The Power & Promise Of 5G

A recent competitive assessment by tech market advisory firm ABI Research compares and ranks 20 mobile network operators and their enterprise 5G offerings based on an extensive set of criteria to assess both innovation and implementation capabilities. While Deutsche Telekom, China Unicom, Orange, China Mobile, and Vodafone are clear leaders in this space, the full scope of the assessment consists of the following operators from different geographical regions:

Market Leaders: Deutsche Telekom, China Unicom, Orange, China Mobile, Vodafone
Mainstream: Verizon, Telefonica, Telia, AT&T, Singtel, BT
Followers: KT, KDDI, LGU+, NTT-Docomo, STC, Etisalat, Bharti Airtel, Telstra, Softbank

Deutsche Telekom came out as the overall leader because it offers the most diversified product portfolio, supporting four different deployment models to cater to very heterogeneous enterprise requirements and provide flexible pricing models. Close runners-up are China Mobile, Orange, and Vodafone. China Mobile is recognized particularly for its involvement in a number of network slicing trials and its contribution to enterprise-specific standardization work. Orange is particularly notable for its several ecosystem partnerships with a range of different players. Vodafone scored particularly high as it works toward developing a complete digitization platform in attractive business models, which are particularly easy to deploy.

“Our assessment clearly identifies key aspects that network operators should consider to realize their enterprise 5G ambitions,” says Leo Gergs, Senior Analyst for Telco Enterprise Strategies and Private Networks at ABI Research. “At the heart of this, carriers need to understand that enterprises do not see value in deploying 5G connectivity as such, but in the applications it will enable. Therefore, network operators need to integrate cellular connectivity into a much wider technology platform, including Artificial Intelligence and data storage and device management capabilities. To be able to offer this in an attractive pricing structure, it is imperative that network operators depart from a connectivity-focused business model and fully embrace either a Network-as-a-Service or Platform-as-a-Service model.”

To assess operators’ innovation and implementation capabilities, a total of 12 criteria were used, including the customizability of the offering, and the number of supported deployment models. Scalability and modularity evaluated whether and how 5G connectivity is included in a comprehensive end-to-end digitization platform. To assess the flexibility of business models, the number of monetizable services was considered, while the total of joint-innovation labs determined ecosystem influence. To assess standardization and technology contributions, the competitive ranking evaluated the number of network slicing trials per operator and contributions to 3GPPs Working Group SA6 (responsible for mission-critical applications).

To benchmark implementation capabilities, the ranking considers each operator’s regional reach, the targeted enterprise verticals, ease of implementation, number of ecosystem partnerships, early 5G enterprise deployments and the existence of enterprise LTE offerings.

“This assessment serves as a critical call to action to mobile network operators around the globe. For the operators considered in this assessment, it highlights critical aspects that need to be refined in their enterprise strategy. For remaining operators, it should act as a wake-up call to get their enterprise offerings in place sooner rather than later,” says Gergs. “Enterprises are still waiting for the 5G enabled capabilities that were promised to them more than 2 years ago. This disappointment makes them consider non-cellular technology alternatives. Carriers must therefore understand that the window of opportunity is closing for CSPs to gain traction in the enterprise 5G world,” Gergs concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Mobile Network Operators’ Enterprise 5G Offerings competitive ranking report. This research is part of the company’s 5G Markets research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Competitive Ranking reports offer comprehensive analysis of implementation and innovation strategies, to offer unparalleled insight into a company’s performance and standing in comparison to its competitors.