Network operators that offer an easy experience and premium features like location will differentiate themselves from other providers. Location-based value-added services are at the core of many features offered on cellular devices.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) own and operate the infrastructure necessary to provide wireless telecommunications services. Radio access network (RAN) vendors sometimes help MNOs operate them. Network operators focus on installing and maintaining the telecommunications infrastructure, control access to a radio spectrum license from the regional governing body, and then sell their wireless communication services to subscribers. Similarly, they can sell access to their networks to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), who then market these services to their subscribers. These industries benefit from the addition of location.
Growth in network operators and RAN vendors has recently been driven by the development of 5G spectrum and the commercialization of 5G technologies. This industry has seen rapid change throughout the world in recent years. Network operators worldwide have been upgrading their infrastructure from 2G to 3G to 4G, and most recently to 5G networks. 5G is the fifth generation of mobile broadband, that provides users with a higher bandwidth, lower latency cellular experience. A higher bandwidth allows for faster download and upload speeds, while lower latency means that it takes less time for devices to communicate with and connect to their networks. The advent of this network type also introduces a breadth of new opportunities, including within industrial IoT. The continued build-out of 5G will open up new doors for network operators as they can now divide up networks and offer alternative offerings based on premium pricing.
In July 2020, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a global wireless standards body, finalized the second set of specifications for 5G New Radio (NR) technology, called Release 16. 3GPP unites seven telecommunications standard development organizations, known as “Organizational Partners” and provides members with a stable environment to produce the Reports and Specifications that define 3GPP technologies. Release 16 facilitates and expedites the deployment of commercial-standard based 5G NR, benefitting telecom operators and network equipment manufacturers. This release sets the baseline for a 5G-based positioning architecture, which will meet the accuracy targets for indoor and outdoor positioning, and many new single-cell and multi-cell positioning techniques. These techniques include communications in vertical domains, network automation, novel radio techniques, and time difference of arrival. Release 17 is expected to be released in June 2021, with priorities including Multi-SIM, non-public networks, and phase 2 network automation.
“I see network operator locations taking advantage of more 5G specific signals in the next few years. Indoor and outdoor locations will be getting more accurate as these signals become more readily available,” predicts Larry Dodds, VP of Engineering, Skyhook.
Want to learn more? Read the rest of our white paper on the state of location and where we see the industry moving in the future.