Stay Connected with the Expanding 5G Landscape in 2024
2024-04-16 0

In 2024, the expansion of 5G networks is set to revolutionize connectivity in unprecedented ways. Take, for instance, a scenario where a fitness tracker embarks on a journey from the Port of Shanghai to a U.S. warehouse, facilitated by a narrowband 5G sensor. Throughout its voyage, this tracker remains seamlessly connected, allowing you, as the end user, to monitor vital health metrics such as heart rate, step count, and sleep cycle via its dedicated 5G connection.

Such applications of narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) are poised to drive the majority of 5G growth this year. Technologies ranging from GPS trackers to smart utility meters, agricultural sensors, and remote health monitors stand to benefit from the expanded deployment of 5G networks, which already covered 32.5% of the global population in 2022, a notable increase from the previous year's 25.3%, as reported by GSMA's "State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report."

Looking ahead to the end of 2024, we anticipate not only modest yet significant advancements in 5G technology but also a pivotal shift in the strategies of mobile network operators (MNOs) regarding monetization.

Increased Revenue Streams from NB-IoT Connections

The proliferation of low-power, low-data sensors in both consumer and enterprise sectors is driving a surge in NB-IoT device connections to 5G networks. While this expansion enriches the 5G ecosystem, it presents challenges for MNOs, as these devices, despite consuming network resources, yield minimal revenue.

Typically transmitting small data packets such as location updates and temperature readings, NB-IoT devices contribute only insignificantly to monetization, especially when aggregated. The current return on investment for MNOs in 5G infrastructure remains modest, with substantial gains expected only when large-scale applications like autonomous vehicles and drone deliveries become mainstream in the future.

To address this imbalance, carriers must reevaluate their business models. Moving away from traditional data usage-based billing, they may opt to charge customers based on the volume of connections their devices establish. This shift will enable MNOs to capitalize on the increased signaling and network traffic generated by the influx of NB-IoT devices.

Achieving this transition requires enhanced visibility into network access. Leveraging advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), MNOs can effectively manage the multitude of IoT connections, categorizing devices based on attributes like frequency, data usage, and service quality. By employing AI models to analyze network traffic data, carriers can refine their pricing strategies and extract greater value from IoT connections.

Focusing on Urban Areas and Big Data

In addition to the evolution of NB-IoT monetization, several other key developments are anticipated in the 5G landscape of 2024:

  1. Prioritized deployment of 5G in high-density urban areas, leveraging millimeter wave and C-band spectrum to enhance performance and expand coverage in metropolitan areas.

  2. Increased demand for 5G ultra-wideband to support the development and testing of autonomous vehicles, driving the need for reliable connectivity, low latency, and high-speed data transmission.

  3. Incremental progress in establishing true standalone 5G networks, albeit at a gradual pace due to ongoing investment considerations and the evolving nature of proven use cases.

Looking Forward

As 5G continues its steady growth, it's essential to recognize that the transformation is a journey rather than an overnight revolution. Despite the slower pace compared to previous generations, incremental progress signifies the industry's commitment to realizing the long-term vision of 5G. While challenges persist, the groundwork laid in 2024 will pave the way for a comprehensive 5G ecosystem in the years to come.

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