5G is bigger than devices and service providers: Insights from Anthony Goonetilleke
What is your key takeaway from Mobile World Congress 2019?
Goonetilleke: There were a few years where it felt like we had to try and get excited at Mobile World Congress over the launch of a new handset, but this year there was a change in the pulse due to 5G. A lot of the excitement came not just from companies rolling out 5G capabilities, but around the 5G ecosystem that enable interesting use cases and business models in various industries.
Were you surprised by anything?
I’m surprised by how much faster than expected the inevitable 5G partnerships are happening, across technologies as well as between companies. It’s clear 5G is going to be monetized with creative collaborations through non-traditional companies; not just equipment makers or service providers.
When I start to think about areas like healthcare, self-care, and IoT, I don’t think we can imagine the use cases we’ll see in the next 12 months. Think about a third-world country not having the right doctors, hospitals or level of expertise. A doctor from John Hopkins could perform surgery remotely, effectively democratizing healthcare. Use cases like AR and VR will feel like table stakes.
Is there something that service providers are missing?
I’m a little disappointed in how the industry is utilizing intelligence right now. To bring areas like 5G to the next level, we need to start leveraging intelligence appropriately. There has to be a better view of how we leverage data, while tackling privacy and security concerns. Intelligence can be used to accelerate benefits in a big way.
The conversation should start with automation and then progress to the artificial intelligence part. How do we take manual processes and seamlessly automate them? We’re getting better, but there is a long way to go. It’s a track that has to accelerate to deliver on its promises.
There is a lot of discussion around 5G’s price tag. Is this the case with most new technologies, or is 5G different?
It’s different. If I asked you 10 years ago how much you’ll pay to have all of your music online through a subscription service, you wouldn’t know what to say. Now, Spotify has over 90 million paid subscribers. 5G is different because we have existing expectations due to 3G and 4G.
I don’t think tomorrow you can double the price of a monthly mobile family plan, even if speeds are significantly faster. The general population will say they don’t need a faster connection. You can’t offer a 5G phone and provide the same services you did for 4G. It has to be more than just faster. What can consumers do with 5G that they couldn’t before? We need to get them to understand: 5G is more than phones and devices, and we have to deliver on the promise of new services around the 5G economy.
How will 5G change the gaming industry?
The big differentiator here is edge computing and low latency. A big part of gaming today is on the console side. The tipping point will be when consoles start to be replaced with high-quality RPG games that can be streamed directly to your TV, which 5G can enable. We’ll see a move from hardware to platforms. The console experience will evolve to the home hub, and service providers should be asking, “How do I own the HDMI port to every TV set in the house,” either via gaming or content.