What might differentiated 5G services look like in practice?
Delivering differentiated voice and multi-media services has long been an aspiration for MNOs. Efforts have, largely, been limited – but 5G brings the potential to take voice and multi-media communications into new areas, blending capabilities with specialist requirements, provided your core voice engines have the flexibility to adapt.
Can operators really deliver vertically differentiated services?
It has long been the ambition of many operators to offer differentiated services to their business customers. The aspiration is to, for example, provide something that is optimised for the needs of customers in different segments – such as healthcare, hospitality and so on – based on a common core platform.
The reality is that few have managed to achieve this. Instead, the common approach has typically been to present the same service in different ways to each selected audience, or simply to segment horizontally, offering a slightly tweaked offer to companies of different sizes.
In practice, the services have largely been the same. This is perfectly reasonable, of course, and many of our customers have the same approach. A suite of related business services, bundled in different ways for SME customers, enterprise and so on. However, the possibility has always been there to create something that is highly tuned to the needs of a different vertical market (using our service creation and customisation toolkit).
But, doing so and sustaining such offers has proven to be difficult – because of the complexity of handling subtle differences between audience needs. This approach, has, largely stood our customers in good stead and will doubtless continue for some time.
Building a vertical focus – leverage existing capabilities and repurpose them
With 5G however, much of the excitement concerns the potential to deliver very differentiated services for specific industries, based on different performance criteria. This builds on the aspirations to which we have referred above, but also suggests a heightened awareness of the capabilities of 5G to support real differentiation from the perspective of performance.
It also allows us to consider how the two ambitions can be aligned. So, what might such differentiated services look like in practice? Let’s take a couple of examples. The construction industry has long had specialised communications needs. Many in this sector have been exploring 5G private networks, for example, for several years.
Supporting new communications models for construction
In this context, such networks are designed for rapid deployment at building sites, so they can support digital functions, such as Building Information Modelling (BIMs), digital twins and so on. 5G can bring lower latency, so the potential to support remote control of building tools and machinery could be enabled (wireless operation for tower cranes is certainly one topic that has often been highlighted).
At the same time, onsite communication is essential. Many building firms already make use of ruggedised handsets, equipped with “Push-to-Talk” (PTT) functionality to ease communication. There is also a need to log in and log out (for site safety). This suggests that operators can, in addition to providing such private networks, also combine these with dedicated communications services.
Logging in and out on entry / departure from a site is analogous to doing so from a switchboard or a hunt service. So, in this case, it’s quite easy to see how a core UC capability can be adapted specifically for the use of the construction sector, based on a common platform. All that would be required would be the creation of specific user groups, the integration with any other services that might be related (e.g., emergency alarms and alerts to place calls to specific roles, cycling through the defined team), and the inclusion of the PTT function
That combination would take existing (and common) business logic functions from a classical mPBX or UC solution, such as Gintel offers, and embed them much more deeply into the specialised use cases required by the construction industry.
Addressing healthcare by extending new digital services with comms
Another example. There are numerous ways in which 5G can help in the healthcare industry, from the adoption of dedicated slices in hospitals, to equipping ambulances with mobile cells for wireless connectivity for equipment. In emergency situations, timing is everything, but information is also important.
Classical telecoms has always supported emergency events, through the provision of call handling services and more. But, additional levels of integration with the healthcare devices and infrastructure seems a very promising area to explore. It’s not that there’s a specific 5G capability that is required, rather that the blended capabilities offer something useful and new.
For example, any emergency response is a combination of several chains of activities. A distress call is taken, an incident created, a responder dispatched, capacity reserved in the treatment centre – all of these are events that we can consider. Where we could achieve a better outcome is through enabling greater team and agency collaboration via the addition of voice capabilities across these chains, helping to bring things together – and to drive efficiencies, particularly when we consider bringing devices into the picture.
What we need are services – based on existing core components from mPBX or UC systems – that can be triggered by a diversity of events. For example, a remote monitoring device that automatically generates an emergency call. This could then lead to the establishment of a temporary collaboration group for the responders in the field and in the hospital who can contribute to the investigation – doing this on the fly adds dynamism to what are essentially standard building blocks – an ad hoc team that can share information and ensure more effective flow. It can also be combined with QoS control in the 5G local area, so that those on the ground can receive the performance their particular applications need.
Flexibility is key – talk to us and discover more
What this really means is that 5G, while it doesn’t necessarily change the fundamentals of UC and voice / multi-media session handling, does bring new opportunities for combining established practices and service logic elements with new services that are unlocked by 5G – and, crucially, it provides a platform through which operators really can start to differentiate what they deliver to different verticals.
All of this, however, is contingent on the flexibility of the voice and multi-media platforms that manage UC service elements. If they can be extended and manipulated, then they can provide new, complementary elements for future 5G vertical services. Of course, we can help you achieve that – so why not talk to us about how you can really boost your vertical offers with flexible UC and multi-media capabilities?