The Potential Short- And Long-Term Disruptions and Transformative Impacts of 5G and beyond Wireless Networks: Lessons Learnt from the Development of a 5G Testbed Environment

Mohmammad N. Patwary, Syed Junaid Nawaz*, Md Abdur Rahman, Shree Krishna Sharma, Md Mamunur Rashid, Stuart J. Barnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The capacity and coverage requirements for 5th generation (5G) and beyond wireless connectivity will be significantly different from the predecessor networks. To meet these requirements, the anticipated deployment cost in the United Kingdom (UK) is predicted to be between £30bn and £50bn, whereas the current annual capital expenditure (CapEX) of the mobile network operators (MNOs) is £2.5bn. This prospect has vastly impacted and has become one of the major delaying factors for building the 5G physical infrastructure, whereas other areas of 5G are progressing at their speed. Due to the expensive and complicated nature of the network infrastructure and spectrum, the second-tier operators, widely known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), are entirely dependent on the MNOs. In this paper, an extensive study is conducted to explore the possibilities of reducing the 5G deployment cost and developing viable business models. In this regard, the potential of infrastructure, data, and spectrum sharing is thoroughly investigated. It is established that the use of existing public infrastructure (e.g., streetlights, telephone poles, etc.) has a potential to reduce the anticipated cost by about 40% to 60%. This paper also reviews the recent Ofcom initiatives to release location-based licenses of the 5G-compatible radio spectrum. Our study suggests that simplification of infrastructure and spectrum will encourage the exponential growth of scenario-specific cellular networks (e.g., private networks, community networks, micro-operators) and will potentially disrupt the current business models of telecommunication business stakeholders - specifically MNOs and TowerCos. Furthermore, the anticipated dense device connectivity in 5G will increase the resolution of traditional and non-traditional data availability significantly. This will encourage extensive data harvesting as a business opportunity and function within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as large social networks. Consequently, the rise of new infrastructures and spectrum stakeholders is anticipated. This will fuel the development of a 5G data exchange ecosystem where data transactions are deemed to be high-value business commodities. The privacy and security of such data, as well as definitions of the associated revenue models and ownership, are challenging areas - and these have yet to emerge and mature fully. In this direction, this paper proposes the development of a unified data hub with layered structured privacy and security along with blockchain and encrypted off-chain based ownership/royalty tracking. Also, a data economy-oriented business model is proposed. The study found that with the potential commodification of data and data transactions along with the low-cost physical infrastructure and spectrum, the 5G network will introduce significant disruption in the Telco business ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8951153
Pages (from-to)11352-11379
Number of pages28
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • 5G
  • beyond 5G
  • deployment
  • infrastructure
  • security
  • teleco business
  • testbed


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