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The Top 3 5G Monetization Strategies Every Communications Service Provider Needs

Your standalone network (probably) isn’t enough to bring a return on your infrastructure investment. These are the 5G monetization approaches you need to build and grow your company.

Using a mobile phone at a concert is an example of 5G monetization strategies at work
[@ROBERT KOHLHUBER/Stocksy United]

If you didn’t read our last post on 5G monetization, here’s a quick refresher: 5G monetization strategies refer to the business tactics that communications service providers (CSPs) need to put in place to see a return on their infrastructure investment.  

Companies can do this in many ways. Some may choose to combine their 5G networks with technologies like drones and the internet of things (IoT) to create new services offerings. Others are thinking beyond core connectivity to extend their 5G networks into new industries

Here, we’ll dig a bit deeper into three of the most promising 5G monetization approaches. 

Expand into the B2B marketplace with Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)

The biggest opportunity for 5G monetization lies in the business-to-business (B2B) space. CSPs use Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and 5G networks to offer new subscription services to their business customers with flexibility and precision we’ve never seen before. Consider that enterprises and utilities can create new apps, which monitor networked devices and grids down to the millisecond to help them understand demand and balance supply. Or that healthcare organizations can dramatically improve patient monitoring of indicators like blood sugar levels or blood pressure, thus improving health outcomes.

NaaS is a popular approach in the B2B marketplace. Enterprises are essentially able to use network services on-demand based on their needs. To do this at scale across industries, CSPs need to create a flexible network as a platform. A business support service (BSS) system, like Salesforce Communications Cloud, sets the groundwork. CSPs can use the platform to build, launch, and change offerings quickly. When a company wants to purchase a service, they can access a self-service portal to quickly configure, price, and quote that service. Order orchestration in the platform fulfills the order — all without CSPs reinventing the wheel for every industry.

Invest in a robust partner ecosystem to optimize the network

5G monetization strategies require a little thinking outside of the box. As CSPs explore new industry use cases for their 5G networks, they need to work with partners to create value-added services. 

Value-added services blur the lines between what a CSP can offer on its own – within the network — and what can optimize the network through a partner. Consider that Bell Canada uses 5G in partnership with sports networks TSN and RDS to give fans control of the viewing angle and zoom through their app while watching a game. The experience for fans is more immersive and memorable for anyone watching from anywhere.

A sports fan holds up their cell phone at a live game
5G monetization strategies include fan interaction experiences at games, concerts, and more

Partners flux as new needs arise across industries, so CSPs need to create trusted partner ecosystems. A recent Omdia survey found that one-third of operators will implement a partner ecosystem management strategy to expand into new industry verticals. CSPs can work with a partner to create rates and charging models for various value-added services in different industries.    

To enable this model, a diligent application programming interface (API) strategy and a strong governance framework are essential. CSPs often keep their networks under lock and key. They need the right tools that ensure continued governance of the network as they work with partners. 

API orchestration tools like MuleSoft help CSPs extend their network and securely share information with partners. BSS systems control these APIs running into and out of the network, create a single source of truth for the data, and provide a monetization mechanism for the CSP.

Offer dedicated slices of the network 

If an enterprise customer wants fixed wireless access with enhanced end-to-end security, they can get it with a dedicated slice of the 5G network. Slices are private network segments optimized for applications like drone surveillance, gaming, and virtual reality (VR). Think of 5G slicing as getting your own personal piece of the pie. 

Network slicing allows CSPs to explore new pricing models for applications, enterprise partnerships, and even NaaS. Initially there will only be a small number of slices, but the number will grow as standards mature. Each network slice can be based on finely tuned parameters like network priority and quality of service.

In a B2B scenario, a CSP can sell a secure, high-priority slice to a business to enable employees to work from home and access enterprise apps using fixed-wireless access. In a B2B2C scenario, an event promoter could contract for access to a “premium” slice optimized to deliver the best augmented reality (AR) experience at a concert. Superfans could purchase the AR-enhanced experience from the event promoter for access to the content and the 5G slice.

An agile, digital BSS with a converged charging system like MATRIXX Software is required to monetize these emerging use cases. It combines new and old pricing techniques across multiple parties in a flexible, cloud-based platform that can be configured quickly and easily.

Get started with a 5G monetization strategy 

I’m eager to see all of the ways CSPs think beyond connectivity to optimize their networks as 5G adoption accelerates over the next few years. B2B marketplaces, partner ecosystems, and network slicing will become core to 5G monetization.


Jonathan Phillips is the director of Communications Industry Marketing at Salesforce. He brings over 25 years of experience in business and technical architecture, solution consulting, and enterprise applications of CRM, contact centers, and telecommunications networks. As a well-respected industry leader, he regularly engages with customers and speaks at conferences and training sessions around the world.

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