5G is being over-hyped. One routinely finds 5G described as “revolutionary” and “transformative” in its promised effect on people’s lives and on industrial processes. Meantime, early 5G adopters are discovering that the 5G services available now are essentially a faster version of 4G.

The “revolutionary” capabilities of 5G are still a year or two away. Some disappointment is already evident among early 5G adopters, and it is important to prevent this growing into a backlash.

The reality is that 5G is a complicated marketing proposition. Operators must simultaneously promote the real benefits that 5G can deliver today, and educate customers about what’s in the pipeline, without getting the two mixed up. The key to success is to develop a timeline-based approach to marketing 5G, with messages evolving as new technical capabilities such as ultra-low latency and network slicing come to market.

Such an approach requires a deep understanding of the applications that are enabled by each successive new 5G capability, and the business outcomes they deliver, coupled with a clear view of the timeline for the emergence of those capabilities.

What Are the Benefits of This Approach?

This approach to 5G marketing delivers two major benefits. Firstly, it anchors customers’ expectations to the reality of what 5G can do. Secondly, and more importantly, it enables operators to identify and go after low-hanging fruit: the 5G applications that can deliver substantial new value to their customers right now, because those applications rely only on faster data transmission.

In the healthcare sector, for example, major benefits can be delivered by enabling practitioners and paramedics to engage in real-time videoconferencing and to exchange high-resolution images over the mobile network. Healthcare organisations can derive another set of major benefits from examining and treating patients in their homes, instead of requiring them to visit a clinic or a hospital.

Remote biometrics, video consultations and even mobile clinics can all be supported solely by the high data-throughput rates of today’s 5G services.

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