Since the launch of the first 5G network in South Korea in 2019, over 160 5G live networks have been established globally, serving more than 560 million active subscribers. In addition, 5G technologies are now widely used in some countries’ consumer markets. For example, the penetration rate of 5G users in both China and South Korea exceeds 30%, with traffic volume per user increasing by over 50%.
During past two years, carriers have begun to explore new innovations made possible by 5G technology. South Korean carriers have launched over 2,500 5G-powered augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications, improving average revenue per user by 37%.
Meanwhile, Chinese carriers have acquired more than 200 million consumers thanks to the innovative experiences provided by digital services such as video ring-back tones (VRBT) and New Messaging. In 2020, the VRBT service generated more than $400 million additional revenue for carriers. Recently, Chinese carriers officially implemented VRBT interworking, positioning VRBT as a future large-scale communications market.
At the same time, carriers continue exploring 5G in B2B markets, particularly in China. Chinese carriers have implemented over 6,000 innovative projects with more than 20 industries including manufacturing, ports, and mining.
In China's Shanxi province, 5G has enabled a local coal mining enterprise to implement modern safety surveillance, with remote control and robotic inspections now possible more than 500 meters underground. It significantly improves production efficiency and has halved the underground workload.
There are three typical approaches used by carriers to seize B2B opportunities:
- Cloud + Network + X – in addition to 5G networks, an operator-owned cloud is built to attract ecosystem partners, whose capabilities can be combined to build a B2B vertical integration solution.
- Network as a Service (NaaS) involves cooperating strategically with hyperscalers, developing B2B services by leveraging the cloud providers’ ecosystems and independent software vendors’ (ISVs’)resources.
- Integrated services means providing a one-stop solutions for enterprises by offering different verticals tailored, integrated solutions and embracing cloud providers.
To scale up 5G applications' shift from pilot programs to commercial deployments, their IT must leverage all-new digital technologies and collaborate with partners to explore innovative ICT services to meet both present and future industry demands.
Carriers face challenges in business and operations
We have discovered that a number of common challenges in digital services and business operations:
- Lack of differentiated services – there are few 5G-specific services and they typically offer experience similar to that of 4G. New innovative services – such as voice/video over New Radio (VoNR) or New Messaging – are progressing slowly due to low 5G penetration and a lack of 5G devices from iOS and Android. Consequently, the dominant business models are still based primarily around data consumption.
- The need for a lightweight business operation platform – 51% of enterprise owners expect suppliers to provide integrated vertical industry solutions which include 5G connectivity, operational platforms, and CPE devices and applications. In Europe, for example, Mobile Private Network (MPN) requests a 5G B2B operation support system (OSS) with pre-integration, quick deployment, and fast provisioning.
- Preferred phased or functional optimization – each year, carriers seek a revolutionary business operation system that can achieve fast time to market with greater agility and intelligence. Legacy systems are siloes, designed for different lines of business, such as B2C, B2B, and B2H, or mobile and fixed. They require a substantial number of expert staff to maintain and operate them. As an operation transformation project usually takes 12 to 18 months to complete, some carriers have opted for phased or functional optimization instead of system transformation.
Upgrading platforms, ecosystems, and operations
In the 5G B2B market, Huawei has won more than 1,000 commercial contracts in 20 vertical industries in the past two years. By exploring and analyzing the global carrier and enterprise market, Huawei has followed a strategy of Platforms + Ecosystems + Operations in the business software domain since 2018. To adequately prepare for 5G/B2B business scenarios, we help carriers enhance telecom strength and collaborate with partners through three types of upgrade:
- Achieving business agility through platform upgrade – we are pleased to announce that all of Huawei's business software products, including business support systems (BSS) and convergent billing systems (CBS), have been fully cloudified. They can be deployed on public or private or hybrid cloud, or on-premise, to enable IT convergence, fast rollout, and business agility. Our Cloud Native digital platform is compatible with TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA), which can be easily integrated with peripheral systems. It also provides standard Open APIs which encapsulate operational capabilities for enterprise customers and partners in various industries.
- Fostering innovative services through ecosystem upgrade – Huawei's innovative digital services, including VRBT, 5G messaging, and AI Contact Center (AICC), are available for ecosystem partners and provide open-source mainstream development tools and a low-code environment. In China, New Messaging partners in the banking industry can complete standalone application development within a single week. We are eager to collaborate with upstream and downstream vendors, ISVs, and partners to create win-win scenarios in the B2B market.
- Seizing new revenue through operation upgrade – carriers can take advantage of a variety of prospects in the coming 5G era through their millions of native subscribers and installed bases. While all-new innovative digital services such as VRBT and New Messaging products have become popular as basic services in certain countries, Huawei has developed best practices for global operations. New services, valued partners, and operations practices can be successfully introduced through the combined efforts of carriers and Huawei to quickly and efficiently seize new markets.
Huawei serves 3 billion subscribers worldwide and commits to helping operators unleash greater business value in the 5G era. Huawei has also built SaaS platforms in Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific region to meet the needs of small- and medium-sized operators as well as MNVOs.
Through a strategy of Platforms + Ecosystems + Operations, Huawei provides leading global capabilities to enhance telecom strength, enable collaboration between carriers and their B2B partners, and foster additional new industrial applications, paving the way for B2B commercial success.