When discussing the potential of 5G technology, the focus is most of the times on the benefits that its high-speed and low latency will bring to customers: such features will enable and boost all kind of new services, from self-driving trucks to live telemedicine surgery.
What is often forgotten is that 5G also means big business. A recent study by Jupiter Research, found that annual operator billed revenues could approach $300 billion (€ 266.526 billion) in 2025. Due to the peculiar nature of 5G’s logical architecture, correct billing and revenue sharing between different service providers, however, might not be easy as it seems, and that’s where EIT Digital supported innovation activity 5G biller comes into play.
“Unlike what happened with previous technologies, 5G is a very distributed service, taking advantage of both physical network infrastructures and cloud-based services. Therefore, it’s not always easy to tell how much is consumed on the infrastructure side and how much by the final user for the cloud service,” Research and Development manager Jonathan Rivalan says.
Rivalan works for Alterway - an innovative French SME specialized in Open Source platforms development - which operates as 5G Biller’s activity leader.
Other partners of the initiative include Nokia Bell Labs and Engineering. “Take for instance 5G applications for video broadcasting: they could be composed of 3 different parts, with each application part being hosted by a different provider, charging a different price for their specific service,” Rivalan says. What 5G Biller is doing, is creating an abstract layer, to be added above some user metrics (for instance, CPU consumption, hardware usage, network usage) that will allow to identify usage patterns and produce a “rating” that will allow each operator to understand how much they are spending for a single user.
A further evolution will be to single out the different components in order to bill them separately and share the revenue with the supplier. “In the case of a marketplace offering to companies the opportunity to create their own 5G application, by choosing all kind of parameters, from bandwidth to sub-layers configuration, the rating could be used to understand what the patterns of consumption are, both on the legacy infrastructure and the cloud-based one.
Then the editor could provide the service to B2C customers, knowing exactly what they are using and how much,” the activity leader explains. Alterway engineers are currently evaluating a 5G Biller prototype, with the first trial customers scheduled to test the solution between October and December this year.