Wireless Technologies

Eight market opportunities telecoms operators can seize upon before 5G

By 2020, telecoms operators will be rushing to roll out 5G technology ahead of the competition. But in the meantime, there’s still plenty of untapped market potential in new industry areas for companies willing to embrace them.

There are eight opportunities totalling more than $1 trillion, according to Qiu Heng, President of Wireless Marketing Operations, who was speaking at Huawei’s Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, China, recently.

These opportunities are split into three segments: Basic Service (i.e. ready to be rolled out), Emerging Service (the technology is ready but the market is as yet untested), and Future Service (technology is still in development and market potential untested).

What’s interesting about these opportunities are that they all involve telecoms providers jumping not into new markets, but would require a new focus on services – which itself would represent a mindset change – but also going into competition with a number of other companies looking for ways to increase revenue in a connected world.


Basic Services


In countries where fixed-broadband access is poor or difficult to install, wireless home broadband could offer a $120 billion market over the next few years. Hundreds of millions of homes currently without broadband-quality internet, and Huawei’s partners have already seen success in Eastern European markets, says Heng. Mobile home broadband can also enable smart home services such as AT&T’s Digital Life – but this would put them in direct competition with any number of IoT vendors.


Huawei has long been pushing video as a major revenue stream for telcos. Smart city uses such as surveillance cameras, or within the enterprise for factory monitoring have massive potential for telcos willing to chase specific verticals. Between entertainment, industry, and communication uses, Huawei says video could be a trillion-dollar opportunity in itself in just a couple of years.


Emerging Services

Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA)

Given the increasing hype around Internet of Things, Heng emphasised the importance of Low Power communications standards. Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) technology is designed to enable devices to communicate with each other over larger areas than the likes of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Zigbee can achieve without draining what little power they often have or can generate.

A given example is China Telecom’s partnership with Ofo where the former provides connectivity and  tracking capabilities to latter’s bicycles, or China Unicom’s deal with Transinfo that helps provide the latter with smart parking information based on sensors in the parking lots.

Huawei has been pushing narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) technology as IoT communications standard of choice. When asked about competing standards such as LoRa or Sigfox, Heng replied that when he thinks of them, he thinks of WiMAX, the failed communication technology ousted by LTE and Wi-Fi. 

Connected cars

Connected cars – whether Vehicle-to-Vehicle infrastructure, connectivity, or telematics – could be a $145 billion market opportunity by 2022, according to Heng.

Verizon’s recent acquisitions of Telogis, Fleetmatics and Hughes Telecmatics, alongside it’s HUM vehicle diagnostic and tracking system were given as a recent example of telecoms companies moving into this space. But given that many automakers are also looking to connected car services as a future source of revenue – Ford’s Smart Mobility Unit is a prime example- it will be interesting to see how much appetite the two industries will have to compete with one another.


Mobile health (m-health) could become a $106 Billion market by 2022, says Heng. Health services that record and analyse personal health data – such as NTT docomo and Omron Healthcare’s partnership – could allow telecoms operators to tap into the 69 billion connected medical devices expected to be in service by 2022.


Future services


In the same way connected cars need fleet management and telematics, there could be similar – if smaller opportunities for drones. However, much like cars, there will be strong competition from drone makers offering services as well as independent drone service providers.


Whether it’s indoor mapping for retail customers, augmented reality, or high-precision positioning for autonomous vehicles or robots, Huawei says telecom providers could be well-positions to provide accurate positioning services in the future.

Mobile Edge Service

After Cloud computing comes edge computing – the idea that only the minimum amount of data actually gets send to the Cloud while the majority of computing and functions are performed closer to the event. Amazon and Dell are but two companies working on Edge Computing – both with focus around IoT. But Edge computing for mobile services such as games or video could be a way for telcos to make revenue in the future. But again, would require them going into greater competition with large tech companies.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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