More than 40 telecom operators around the world have already launched commercial 5G services and many are in the starting blocks to go live with their 5G deployments by the end of 2019. Next year will also witness several launches in Europe and other parts of the world. With the growing popularity of 5G, telcos need to craft carefully their 5G go-to-market strategies in order to monetize the technology, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
GlobalData’s report, ‘5G Commercial Use Cases Update & Telco Go-To-Market Strategies’, reveals how telcos are positioning their commercial 5G market propositions in terms of pricing, bundling, value added services and device strategies.
Houda Bostanji, EMEA Telecom Research Director at GlobalData, commented: “5G launches have developed relatively quickly with commercial launches starting in late 2018, and building up momentum since April 2019 with a focus on two main use cases – 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and 5G Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).”
The US and South Korea were the first to commercially launch 5G in 2018, followed by Optus Australia in January 2019, Swiss operators Sunrise and Swisscom, Elisa Finland and Ooredoo Qatar in April 2019. Then, from May to July 2019, a number of other telcos, mainly from the Gulf and Europe, joined the 5G wave. These include EE/BT, Vodafone, Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Zain and T-Mobile.
With the increasing number of commercial 5G rollouts, the main question remains – how can operators monetize the service? Here, we are seeing a number of moves from telcos to uplift ARPUs. Some telcos have made 5G available on dedicated 5G plans, tying the service with data-centric allowances yielding higher ARPUs. EE UK, for instance, offers 5G with five data package allowances – 10GB, 30GB, 60GB, 120GB and Unlimited. Several telcos, such as Swisscom Switzerland and Viva Bahrain are applying a premium 5G activation fee on a number of existing plans. Selected telcos are further monetizing their 5G unlimited plans through speed-based price tiers (e.g. Vodafone).
Bostanji continues: “Telcos are leveraging 5G to upsell faster speeds and larger data allowances. Monetization models range from applying 5G premiums to offering speed-based pricing tiers on unlimited data plans. Additionally, telcos can leverage a More4More approach by bundling 5G plans with access to cloud gaming, video and AR/VR content. For now, except for a few telcos, such as Etisalat UAE, that have made 5G available on all their plan tiers at no extra fee, 5G remains a mid- to high-end customer play. Further down the line, we could see additional monetization models based on latency differentiation.”