With the caveat that industry professionals can be quite wrong about the future, there is a fairly substantial consensus on the value of 5G for end users. Industry professionals expect “speed” to be the top driver of value for consumer end users, but latency performance is the anticipated value driver for enterprise use cases.
When asked to name the 5G use case with the strongest consumer appeal, over half (51 percent) of the respondents to a Telecoms.com survey chose “high speed mobile connectivity/fast internet access”. “5G-based fixed wireless access” was deemed to be the most-appealing consumer service, selected by 18 percent of respondents. So consumer value is really about fast internet access, with perhaps some nuances.
When asked to select which technology will have the strongest appeal to business customers, 47 percent of survey respondents picked ultra-reliable low latency communications.
Some 25 percent of the respondents believed massive machine type communications such as industrial internet of things. Also, 24 percent chose faster broadband.
The value to mobile service providers might lie elsewhere. As was true for 4G, the strategic value of 5G might mostly be its ability to lower cost per bit, since service providers basically have to keep supplying more bandwidth at roughly equivalent prices.
As a platform, 5G might prove most useful for enterprise and business services requiring either ultra-low latency or ultra-reliable performance. The ability of mobile operators to move into additional roles might determine how much incremental new revenue is generated by such use cases.
In the consumer market, revenue upside might come from the way 5G is packaged. In the U.S. market, 5G requires purchase of unlimited usage plans, often priced higher than fixed usage plans, for example.