5G and IoT Monetisation Opportunities for South African CSPs

By: Hassen Hamza, Presales & Business Development Manager MEA, Nexign

The Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G monetisation are important considerations for communications service providers (CSP) in South Africa, with so much more still to understand about how operators can use these technologies to unlock their full potential.

According to a report released by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), titled The State of ICT 2019, smartphone penetration in South Africa in 2018 nearly doubled from that of 2016 at 81.72%. While mobile data traffic in South Africa in terabytes has shown strong growth over the period that the ICASA report reviewed, increasing by 55% in 2016, 67% in 2017 and 68% in 2018.

Global research firm Frost & Sullivan further predicts that the ICT industry in South Africa will earn R305 billion in revenue during 2019, with the telecoms sector expected to be the largest contributor with R149.5 billion or 49.6% of this total.

5G will provide faster, lower-latency access to internet connectivity and will also have an effect on the number of devices that can connect to a network. As 5G is rolled out and becomes more available we will see an evolution of IoT devices, services and other offerings.

5G and IoT will also allow for advancements in the development and deployment of Smart Cities, Smart Industries, Smart Utilities, Smart Transportation, Smart Healthcare, and more – with each of these requiring reliable communications networks in order to function.

BSS IoT support

When it comes to digital transformation, CSPs around the world are focusing on IoT and its potential to transform their existing business, and the same can be said for South Africa providers. The biggest challenge the industry faces today with regards to IoT is effective monetisation of use cases. CSPs will either have to extend their current systems or deploy new platforms.

Future-proof business support systems (BSS) should be able to support all types of charging scenarios, pricing models, quality of service (QoS) policies and interconnected relationships. Beyond commercial, architectural and technical challenges, CSPs will look for optimal total cost of ownership (TCO) platforms, suitable for multi-tenant and multi-device environments, provided by vendors that are ready to offer innovative business models suitable for the digital economy era. NIDD (Non-IP-Data-Delivery) case is one of the examples of economical effective approach to serve millions of non-human IoT devices on the existing network with low impact on limited radio spectrum and core network resources.  

Are you ready for 5G?

5G networks, hailed as the next major milestone for mobile communications, have thrown the world into a frenzy, with CSPs trying to maintain the edge in connectivity and exploit the vast opportunities the technology is expected to offer. The impact will go beyond ubiquitous, ultra-fast connectivity. It will also have a profound impact on operators’ monetisation streams.

Consequently, operators will need to transform their BSS in key areas in order to capitalise on the opportunities presented by 5G. BSS providers will need to also make changes to their systems – this will affect real-time domains such as rating, charging and policy control. The changes will focus on complex usage-cases that require integration with a wide range of other systems or complex interactions. These include IoT, collaboration and settlement payments with partners, eSIM subscriptions management.

Another important usage scenario is network slicing support. The telecom operator’s network should be able simultaneously to serve different domains which have different requirements.  In one case, an operator needs to ensure high speed for each subscriber using new services, for example, real-time video with augmented reality (AR) technologies. In the other case, it’s necessary to provide the ability of millions of sensors to work for the benefit of smart cities. And finally, for self-driving vehicles and mission-critical services, reliable communication with minimum latency is vital, especially under conditions of congestion in the network.

For all industry vendors―including infrastructure, applications and BSS—5G adoption will be a serious opportunity to not only keep market share, but to grow it significantly. Only vendors with new generation systems with future-proof architecture and a clear vision, for how to generate revenue growth for CSPs, will be considered in future projects. Vendors will need to provide systems that support African telcos in convergent scenarios and different types of networks, on their journey towards the 5G and IoT monetisation era.