Networking giant Ericsson has published new research predicting that 5G could enable a 48 percent incremental revenue opportunity for Australian mobile operators by 2026, with up to $13.5 billion worth of digitalisation potential to tap into.
Speaking during an Ericsson 5G event in Sydney on Thursday afternoon, Ericsson MD for Australia and New Zealand Emilio Romeo said there are three potential roles for operators: As pure network providers; as service enablers; and as service creators, with telcos that offer all three of these to tap into the full $13.5 billion up for grabs.
Romeo said that the operator-addressable 5G digitalisation revenues are across automotive, retail, manufacturing, financial services, public transport, agriculture, media and entertainment, healthcare, energy and utilities, and public safety.
Globally, there will be $619 billion in operator-addressable 5G digitalisation revenues across these 10 sectors, he said.
According to Ericsson, Asia-Pacific will be "one of the early movers in 5G by 2022", with 10 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the region to be from 5G by that date.
"5G is use-case driven and will be propelled by three areas: Massive machine-type communications, critical machine-type communications, and enhanced mobile broadband," Ericsson APAC CTO Magnus Ewerbring added on Thursday.
"On our product side, we're preparing our products step by step ... hardware that we're shipping now is 5G prepared so that operators can step by step build their assets so that when we're ready to load the software they can go live with 5G."
Industry needs to capitalise on the "tremendous opportunity in IoT", Ewerbring said, pointing towards use cases such as mining -- which he called a "gold mine", involving smart ventilation, smart rock bolts, fleet and inventory management, preventive maintenance, and remote control and operations -- and remote surgery, into which he said "very serious research" is being undertaken.
Ericsson also used the event to demo and discuss beam forming, fixed-wireless access, mixed-reality mining, dynamic orchestration, federated network slicing, the connected factory, narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) services, and connected transport.
Automotive is also a fast-growing field for the new network technology, Romeo said, with around $5.6 trillion predicted in global cost savings to society from using autonomous vehicles, and $1.8 billion in Australia.
Romeo, who is also director of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) which earlier this week published a report on 5G from Deloitte, told ZDNet that industry is now seeing good signs from the federal government, which last week announced its 5G strategy, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which has accelerated the process for making 5G spectrum available.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield "really engaged" with AMTA's report launch this week, Romeo added.
However, Ewerbring told ZDNet that it is really up to the ACMA's decisions on when it will put 5G spectrum up for auction as to whether network partner Telstra will be ready to go live with a 5G network in 2019; operators may have the ability to deploy early, but not the right, he explained.
Ewerbring said Ericsson will be kicking off "more elaborate field trials" in China in January next year, following research in partnership with Intel to complete the first ever 5G multi-vendor end-to-end interoperability development test across the 3.5GHz spectrum band in China last month.
Ericsson's 5G 3.5GHz radio testbed prototype -- which makes use of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), and beam forming -- and Intel's 5G mobile trial platform were used for the trials.
"We recognise the importance and innovation of the Chinese market, and by working closely with ecosystem partners such as Intel, we are helping to pave the way for a successful rollout of 5G in the future," Ericsson's head of Market Area North East Asia Chris Houghton said at the time.
Trials of 5G with operators across the globe have seen Ericsson attain data transfer speeds of 3.6Gbps on connected cars with SK Telecom and BMW; download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia with Telstra; use its 28GHz radios, virtualised RAN (vRAN), and full 5G virtualised core for trials with AT&T; and attain speeds of over 6Gbps during trials with Verizon during the Indianapolis 500 motor race in addition to working with Verizon on 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the US.
Earlier this month, Ericsson also opened a 5G design site in Texas, which it said will be used to develop and test core microelectronics for radio base stations, as well as collaborating with nearby silicon-fabrication plants in Austin on designing solutions ahead of 5G commercialisation.
Ericsson earlier this year additionally collaborated with IBM Research to develop a "research breakthrough" in 5G network technology, saying a new silicon-based millimetre-wave (mmWave) phased array integrated circuit could accelerate 5G uptake.
Ericsson similarly added a frequency-division duplex (FDD) radio with support for 5G and Massive MIMO to its 5G platform in September, saying it will provide a "bridge" between 4G and 5G by boosting capacity with current mobile spectrum.
The AIR 3246 radio supports both 4G LTE and 5G New Radio (NR) technologies, and will speed up 5G launches for operators, Ericsson said, as well as allow them to boost 4G capacity in metropolitan networks.
As a result, it now has "the most complete 5G portfolio in the industry", Ericsson said.
Ericsson's AIR 3246 radio will be available commercially in the second quarter of 2018 and will join its three previously launched time-division duplex (TDD) LTE radios that support 5G and Massive MIMO, with its 5G platform also providing core, transport, digital support, and security.
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