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5G networks increase content consumption

Study reveals a near-$20bn spike in carrier billing spend over the next two years, driven by the growth in 5G-based mobile gaming and video subscriptions

The last 12 months or so have seen the rapid proliferation of 5G networks across the world, and the next 12 months or so will see the rapid monetisation of such infrastructures, says a study from Juniper Research.

Its new report, Carrier billing: opportunities, challenges & market forecasts 2022-2026 calculated that end-user spend via carrier billing will increase to $73.8bn in 2024, up from $54.4bn in 2021, with growth driven by 5G-based mobile gaming and video subscriptions. The study also expected carrier billing spend on content bundling to enable operators to further recoup investments into 5G by charging a premium to facilitate high-quality video and games streaming over 5G networks.

The research also found that carrier billing spend on digital ticket purchases will grow by 250%, from $141bn in 2021 to $275bn in 2024. It predicted that the rise of new transportation modes, such as mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), will drive carrier billing spend for transit services by offering an improved user experience across a single app that leverages carrier billing to process the payment.

Juniper also said that rich communication services (RCS) messaging will provide an interface between MaaS users and transit service providers, offering real-time travel updates. In a recent study, the analyst predicted that subscribers for the protocol for rich media messaging over operator networks, providing advanced business messaging services such as chatbots and payments, was likely to grow from 1.2 billion in 2022 to 3.8 billion by 2026, accounting for 40% of global mobile subscribers. This would represent growth of more than 200%.

And despite the competition from OTT apps, the research forecast that global operator revenue from RCS is likely to grow from $230m in 2022 to over $4.6bn by 2026.

But before mass monetisation takes place, the report warned that to take advantage of the growth, operators need to forge new partnerships with content providers to build frameworks enabling the distribution of new content paid for by carrier billing. Also, to maximise this opportunity further, it urged operators to offer payment services in markets under-served by existing digital payment methods to maximise carrier billing spend.

Another key element cited by Juniper in realising the potential of 5G was for operators to expand the geographical reach of carrier billing, taking advantage of the trust fostered between them and their subscribers, and becoming increasingly valuable partners to content providers. It identified the Indian subcontinent as a key target region for carrier billing stakeholders over the next two years, with smartphone penetration in the region expected to reach 50% by 2024.

New opportunities were also to be found in the transit sector, said research author Susannah Hampton. “Operators should focus on demonstrating their relevance to transit,” she said, “driving the further growth of carrier billing via an improved range of technology partnerships.”

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