The hype of 5G has been around for a few years now. Given the amount of investment that carriers have made into uplifting their networks to 5G, the first phase of the hype has been successful. But we’re now deep enough into the global 5G network rollout that we have to start judging whether the second phase of the hype has been successful. That is, whether there’s going to be a valuable return on the initial investment in 5G.

The first phase has surely been successful, and profitable, for 5G product vendors and their installers. But it’s the success of the second phase, when the carriers start to see returns on their investment, that will impact the telco industry and its suppliers for years to come. If the returns aren’t forthcoming, it’s likely to constrain global capital investments by the telco industry well into the future.


So, let’s look at the second phase of hype, why it excited telcos into their massive investments in 5G infrastructure and what positive indicators the carriers are expecting to see.


What does 5g mean for OSS and BSS

Some of the hype has made 5G out to be the saviour of the telco industry. The silver bullet that will finally raise carriers above being mere connectivity providers to the consumer market, a role that is commoditising and seeing diminishing profitability.

As David Flower wrote in this Forbes article, 5G represents, “a chance [for telcos] to evolve from being just connectivity providers to solution creators and enablers — by reinventing themselves and partnering with other technology and service enterprises. It’s an opportunity that’s poised to grow into a $249.2 billion market.”


This “solution creation / enabling” capability of 5G promises to provide the platform from which telcos can offer many new-age, premium-priced, services ranging from wearables to autonomous cars to 3D imaging to advanced healthcare to emergency services and so much more. These services span almost all other industry verticals.


Unfortunately, almost all of these proposed 5G-enabled services require products, services and expertise that are not traditionally held within the typical telco. Unless the typical telco intends to rapidly develop these capabilities, then they have no other choice than to partner with experts in the respective fields. If telcos are to play a bigger role in this service uplift and not just be providers of faster, lower latency connectivity via 5G, then managing a partner ecosystem becomes paramount.


Telcos have demonstrated an ability to work with partners to deliver value-added services in the past. However, to truly monetise their 5G investments, they’ll have to turn their partnership management from a “capability” into a “superpower.”

Luckily, they already have the types of tools that can facilitate partner management, their all-powerful OSS/BSS stacks. It remains to be seen however, whether their current partner management and customer relationship management tools are flexible enough and powerful enough to truly turbo-charge flourishing partner ecosystems.


As there has been investment in the network, it’s likely that there will need to be a corresponding uplift in OSS/BSS solutions to facilitate success in the second phase of 5G hype. Mirroring the 5G networks, it’s likely that the corresponding OSS/BSS solutions will need to become smarter, faster and more flexible too.

But it will clearly not just take a technology transformation to transition from partnership-capable to partnerships-as-a-Superpower. This will also requires a people, process and cultural change. The Not Invented Here (NIH) syndrome, which some carriers are prone to suffer from, has to be overcome to achieve success for carriers and the industry as a whole.


5g in telco industry and OSS / BSS

OSS and BSS can be a little inwards-facing at times. But for 5G to deliver on its promise for the telco industry, it needs to look outwards – outwards to customers (and their needs), but also to potential partners and how the partnerships can collectively deliver to customer needs.

You could even argue that entirely new thinking is required in supplier / partner / procurement models. Traditional procurement models that favoured duopolies (two to three primary network and systems suppliers) is too narrow-focussed to facilitate the partner / supplier ecosystem required to deliver on the promise of 5G.

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