The 5G Dawn of Digital Transformation

Nov. 1, 2018
Recommendations for Stakeholders — Even with billions of Internet of Things (IoT) connections, the light of digital transformation is still just a flicker. But 5G networks will change that. With […]

Recommendations for Stakeholders —

Even with billions of Internet of Things (IoT) connections, the light of digital transformation is still just a flicker. But 5G networks will change that. With gigabit-plus speeds and no perceivable delay, the transformative power of 5G will fully enable the IoT, connecting a universe of devices and applications — imagined and yet unimagined — to multitudes of users on one platform. At this junction, on-the-cusp technologies like autonomous vehicles and self-healing electric grids will move from whiteboard to dashboard, and people will experience IoT interaction that is real-time, tactile, and immersive.

5G is a complex network of integrated technologies. But, industry stakeholders can kick-start network deployment by taking a few key actions.

Early 5G Synergies With 4G
As of 2018, the industry has a complete cellular standard approved for 5G deployments that will be built alongside 4G networks, as well as in areas without existing telecommunications infrastructure. With this standard, the industry can get busy building the hardware, chipsets, and antennas, that will make 5G work. With no simple switch to turn on 5G, carriers will deploy 5G by leveraging 4G networks’ extensive coverage, available spectrum, and existing infrastructure. This network synergy will also benefit 4G subscribers, who may experience better service with added 5G technologies like massive MIMO, more fiber, dense small cell networks, and edge computing.

This is great news for industries that are currently modernizing their 4G networks to support advanced technologies, like electric grids and first responder communications. In these cases, it is reasonable for industries to operate their 4G system at least until they reach their return-on-investment.

However, it is important to consider 5G when making 4G modifications to protect investments and ensure an efficient transition to 5G. With flexibility as a foundation, the best network design is one that can support desired uses, new uses, and the convergence of applications over time.

Investment Payoff
As 5G deployment begins this year, conversations turn to how advanced telecommunication capabilities could change day-to-day life. Jumping ahead a few years, people may see driverless ride-hailing businesses replace expensive car ownership in cities, which means fewer cars on the road and decreased traffic. Public safety leaders could use a 5G communications platform to integrate databases and connect first responders and medical workers for faster, more informed incident response. And businesses and residents may notice fewer electricity outages because utilities use sensors and advanced remote monitoring to establish distribution automation for faster response to power flow issues.

But, 5G will provide more than just advanced community functions. 5G could deliver $500 billion in US annual gross domestic product and 3 million jobs.1 Closer to home, this could mean that states like California could gain over $68 billion in gross state product and over 51,000 jobs through 5G deployment; New York could score over $33 billion and 23,000 jobs.2 And this does not count the gains through operational efficiencies and new services.

Food for Thought from Our 2022 ICT Visionaries

Using the 4G rollout as an indicator, carriers that deploy 5G first will secure a higher market share and higher revenue per user and increase their net present value by 5%-15%.3 In addition to an early market entrance, carriers should consider how to deploy a high number of use cases cost efficiently, which will expand their playing field. In the same way, businesses, cities, and industries, could capture big benefits if they adapt their networks, business models, and technologies, to work in synch with 5G. Ericsson expects industry digitalization, which depends on 5G, to generate $1.3 trillion in revenue, with energy and utilities industry capturing 19%, public safety 13%, and transport 10% of the revenue.

Beyond enabling new capabilities, technology leaps often evolve the functions of industry leaders, and 5G is no exception. Carriers that deploy 5G have an opportunity to expand their roles across industry value chains, generating notable gains. With a centralized leadership position, carriers could see 36% revenue growth globally by 2026 by operating as network providers, service enablers, and innovative service providers.4

Partnership Will Propel 5G5G is a complex network of technologies, and true partnership between carriers, technology integrators, states, cities, and industries, is required to integrate deployment. For example, small cells and fiber require extensive work involving rights-of-way, poles, and neighborhoods. From this perspective, state and local infrastructure permitting policies are a 5G turnstile.

Many states are evaluating their policies to encourage 5G deployment of technologies, and these states will be the first to see substantial economic and consumer benefits.5

The truth is, kick-starting 5G can begin with one or two well-planned strategic actions. It’s important to start now, however, because these multi-faceted, capital-intensive system and infrastructure evolutions require careful coordination and have long lead times for engineering, permitting, and construction.

To start their integrated 5G planning process, all stakeholders should:
• Get ready for data analytics. Increase server space and put data to work.
• Imagine your future state. Identify the 5G capabilities needed to get there.
• Rethink policies and procedures. Outline protocol for use of new technologies and capabilities.
• Staff up. Hire personnel to support new systems and capabilities, like data management.

In addition, individual stakeholders will move their needle best by taking these specific actions:

• Invest in fiber backhaul assets and use connected smart city elements to launch 5G networks.
• Plan for an interoperable converged network that is engineered to anticipate future needs, and deployed with minimal disruption to citizens.

• Streamline city policies to support deployment of 5G technologies like fiber and small cells.
• Encourage carriers to invest in 5G infrastructure statewide and locally by supporting new deployment models.

• Assess latency, bandwidth, coverage, and security of desired technologies, to guide distribution automation design.
• Implement IP, specifically for a large-scale network, to support 4G and 5G modernization.

• Advance interoperability among agencies, and upgrade networks to handle the data associated with 5G.
• Streamline procurement and construction processes to prep for numerous purchases and site builds.

The telecommunications industry is primed for 5G evolution, which will create exciting new avenues for digitization. At the recent ISE EXPO 2018 (https://iseexpo.com), carriers asked stakeholders, especially technology integrators like Black & Veatch, to provide willing collaboration to help achieve this complex, grand-scale telecommunications deployment. Through technology partnerships, stakeholders will create a true gigabit society, and impart enormous economic benefit to the US

1. Accenture 2017. How 5G Can Help Municipalities Become Vibrant Smart Cities.

2. The Lost Economy and The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research. 2017. The Economic and Consumer Benefits of 5G if State and Local Governments Streamline Costly Red Tape.

3. Ericsson. 2017. The 5G Business Potential. Second Edition.

4. Ericsson. 2017. The 5G Business Potential. Second Edition.

5. The Lost Economy and The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research. 2017. The Economic and Consumer Benefits of 5G if State and Local Governments Streamline Costly Red Tape.

About the Author

Erica Zamensky

Erica Zamensky is Senior Content Strategist, Telecommunications, Black & Veatch. She has more than 20 years of experience in content development for science, engineering, smart technologies and marketing topics. For more information, please email [email protected] or visit https://www.bv.com/. Follow Black & Veatch on Twitter: @Black_Veatch and @BVSII. For more insight around Digital Infrastructure innovation, visit http://www.bv.com/5G and download the eBook 5G: A New Digital Dawn.