2020: a new decade and the real beginning of the 5G era. At the start of the year 33 CSPs across 18 countries had launched commercial 5G services and another 77 operators will do so in 2020. As CSPs now double their rate of investment in 5G, they have to get real if they want to see RoI – swiftly moving from the ‘PR’ phase to introducing effective strategies to drive new revenues.

5G is different. When it comes to monetization, the GSMA predicts that 5G will become the first generation of mobile technology to have a bigger impact on businesses than on consumers1. Industry watchers agree. More importantly, so do many CSPs. But if B2B is the ‘North Star’ for 5G revenues, no one seems to have drawn a map for operators of how to get there. Indeed, there are more questions than answers surrounding the 5G B2B opportunity. What are the winning use cases? Which segment – SMB or enterprise – represents the biggest opportunity? How important are generic, horizontal offerings vs. specialized, vertical services? Will businesses buy from CSPs or will they look to other companies? What’s the role of the CSP in the 5G value chain?

To help CSPs navigate the 5G B2B journey, Beyond Now commissioned a large-scale primary research study to examine the real attitudes of both CSPs and business customers around the world towards 5G, and the potential role of the CSP in the 5G era. Conducted and analyzed in late-2019, research firm Coleman Parkes interviewed 250 technology decision makers from 100 enterprises and 150 SMB – in verticals such as manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education, transportation and media – across Europe, Asia and North America. 90 senior executives within CSPs were also surveyed from these three regions.

The view from businesses: great expectations, but don’t forget SMBs

Businesses believe in 5G. 75% of both large enterprises and SMBs across all regions think that 5G will be important to their businesses.

Why will 5G be important to large enterprises? Unsurprisingly, improving network speed and business availability are important – much early 5G marketing has focused on 5G’s impressive speeds and reliability. However, what’s interesting is the idea that’s making the GSMA and industry watchers excited – 5G enabling more advanced solutions combining devices, connectivity and applications – is perceived as a big opportunity for enterprises around the world. Awareness of the more advanced potential of B2B 5G is high. This is especially the case in North America, where enterprises appear to be taking a more sophisticated approach to their 5G thinking.

While much of the discussion around B2B 5G focuses on large enterprises, our survey reveals that SMBs present a very interesting opportunity to CSPs. According to Ovum, SMBs represent 99% of businesses worldwide and are a major engine of growth, job creation and source of new innovation in most economies, yet until now SMBs have received little attention in the 5G conversation. SMBs across all regions see 5G in a positive light. Again, the value to them of speed and reliability are rated highly (more than for enterprises), and expectations of improved network costs are also higher. Positively, SMBs see 5G as an enabling technology for more advanced solutions. European SMBs are most enthusiastic (86%), SMBs in Asia least so (60%). These insights demonstrate a clear 5G opportunity for CSPs in the SMB market, where maturity in thinking is high – most notably in Europe, but also in Asia and North America.

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B2B is the ‘North Star’ for 5G revenues: how do CSPs get there?

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