Business model development key to funding 5G network deployments
In a keynote presentation at the Wireless Infrastructure Association’s ongoing HetNet Expo in West Palm Beach, Fla., ExteNet Systems CEO Ross Manire outlined the three key factors that will make or break the success of future 5G networks: new business models, regulatory and jurisdictional environments that support faster, cheaper network deployments, and new network architectures focused on lowering capex and opex.
“You’re going to need a lot more nodes and a lot more densification of the networks to do some of the very interesting things that we see coming,” Manire said. “We use an internal term that we call ‘hyper-densification.’ There’s a lot more to be built. The market opportunity is significant.”
Giving a brief, historical look at the company, he said the original thesis was providing distributed networks in areas where obtaining macro site permits was prohibitive. “Most of the networks focused on coverage solutions.” Then, in 2007, Apple released the iPhone. “Our world changed,” and capacity became and continues to be the focal point. “That really is the state of play as we see it today.”
And, with the 3GPP planning to finalize the 5G New Radio specification next year, and operators and vendors eager to deploy and commercialize, that state of play will continue to evolve.
“5G clearly will be about capacity enhancements, but, more importantly, its going to be about network functionality. tG is not just going to be about the individual phone or tablet user and enhancing their experience. It’s going to be about more intelligence, and it’s going to be a new architecture that we all have to become familiar with and be prepared to work with. The key here, and I think this is the really important point, is that we have to find business models that will take advantage of lower latency and higher system capacity, throughput, energy efficiencies and so forth, that will be able to generate the returns necessary to fund the network investments that are going to be necessary going forward to support 5G.”
Manire continued: “I think we’ve done a better job figuring out ways to lower the cost and also speed deployment,” colocating head-end infrastructure, for instance. “But we still have a long way to go. This is what we call hyper-densification, and that is many more nodes being deployed, more intelligence being pushed out to the edge of networks, more networks being deployed indoors as well, and all of this is going to be coming fairly rapidly…if we can solve several problems. This all looks great on paper but how do we make this a reality?”
In addition to developing new revenue sources, creating a more accommodating regulatory environment and adding density, Wireless Infrastructure Association President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein, in his opening remarks, hit on another potential hindrance on the road to 5G, which he said could create 3 million jobs.
“The only way that gets done is if we have the right people to build that network. There’s a dramatic skills gap.” For its part, the WIA has created the Telecommunications Education Center (TEC), which is a program and online portal that provides training courses geared toward workforce enablement.
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