[Video] The 5G disruption quadrant

By Dudy Cohen 8 min read

5G is a disruptive technology. It is disruptive in more ways than one.

In order to understand how can this disruption affect operators' business and network architecture, we need to understand the 5G disruption quadrant.


5G Disruption quatrant

Hear ye, hear ye! I would like to introduce the 5G Disruption Quadrant.
Wait. The 5G what quadrant? The 5G Disruption Quadrant. Because 5G is a disruptive technology and it is disruptive in multiple dimensions.

In order to understand how we can leverage and use this disruption or how would this disruption affect us, let's understand what 5G disruption is all about. And for this, we can paint the 5G Disruption Quadrant. It has two main dimensions.

One is the solution dimension and the other is the operations or service dimensions.
In the solution dimensions, the driver for the disruption is openness, is the cloud-native architecture that drives 5G RAN that is existent in the 5G core and that gains traction in 5G hauling.
So if in the classic or conservative side of the disruption, we find the classic approach of hardware, software, and radio, which are all proprietary and all come from the same vendor and reside in the same site, when we come and disrupt the architecture, we suddenly find new elements like:
CU, DU, and RU, of which we have talked about many times, that reside in different sites of the network, that means that it's the base station that we know, can now be found in different sites of the network. And on top of it, we can have a highly disruptive approach in which not only do we split the functionality of the base station, we also take the hardware-software-radio monolithic approach and change the hardware into a commercial off-the-shelf hardware. That means a wide box. We take the software from any vendor or even an open source software, and we take the radio from the radio expert.

So combining these levels of disruption creates the axis of solution disruption in the 5G Disruptive Quadrant. Now let's talk about the operations. Let's talk about the services. On the classic side, we have the classic approach of those laggers, of those incumbents that still approach the same target market with the same services and “more of the same” approach, if you may, that promotes eMBB, but not others. If we move on the disruption scale towards the right, we find new services, we find fixed wireless access. We find both ultra-reliable low-latency communication and we find mMTC.
And on the highly disruptive, we also find a new go-to-market approach. This is the disruption in terms of services, of operations.

So when we look at the quadrant, we need to imagine, what does it mean to be in each area of the quadrant? If you are here, you are probably a slow mover. That means that you not only do not implement disruptive technology in your network, you do not address new markets or go after new areas and services.

On the other side, on the upper right area of the quadrant, we have the highly disruptive.
These are operators that do not only leverage the new architecture, but also seek new target markets and new opportunities to create new revenue streams. If you are addressing a specific market, if you are focusing, for instance, only on verticals or industry, you are probably a niche disruptor. And you will probably use the classic approach to building your network, but offer new and exciting services such as industrial IoT to specific target markets.
You will find here players that are not commonly found as a service provider.

And if you leverage the openness and the disaggregation of the architecture of your network, but do not use it for new services, what do you need it for? You need it for cost reduction. So you are probably in the cost-driven area of the quadrant. Now, whom will we find in each area?
Here we will find the incumbents, the laggers, those who do not move fast enough, they are the slow movers, and those who do more of the same approach when they do their go-to-market.
On the other side, we will find and this is a bit of a surprise, the greenfields. The greenfields are operators such as Rakuten in Japan and Dish Networks in the US, which bring new service to the market, new mobile service.

Now, you might think that those operators that lack the experience and the know-how in mobile networks, will go to a bundle deal provider that will provide them end-to-end solutions in a very conservative approach. But they seek and understand the value of disruption on the technology level and this is why we see them here in the highly disruptive, because not only do they have an exciting go to market because they have to penetrate a new and well-established market, they also go for the open approach to the cloud-native architecture approach.

Here you'll find some surprising operators, such as industrial conglomerates like Siemens and Bosch, who got the 5G license in order to build 5G network to serve industrial customers. And of course, when it comes to incumbents, you will find them, if they are not slow movers, either here driven by cost and seeking to reduce their operational and capital expenses, or here in the highly disruptive approach, getting more services to more markets and expanding their network.

One last type of operators resides around here in the highly disruptive. These are organizations that we do not tend to think about as operators. Those are the cloud service providers. Amazon Web Service, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. You will see them here because those are the new type of carriers of carriers. They provide services to the operators, not like a vendor, but like an operator. They say "Don't get the hardware yourself. We will provide you the processing power, the capacity, the latency, the geographical coverage and everything you need on our infrastructure.
And you will be able to build your network much faster". This is a very interesting move from them, especially from Microsoft that acquired lately Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch on its way to become a significant player in this market.

Now that we understand the 5G Disruption Quadrant, it's up to you, in which area of the quadrant you would like to be. In which area are you now and where are you aiming to be? Good luck in 5G and thank you for watching.

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