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How network operators can capitalize on 5G (Reader Forum)

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How network operators can capitalize on 5G (Reader Forum)

5G is coming and represents a transformational opportunity for network operators

The arrival of 5G capabilities will present tremendous opportunity for network operators to grow if capitalized on correctly. Conversely, the trend could damage the growth prospects of these same companies if they miss the transformational shift that lies ahead of them.

The fifth generation of wireless technology is not just about additional and different antenna infrastructure needed to deliver users increased bandwidth and lower latency in their connections, but it’s equally about how this infrastructure disrupts the underlying network that serves those access points. There is much attention being paid to small cell deployments and for good reason. Although we are still a few years away from widespread 5G services, there are already deployments and capital investment in the market for the build out of new antenna connections to rooftops, utility poles, and “street furniture”. Moreover, there is no end in sight, with the United States alone expected to allocate $250 billion to 5G buildout over the next five years, inclusive of spectrum. But it’s important to not miss the effect of this build out on network operators, as it presents a massive opportunity to gain increased market share and relevance in the space.

Location-based insight will direct profitable 5G growth efforts

Network operators will likely need to construct tens of thousands of miles of new fiber infrastructure to support 5G. After all, without a comprehensive fiber footprint, 5G will not be able to deliver on its promise. This reality promises to be a very lucrative opportunity to network operators that are competitive and have the right strategy in place. However, no winner is guaranteed. Fiber operators will need to contend with a very competitive new construction market, including incumbents, MSOs and CAPS, that all have a very vested interest in capitalizing on 5G’s buildout. So how can a network operator architect their go-to-market efforts to profitably grow from the forthcoming 5G wave? The answer lies in location intelligence.

For decades, network operators have relied on manual efforts (and common knowledge) to identify optimal targets for their connectivity and organize their sales, marketing, and engineering efforts. They believed that they mostly knew the ideal businesses / opportunities in their coverage area and tried their best to keep up with the footprint and offerings of competitors. However, with 5G’s arrival, good enough will no longer be good enough. There will be an explosion of antennas and infrastructure that need support across all coverage areas and more competitors vying to support them.

Comprehensive, location-based insight will be the capability that enables network operators to capitalize on 5G. These companies will need trusted information at their fingertips to identify the total addressable market of 5G assets that could be covered by their network, effectively target those assets where they are most competitively positioned, and price their offerings in a way that optimizes profit margin. Moreover, it would be ideal for these participation, targeting, and pricing activities to be tightly integrated. For instance, to maximize participation in deals to service 5G antennas in their coverage area, a network provider will need to identify the market for 5G sites in their area and their specific location characteristics. Once identified, the operator will need to determine if they are really in the best position to service those antennas. They will need to know how, among other things, who will deploy those antennas and if there are competitive networks nearby that would be in a better position to capitalize on the opportunity. Finally, once the network provider understands the true opportunities that lie in their reach, they will need to price the deals to ensure that they not only win, but also do not unnecessarily sacrifice profit margin. They may be the only provider that can service that infrastructure and, therefore, can charge list price and reap the full profit margin. Conversely, the opportunity may be competitive and require some discounting to ensure the deal is secured.

Ultimately, this type of precise, location-based insight will be needed for network operators to fully capture the value of the 5G build out. It will direct their go-to-market efforts and ensure they are maximizing their revenue and profit margins as new business is being won and suppliers are being substituted.

Tackling 5G with data-driven insight requires a new mindset

While it’s easy to understand how location-based insight will help network operators tackle 5G, it’s important to note that this approach may require a new mindset for organizations that have been operating differently and with systems focused on paths and circuits, not locations. Heavily manual efforts to gather data on opportunities and to research competitors has been the norm. When technology and tools were inserted into the equation to help, they started creating information silos in the organization where “swivel chairing” then became the productivity-killer and “not quite right” data was abundant. To capture 5G opportunities, specificity and accuracy in data will be of paramount importance and this data will need to be in an integrated, easily accessible place. As the 5G roll out starts picking up steam, network operators will need to start demanding this type of location-specific, easily consumable insight. Failing to do so will result in falling further behind in the market as significant investment is being made, while those operators that re-architect their go-to-market strategy for 5G around location intelligence will be best positioned to exceed growth expectations.