miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2018

5G and net neutrality

Without any doubt, 5G was the star of the recently held Mobile World Congress (MWC). Since several years ago, the MWC has mutated from an event exclusively focused on mobile technology to a conference on the latest advances on digital technologies. However, this year the MWC has shown its true colours and a pure mobile topic (5G) has been the darling both of the people who have attend the congress and the journalists who have reported what have happened there.

5G was on the origin of one of the more tense debates of the congress, the session about net neutrality. One of the more innovative features of 5G is the so-called "network slicing",  a technique for network virtualisation that allows to define several networks on top of a shared infrastructure. Therefore, "Network slicing" allows to provide services with different speed and latency on the same physical network, what can be read as a violation of net neutrality principle.

As "Network Slicing" is one of the hopes of network operators to obtain new revenues in the 5g environment, they are pushing for a lenient interpretation of the rules. The critical importance of these new revenues is easy to be grasped in the framework of the cost estimations for 5G deployment. It is estimated that network-related capital expenditures would have to increase 60 percent from 2020 through 2025, roughly doubling total cost of ownership (TCO) during that period.  Furthermore, In Europe along network operators need to cough up around €56.6 billion to pay for 5G networks covering the entire EU.

So, at it was expected, the economics are at the center of the debate of 5G deployment. Before announcing the use cases for the enhanced broadband, the mission critical applications and the support for IoT which is foreseen in 5G services, the operators would like to know which levers will have at their dispose to monetise the services. And new interpretation of net neutrality looks as the main lever.

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