Creating value from 5G: The challenge for mobile operators

Jason Whalley*, Peter Curwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


5G is often described as a transformational technology. Through its superior technical characteristics compared to previous generations of mobile technologies, 5G supports the development of innovative services and products across the whole economy. As a consequence, the potential impact of 5G is frequently described as being significant, with estimates of $1 trillion or more being added to global GDP by the end of the decade being common. For mobile operators, 5G provides an opportunity to generate new sources of revenue. This would boost their revenues, and thus their market capitalisations which have fallen in recent years as value has migrated to other parts of the digital economy. In this paper we argue that mobile operators face a number of inter-woven challenges that will shape their ability to utilise 5G to generate new sources of revenues. These reflect the multi-faceted role that 5G will play in today's economy, where it is both a service in its own right but also one that enables the delivery of other services. Not only may users be unwilling to pay a premium for 5G, but as it is used in other sectors the role of mobile operators is thrown into doubt. Local licences question the role of and need for mobile operators, who may find providing 5G-enabled services to vertical industries difficult due to the nature of these sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102647
Number of pages12
JournalTelecommunications Policy
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024

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