Operators failing to support 5G needs of small businesses

(Image credit: Future)

Operators are missing out on a potentially huge market opportunity by under-serving the millions of small and medium-sized businesses around the world desperate to use 5G networks, new research has said.

A report from BearingPoint//Beyond has found that the majority of communications service providers (CSPs) are focusing largely on the 5G needs of larger multinational customers, and leaving smaller enterprises behind.

This is despite SMBs making up 99% of the world's businesses, and the market potentially being worth as much as $433 billion (£311 billion) by 2025.

SMB opportunity

The report noted that many SMBs are looking to 5G as one of the key technologies that will help them grow and expand, and are looking to CSPs and operators to help enable this, with nearly half (42%) prioritizing them to execute their 5G strategies.

Conversely, many larger enterprises actually prefer to work with a partner that is not a CSP to help deliver their 5G strategy - with the report finding that nearly three-quarters (72%) of big firms saying this was their preferred option. Nearly a third (31%) of large multinational enterprises will choose cloud service providers to execute their 5G strategies and 34% even favor taking a D.I.Y. approach.

Despite this, the majority of operators focus as much as 70% of resources on a section of the enterprise market that accounts for only 1% of global businesses.

“CSPs are still trying to approach 5G the same way they approached 4G, with a clear focus on consumer and enterprise," said Angus Ward, CEO, BearingPoint//Beyond.

"Digitalization and COVID-19 have transformed the needs of SMEs and their awareness of the impact that new technologies such as 5G, IoT, and AI can have on their business to enhance productivity and efficiency, and boost sales."

"However, it’s clear that it’s not 5G technology that they’re after, instead SMEs understand that 5G is one part of a broader technology solution that they need."

"SMEs are aware of the benefits 5G can bring to their businesses and already view CSPs as their trusted 5G partners," added Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst, Enterprise Services, Service Provider & Communication, Omdia, which collaborated on the research.

"It’s therefore critical that CSPs enable 5G to triage SMEs’ business context and industry solutions with outcome-based value propositions, to reap the rewards of this customer base.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.