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    EDITORIAL How 5G will save the world – and could make MNOs and DCB much more popular

    The bold claim that 5G has the power to revolutionise society may well have been made by Vodafone in the UK to sweeten its proposed merger with Three, but the claim has some veracity. Better comms, faster video, more interaction, along with the potential to create even more compelling and engaging services are all big pluses and 5G could well be something that makes life if not better, then certainly better connected.

    But it won’t just be ‘the people’ that benefit, MNOs themselves have much to gain from 5G finally becoming ubiquitous – as do telemedia companies for that matter.

    5G could well be the thing that prevents MNOs becoming just dumb pipes – although, to be fair, it could also be the technology that finally makes them just dumb pipes – giving them the network that is fit to play in the modern world of content and engagement services.

    To date, 2, 3 and 4G have really not been up to the task of video streaming, live streaming and anything that requires ultra-low latency. Current 5G networks that piggyback on 4G are also not up to it. I was in central London at a concert and, despite having 5G, couldn’t send a WhatsApp as the other 100,000 Guns ‘n’ Roses fans around me were all trying to do the same. If you want to use your mobile to stream movies or do the other stuff modern citizens now deem a right, you can’t.

    Proper 5G can fix that – and in doing so suddenly makes mobile networks fit for purpose in the 2020s and 2030s, allowing people to do all the stuff they want to do, largely with streamed video, wherever and whenever they want to do it.

    This could be a massive boon for network operators as their networks suddenly do rival those of fixed line broadband, but with the added advantage that you can use them wherever you are. This is a game changer and, played right, could see MNOs become big players in streamed media services, live streaming, live shopping and more.

    Or, it could see them slip to become just the pipe that delivers all that for all the massive media brands that are already out there doing their thing.

    The move towards super-bundling increasingly looks like the tack that MNOs need to take, placing themselves at the heart not only of the content delivery, but also sitting in a place that adds value to the end-user… a place that allows consumers to better manage their subscriptions to the digital services that MNOs can better deliver over 5G.

    This places MNOs front and centre in terms of where consumers see them in the streaming mix and offers carriers the chance to own the space. It also offers a potential $14bn boost to revenues through the increased use of carrier billing to pay for these super-bundled services.

    This is where it gets interesting for telemedia companies as they too will benefit. Not only will there be this projected $14bn DCB market in five short years globally, but it will push carrier billing very much into the mainstream of consumer payments – offering MNOs, aggregators and SPs a chance to cement DCB as a proper payment tool that can be widely used for everything from mainstream streaming services and super-bundling to video tarot and all the things that have always underpinned the value-added services and telemedia markets.

    So, will 5G save humanity and propel MNOs centre stage in the world of digital entertainment and engagement? Who knows for sure, but with Vodafone rolling out the first 5G Ultra network in Europe in the UK this week, those claims are about to be put to the test.

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