The Appledore team attended MWC 2019 in Barcelona and after a full week distilled some key themes on the 5G market and potential business models that will unfold over the next three years.

1. 5G was the dominant theme of the show, with most displays using 5G as a visionary enabler for drones, cars, VR/AR and even medicine. We are seeing increased agreement that many of these hyped use cases, including autonomic vehicles, are not realistic as proposed. Life and death data and decision making cannot be placed on a weather-dependent public network.

2. Beneath this market hype though there was a much more pragmatic focus, from operators and network equipment vendors, on realistic, near term use cases in which 5G can address immediate issues with existing LTE networks supplying mobile broadband, fixed broadband access, and in the mid-term enables industrial automation using private 5G and hybrid networks.

3. The move from 4G to 5G will initially be a network evolution to support a 4G+ model. However, the ultimate success of 5G will ultimately require a business and operational revolution.

4. Beyond these near-term drivers, there was huge interest in what 5G use cases would prove valuable practically and economically.

5. Operational Analytics, unifying engineering, planning, fulfillment, and operations to support closed loop operations. This is the future operational model as CSPs pursue their quest of a “lights out” NOC.

6. Network Edge Computing (NEC) and 5G pricing models. How should operators and suppliers prepare for disruption in the RAN and edge network? What will be the potential viable business and pricing models for NEC and 5G?

7. Virtualization is at last being used for commercial business. Proof of concepts for NFV and SDN are behind us and commercial deployments that support real business cases are now materializing.

8. Geopolitical gamesmanship between the US and China played out in Barcelona. We think attempts to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt will fade over time and Huawei will continue to maintain its dominance and win more 5G deals in the future expanding its global footprint.

9. Opensource radio and its impact on the industry. We think in the end it is an enterprise play and will fail in CSPs.

10. The CSP procurement process is broken! The RFP process and legacy terminology perpetuate past processes and need to change. CSPs can’t do cloud-native automation using an RFP procurement model tied to an existing operational process model.