There are many definitions and explanations for 5G. One of the main explains derived from the customer-experience perspective, is that 5G networks and services will bring about the ultimate mobile experience.
However, to do this, 5G networks will have to overcome all the challenges that have so far stopped this vision from being fully fulfilled. So the question is, can they overcome those challenges?
To fully understand these challenges and decide whether they can be overcome, we need to dig deeper into the key factors of mobile customer experience. We also need to try and understand what has limited this experience so far from being, well perfect.
First, let’s define the key factors – content, end-devices, tariffs and network capabilities.
In today’s world, content is our main focus when using mobile services. People rarely use their phones for audio calls anymore and smartphones and other end devices are now mainly used to consume, create and share content.
This content becomes more and more multimedia-oriented as the use of applications such as Instagram and Snap, and services such as YouTube and Netflix become dominant, in particular amongst younger audiences.
End-devices play a major role in carving the mobile experience as they are the tools with which mobile services are consumed. The size and resolution of the screen affects the content consumption experience; the quality of the camera affects the quality of the content creation; and the strength of the chipset affects the content sharing and application fulfillment.
Tariffs are not normally associated with mobile experience, but as mobile consumption and creation have become more heavily biased towards multimedia, the heavier data consumption has become. This often results in the exhausting of the monthly data package way before the month ends, which leads to a very poor user experience.
Network capabilities are naturally the key to any mobile service. They define, based on any bottlenecks, the limits of the service experience in terms of capacity, coverage, latency, etc.
Over the decades and with mobile network generation, each of the above key factors posed a cap to the mobile experience.
Back in the 2G era, content was simply non-existent in the voice-centric mobile network. Calling and texting were the main uses of phones and the mobile experience was totally different than what we perceive as a mobile experience today.
The upgrade towards 3G opened up new possibilities for content as the network became data-centric and richer content could be accommodated by it. The limiting factor therefore became the end devices. While the screen size of end-devices increased and they offer the capabilities for more content, their main focus still remained voice and narrowband data applications. That is, until the introduction of the smartphone. The iPhone and other smartphones significantly changed the way we use mobile devices and the way we experience mobile services.
Evolution of smartphones and introduction of 4G-LTE networks
The evolution of smartphones and the introduction of 4G-LTE networks extended the possibilities to consume and, even more so, create content. This brought about the current state where in many networks, tariffs, the willingness to pay for a data package, and the availability of massive usage data packages still limit the mobile experience.
For this reason, during the last few years, more and more operators are offering unlimited (or practically-unlimited) data packages. This allows users to limitlessly enjoy their mobile services. The challenge though, is that this change has a major effect on the entire mobile network as it creates a huge surge in data traffic across the entire network.
Will mobile networks live up to consumer expectations and provide the limitless, ultimate, mobile experience?
In order for mobile networks to provide a limitless mobile experience, they need a bottleneck-less infrastructure. This applies to Radio Access Network (RAN), backhaul and core elements.
While Gigabit-LTE (based on LTE-Advanced Pro technology) comes very close to being this “perfect” network, 5G is the real deal. 5G RAN, 5G backhaul and 5G core are all designed to live up to the promise of the ultimate mobile experience. To do that, 5G RAN and 5G backhaul utilize new frequency bands, wider channels, advanced capacity boosting technologies and an updated architecture.
With these elements in place, Gigabit-LTE and 5G network and services can excel in capacity, coverage and latency to resolve the last limiting factor on the road to a perfect mobile experience, otherwise known as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).
Download this infographic to learn more about the 5G RAN and 5G backhaul technologies that are essential to fulfilling the 5G promise.