Show Me the Money, 5G: Using Network Personalization to Monetize 5G

Monetization of 5G will necessitate user plane monitoring.

Tablet with different features and services shown in hexagons and 5G in left corner of tablet.

At this point, you’ve probably had an earful of the tremendous potential of 5G. For communications service providers (CSPs), the real burning question is this: How are we going to monetize these services? Deploying more advanced features and services will involve serious complexity as networks move to the cloud, new interfaces are introduced, and encryption is implemented.

Technical hurdles related to automation will further complicate the ability of CSPs to monetize 5G. Clearly, 5G for cell phones alone won’t justify the high cost of this new infrastructure. New and transformative use cases will have to take center stage for all of this investment to make sense for carriers.

The Growing Importance of Network Personalization

As carriers look to support improved voice, video, chat, and data over wireless networks, allowing them to monetize over-the-top applications such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) services, gaming, and esports, maximizing throughput and minimizing latency of 5G will be imperative. Network personalization will be heavily dependent on gaining a better understanding of the subscriber experience.

This means being able to look at the control plane to see where and when customers are attached and authenticated, as well as at the user plane to see what customers are doing once attached. Visibility into the user plane is essential to best understand the quality of service.

The data collected from the user plane can power advanced analytics that will support monetization efforts. Such data collection comes with consumer concerns about the use of personal information. Worries about the gathering of user data can be mitigated by putting safeguards in place, such as masking and filtering, that meet compliance standards set forth by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Next-Gen Monetization Use Cases

To justify the significant investments in 5G, CSPs will need to focus on areas with the greatest monetization potential. This could include connected and autonomous vehicles; contextual advertising; patient monitoring; VR and AR for training and worker safety; remote monitoring; real-time manufacturing; security video analytics; cloud gaming; smart city traffic management, building occupancy, and emergency alerts.

In addition, 5G holds the potential to monetize tourism via venue analytics, area analysis, and hotel and restaurant offers. It can bolster marketing through analytics of retail locations and store visitor activities. It can be used for mobile advertising and location promotions and out-of-home analytics, as well as geomarketing, customer care, and location-based charging.

Mobile edge computing (MEC) and 5G slicing will also bring about a greater market for 5G enterprise services, such as smart campuses. All of the data collected from users can be fed into big data lakes, where generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects can yield further business value.

Beyond the aforementioned capabilities, network personalization information based on user plane monitoring can be crucial in helping to combat various kinds of fraud, including credit card and insurance fraud, through transaction verification. Of particular importance to CSPs, this information can also be instrumental in combatting the depletion of radio spectrum resources. With a finite amount of bandwidth afforded to a given cell site, whether it’s 4G or 5G, preventing hackers from cannibalizing that cell bandwidth is crucial for freeing up bandwidth for paying customers.

You Can’t Guarantee What You Can’t See

It stands to reason that CSPs can’t achieve service assurance if they can’t see what is happening across the network. Ultimately, any efforts to monetize 5G will be heavily dependent on user plane monitoring. Although building out a user plane monitoring network can prove to be cost-prohibitive, NETSCOUT’s software-based, cloud-native instrumentation offers an affordable alternative.

Advanced analytics, powered by AI and ML, can deliver automated intelligence for real-time visibility into the performance of key applications and services. By removing barriers to user plane visibility, CSPs can gain deep visibility across MEC, which will be vital in opening the door to new 5G use cases and resulting revenue streams.

Learn more about how NETSCOUT supports affordable network personalization.