator’s quick win? How cloud-ready and platform agnostic the architecture can become to monetize new opportunities and evolve for future, and how capable and agile the architecture is to onboard continuous innovation and upgrading.
To answer these questions, we need to first look in more detail at the challenges 5G operators are facing. In addition to the dated product offerings, operators are also faced with the contrast between high OPEX and low operation efficiency, as well as the increased pressure on operators to turn their financial fortunes around. Over the last few years, mobile operators’ average weight of CAPEX as a percentage of revenue has increased from 16% to over 20%, while their average debt to EBITDA ratio has grown from 1.4x to 2.3x.
New innovative communication service to capture revenue growth
Starting with the aged products. While text messaging was extremely popular with consumers and extremely profitable for operators in the 2G and 3G years, things have changed. The messaging business, and the profit it generated, has largely been taken over and taken forward by applications like WhatsApp and WeChat, enabled by 4G networks. However 5G is presenting operator messaging services with a new opportunity. In addition to continued support for multimedia messaging, 5G enables more interactive messaging experience, making it an ideal tool for mobile operators to help enterprises connect with their customers in the native mobile ID ecosystem. This will create a new monetisation channel for operators in the B2B market. In China, Huawei helps carriers to deploy 5G Messaging platform to serve over 50% population. Meanwhile 5G messaging has been experimentally applied in multiple industries, such as government affairs, business travel, and logistics. There are 300 enterprises in more than 10 industries to develop 400 service accounts for trial use, which has been well received by enterprises and users. At the end of 2020 Huawei gained a first 5G messaging contract in Saudi Arabic and a proof of concept (POC) with a Europe Tier 1 operator now.
Other earlier successful products can also ride on 5G’s strong support for interactivity to make a comeback, albeit in new shapes. One of such earlier successes was music ring back tone, which can transform into video ring back tone (VRBT). This new product will not only enable end users to enrich their personalisation experience but also support business to individual (A2P) communication as well as for dissemination of important information. For instance, VRBT has played an important role of publicity in the battle against COVID-19. Anti-pandemic videos clocked up to more than 9 billion playbacks in China. Wide adoption in the market and evolving capabilities such as: HD, fast-play, and zero frame freezing experience, enables the video VRBT service has to become a basic service in 5G network. In oversea countries such as Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco, the video VRBT services haves also been launched.
New operation capabilities are essential to 5G’s success
. Here, Huawei’s next-generation Converged Billing System (CBS) supports many new 5G monetisation models. In July, Huawei will launch CBS R21which is the world's first cloud-native billing solution that supports micro-service and container architecture for both applications and databases. It provides High system reliability of 99.9999% with uninterrupted service and zero CDR loss. Huawei cooperates with carriers in China and abroad to conduct extensive exploration and practice in vertical industries, such as steel, power grid, campus, and port. Take a port enterprise in Shenzhen as an example, it developed various offerings and explored new multi-dimensional 5G charging models based on aspects including network, IT, data traffic, and services.
And the redesigned BSS comes with leading open and agile architecture and is telecom native. The key focus areas will include 5G, B2B business process, SaaS operation, configuration capability enhancement, intelligent recommendation, lightweight suite and independent deployment, and openness that enables DevOps to increase operational efficiency. SaaS subscription services based on the public cloud are provided in Europe, enabling customers to quickly complete deployment in light assets within three months. The first CSMF+ platform, which is 5G 2B BSS solution, has been launched in China to support the 5G smart steel project.
To assure 5G operators’ commercial success, Huawei will not only continue to support existing services and introduce new solutions, but also embrace a new open, cloud-based business model to enhance the collaboration with partners. Only through enabling and enriching the ecosystem for all can we help 5G operators to modernise their product offerings, improve efficiency, and deliver healthy return on investment.
This content is sponsored by Huawei.