The Mobile Service Provider’s Guide to 5G Business Opportunities

Diana Adams
8 min readOct 14, 2019

When it comes to technology disruption, few companies have felt the complexities of digitalization as much as mobile service providers. Market growth is stagnant, and most providers are keen to add new 5G services to their portfolios. According to experts, along with 5G comes huge 5G-powered business opportunities that reach much further than connectivity alone.

I live in Atlanta. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have all already brought 5G to select areas in this city. I haven’t experienced 5G locally yet, but at this point, it will happen in days (not months).

From a consumer and tech journalist perspective, I’m obviously excited about 5G’s promise of low latency and high speed. Suddenly anyone who remembers video buffering will be considered an old-timer. And on the flip side, kids born today will likely never need a driver’s license. (just let that sink in for a moment)

The true value of 5G extends far beyond these obvious perks.

Yes, we tend to over-hype new technologies, but 5G is different. It will create a new world of opportunities for us that we can’t fully understand or prepare for right now.

The true value of 5G lies in its ability to move the human race forward so we can do, create and experience things that are currently unattainable. We’ll be able to be more. There are many life-changing applications that demand absolute reliability, and for the first time, that will be available.

For examples of these applications, think about use cases in the 10 industries listed below. I’m referring to healthcare, manufacturing, energy and utilities, automotive, agriculture, public safety, media, financial services, public transportation and retail.

For mobile service providers, the past few years have been all about preparing networks for the generation of IoT applications that are coming with 5G.

Our world is becoming things based. As things become more intelligent, the era of IoT will finally begin. Think cloud-based everything. If you think mobile applications have shaped us over the past decade, just wait for what’s to come.

But for mobile service providers, there are still questions that need to be answered.

What exactly are the new 5G business opportunities? Which ones should you address? How will you be able to implement them? What is your role in the value chain?

Enterprise customers want to invest to improve security, safety, mobility and productivity. But where do you start? How do you align 5G’s benefits with current and future business models?

The goal of this article (and of the in-depth Ericsson report referenced), is to provide a beacon of light for mobile service providers on this journey. I hope this article gives you a place to start — and helps you set a direction for your pursuit of 5G-powered B2B opportunities.

How to Tackle These Complicated Challenges

The first step towards tackling these complicated challenges is to devote the necessary time to gain a thorough understanding of the ever-changing 5G and IoT landscape.

This includes an understanding of the markets, the barriers, and the driving forces that help the different verticals adopt 5G use cases. 5G is expected to have a faster ramp-up than 4G (in coverage and subscriptions), so the time to get up-to-speed is now.

I’d humbly suggest you read Ericsson’s most recent comprehensive analysis (up-to-date as of October 2019)

This report provides an overview of the current market, and where Ericsson anticipates it heading through 2030. They’ve carefully analyzed the mobile service provider’s journey towards monetizing 5G. In addition to providing valuable insights, it will likely give you new ideas to apply to your current 5G strategy.

According to Ericsson:

This report is an attempt to size and segment a range of markets that will open up in the coming decade. It updates and extends Ericsson’s previous research into 5G business potential for service providers. We see it as very useful indicator — or compass — for where the market is heading and, as such, this study anticipates that by 2030 up to 700 billion USD of 5G-enabled business-to-business value is possible to be addressed by service providers.

What methodology was used for this report?

Ericsson used more than 200 concrete B2B use cases across 10 different industries. These industries were identified as ones that would benefit most from mobile/cellular technologies.

For these use cases, Ericsson identified the global digitalization revenues generated across all major categories of ICT players. This is from now until 2030.

From these revenues, Ericsson identified the share relying on 5G to materialize. And from that share, they identified the part that could be targeted by operators, constituting their maximum addressable market.

I’d like to briefly touch on a few of the key findings.

For additional details on each finding below, please download your own copy of the report at “5G for Business: a 2030 Market Compass”

  • The 5G business opportunities that extend beyond mobile broadband are substantial. Up to 18% of the total ICT addressable industry digitalization value and 47% of 5G-enabled revenues are potentially addressable by mobile service providers.
  • The size of the addressable market is different depending on what role the service provider chooses to take. It’s important to act now in 4G and early 5G deployments in order to build the momentum for growth. It is key to invest in 4G, to excel in 5G. (the report explains this in more detail)
  • A significant portion of future investments across industries will be driven by 5G-enabled services.

