What skills would be needed for Telecoms professionals in the 5G world?



We all have a mobile phone and, in this sense, we are all consumers of mobile technology. Over the past four decades, mobile networks have evolved in parallel to the internet. However, the next evolution of the mobile network (5G) has much to offer to the enterprise. Yes, consumers will benefit because 5G is more than 100 times faster than the prevailing network technology (4G / LTE). However, 5G also represents a fundamental change in architecture of the mobile network.

Over the last decade, telecoms has been evolving ‘as a service’. For example, the early efforts of the GSMA to create One API based on IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) allows access to payment, location, SMS etc, However, these were niche and experimental.

Now with 5G technologies, the capabilities of mobile networks and internet are converging to a much greater extent. This technical convergence has the potential to create massive opportunities for both enterprises and telecoms. COVID will only accelerate the need to deploy innovative solutions via 5G

Implications for new services

What does this mean for new services?

New services would be network aware. Currently, the service does not depend on the capabilities of the network. But 5G has some unique capabilities that could be leveraged by applications

Specifically, it would be possible to create low latency, high-bandwidth applications running on edge devices with high sensor density. You could also deploy live video analytics, which depends on low latency.

Typically, you would deploy new 5G based services as a partnership between an enterprise, a network operator, and a systems integrator. Hence, depending on the partnership between the telecom operator and the cloud provider, new services can be developed using existing cloud APIs Cloud APIs (ex: AWS, Azure, GCP). Mobile Edge Computing would be a key touchpoint for deployment of new services, especially Edge / IoT services.

Some applications like self-driving cars are still away. But many enterprise applications could be re-imagined through a combination of 5G, MEC, AI, IoT, robotics, AR, autonomous logistics systems etc

Implications for skills

But the biggest impact will be for skills in Telecoms. The integration with the enterprise world creates the need for a different type of application. Traditional telecoms services are B2C and depend on revenue measures like ARPU. With complex applications spanning the telecoms and the Cloud, a new skill set is required for telecoms which could include

  • AI
  • Edge / IoT
  • Cloud
  • Cyber Security
  • Media
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality
  • Creating autonomous systems
  • End to End services
  • Digital transformation
  • Robotics
  • Project management / Product management – execution

Most importantly, we need the imagination to rethink and retransform services with new capabilities enabled by 5G.

Image source GSMA

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