Looking for a quick and easy solution to lagging 5G monetization? Here’s a hint: it’s not just about the G. Initially hailed as a global savior, and more recently labeled a disappointment, the reality of 5G exists somewhere in between these extremes. The truth is, these oversimplified perspectives tend to overshadow the true value and effort required, while keeping the focus on the wrong problems.

Building on lessons from 4G

Previous generations were primarily driven by clear, consumer-oriented benefits. To put it simply, 3G brought usable data to our phones, while 4G gave us true broadband speeds. Both saw considerable demand, with 4G unlocking a surge of innovative applications on smart phones, further boosting demand.

The arrival of 5G, promising even greater network speed and capabilities, was expected to follow the same trajectory. However, this failed to consider that despite 5G’s impressive potential, a more comprehensive ecosystem is required to fully exploit these capabilities. Otherwise, it isn’t clearly differentiated from 4G.

One vital lesson from the 4G era is that Service Providers (SPs) can easily be sidelined in the value equation. SPs, despite their significant investments, often found themselves on the outskirts of the most profitable aspects of the value chain, with most of that going to the application providers and device ecosystem. This was a result of multiple factors, not the least of which is that the complexity of traditional mobile networks makes it difficult to integrate with them and build on top, so they were built around instead. Additionally, the market was looking for global scale and less friction in business interactions which is difficult with traditional mobile architectures.

This 5G era offers a chance for SPs to get back in at higher value, and we are focused on enabling this as you’ll see below.

A new approach for 5G

The excessive hype and fixation on 5G as a panacea for all connectivity has created unnecessary confusion. This led to misunderstandings about 5G vs. Wi-Fi and even 5G vs 4G. The industry is gradually moving past this, with Enterprise IT and OT buyers making it clear that they want more focus on achieving their business outcomes supported by a heterogeneous network that allows them to choose the best connectivity solution for a given use case and environment.

Enterprise customers do view 5G as an important tool for connectivity, but it must coexist with Wi-Fi, 4G, Ethernet, and more. Each has its place, and the breakthrough that is needed is for an all-encompassing, access-agnostic approach empowering the mobile-first enterprise.

Separating 5G fact from fiction

We have all heard variations of the following statements about the promise of 5G:

  • Once we allocate spectrum, 5G will skyrocket!
  • 5G radios will outperform 4G, driving demand!
  • Superior 5G smartphones will increase demand!
  • 5G NSA is the easy transition to 5G we need!
  • 5G SA, with its superior capabilities and efficiency, will drive demand!

While these are all necessary, they are not sufficient for true success.

So, how do we get there?

To fully address this, we must begin with the end customer in mind. Enterprises clearly see digital transformation as their goal, not adopting a specific technology. They need simple, unified solutions that provide seamless secure connectivity, and support value-added services for people, places, and things. This becomes even more crucial in the contemporary AI-driven landscape, which requires more data from an increasing number of devices and facilitates the development of countless applications.

Achieving this requires a broader ecosystem facilitated by a true platform-based approach that modernizes mobile service definition, integration, and delivery. This will enable rapid service development with flexible business models, democratizing IoT and connectivity while allowing all stakeholders to deliver value. It’s essential to remember that while we love to talk about “the technology,” it is only useful in service of business outcomes. Paramount among these is reducing business friction, and allowing global scale – build once, distribute everywhere, and monetize easily.

We’ve developed the Cisco Mobility Services Platform to increase the value of mobile services by making them more accessible and programmable, reducing the complexity of delivering new services while increasing speed and flexibility. Importantly for SPs – this presents an opportunity to move up the value chain from where they were largely relegated in the 4G era. This is the time to fully embrace and enable the mobile-first enterprise in a holistic and unified manner.

But don’t just take my word for it. Join us at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2024,to see our Mobility Services Platform in action, along with demonstrations of how we’re uniting the ecosystem to simplify the process for all key stakeholders.

Specifically, you’ll see our developer ecosystem and how we’re enabling application developers by making it simple to build on top of mobile networks. You’ll also see how we’ve embraced an open approach to radios and devices.

We will have a live 5G system simulating a connected warehouse with our Mobility Services Platform enabling radios, devices, and applications from our ecosystem partners including Nokia and Zebra, along with Cisco Industrial IoT and Meraki devices. Elsewhere in the Fira, you will see our partners illustrating the power of the platform and ecosystem with some exciting use cases.

  • Intel – Cisco Private 5G using a Neutral Wireless radio, focusing on AI and manufacturing use cases
  • NTT DATA – Cisco Private 5G and AI driven vision
  • Deloitte – Cisco Private 5G using an Airspan radio, focusing on an AGV use case
  • Orange – Sport All IP
  • HCLTech – Cisco Private 5G with collaboration and expert on demand, industry vertical-specific use cases development based on AR/VR and AI based smart video analytics solutions

Engage with us at MWC

Most importantly, we want to hear from you. We believe we’ve built something unique and would love to showcase our work, as well as listen to your ideas. There’s room in this ecosystem for everyone – MNOs, Enterprises, applications, devices, radios, integrators, and more.


Read our Mobility Services Platform Solutions Overview
and discover how we’re enabling the full potential of 5G

Catch our recent webinar: Unlock New 5G and IoT Revenue
Streams with Cisco Mobility Services


Bob Everson

Sr. Director, Mobile Architecture and Ecosystem

Cisco Networking: Provider Mobility