The total value of the global addressable 5G-enabled market for service providers across the 10 industries (beyond mobile broadband) is projected to be USD 700 billion in 2030.

  • Healthcare is the largest addressable market. Manufacturing, energy, utilities and automotive follow. This report helps service providers decide which market(s) to target and which barriers to overcome. [I’m not surprised that healthcare is the largest addressable market. 5G has the potential to get expert surgery to everyone on the planet through remote care.]
  • Many IT vendors have already established their roles within the different industries (thus, increasing competition). Still, there is a lot of potential new revenue for mobile service providers to capitalize on within the different industry verticals. These use cases are driven by new technologies like AI and IoT.
  • The 5G-enabled revenue potential for service providers is separated by industry. In the report, there’s a useful graph showing the individual impact of the top 10 industries. There’s a lot more that goes into the decision of whether or not to address an industry than just the percentage of revenue potential. The report explains the other important factors to consider.

This report provides detailed information for mobile service providers who want to expand their knowledge across industries.

The 10 Industries Included:

  • Healthcare (Significant Opportunities with Historical Barriers)
  • Manufacturing (Increased Caution and Brownfield Demands)
  • Energies and Utilities (Power Generation, Oil and Gas)
  • Automotive (Connectivity and Autonomous Drivers)
  • Public Safety (Infrastructure)
  • Media (E-Sport and Interactive Events)
  • Financial Services (Cyber Security and Blockchain)
  • Public Transport (Mass Transit)
  • Retail (Analytics and Mixed Reality)
  • Agriculture (Resource Optimization)

What is your role in the value chain?

In this report, the addressable market for service providers has been divided into 3 main value chain steps:

  • Connectivity and Infrastructure Provisioning
  • Service Enablement
  • Application and Service Provisioning

The mobile service provider’s value chain role will change according to industry. This report goes into detail about the 3 roles where B2B value chain opportunities can be found.

  • Network Developer
  • Service Enabler
  • Service Creator

Enhanced video service remains the greatest opportunity for service creators. As you’ll see in the graph below, it represents up to 17% of the total value (equating to up to USD 118 billion by 2030).

As a complement to this analysis, we invite you to join us for the corresponding webinar

Ericsson Webinar: 5G for Business
Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Time: AM Session: 9:00–10:00 CET — PM Session: 16:00–17:00 CET
Duration: 45 min + Q&A

If you are unable to attend this session, feel free to register and a link to the recording will be sent to you afterwards.

In this webinar, the speakers listed below will outline how to identify what intersections or coordinates to target across industries and use case clusters, for different mobile service provider ambitions and roles.

In addition, this live webinar will provide several concrete examples of where operators have successfully built B2B momentum already, which is a critical part of the massive growth expected (up to an additional 35% market opportunity, on top of services currently available).

We invite you to ask Ericsson’s 5G and IoT experts questions during the Q&A portion of the webinar. Even if you aren’t able to join the webinar live, we encourage you to register so you will receive the replay recording.

Webinar Speakers: Martin Ekstrand (Ericsson Strategic Marketing Director, 5G for Business Expert), Taimur Lodhi (Strategic Marketing Director, 5G & IoT Expert) and Andreas Thuelig (5G for Europe Program Manager)


Mobile service providers are still exploring uncharted territory. This comprehensive report serves as a flashlight that can light your way into the unknown.

According to Ericsson, this study is the first of its kind that takes a wholistic approach for service providers, quantifying the value of their potential addressable market across 10 different industries.

Now that 5G is in full swing, the insights in this report are even more specific and data-driven than ever before. I hope you take advantage of all this research. It is being offered to all mobile service providers to assist with building the momentum needed for 5G B2B success.

As always, thank you for reading. If you’d like to continue the conversation, please leave a comment below or tweet me at @adamsconsulting.



Diana Adams

Tech journalist, Apple ACN, Digital Transformation, IoT, 5G, AI and the future of tech.