Telecommunications innovation

Supercharged with 5G

Over the next few years, 5G is positioned to become the standard for mobile communications technology, ushering in a new era of connectivity, speed and possibility.

PwC Canada’s professionals work with telecommunications service providers grappling with issues such as heightened compliance and regulatory requirements, market price erosion, and outsourcing overseas. Now, we can help you can turn 5G into new services, use cases and revenue opportunities.

With its high capacity, ultra-reliability, low latency, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity, 5G has the potential to transform businesses in all sectors. While 5G networks will require heavy infrastructure investments, Canadian telecommunications companies who embrace this technology can find greater competitiveness through cross-sector collaboration.

PwC Canada can help you navigate the challenges of the Canadian and global landscape. With our extensive experience across industries, we can help you anticipate the impact of 5G, uncover opportunities and reimagine business models.

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Building a 5G strategy

5G is ushering in a new reality. When combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT), its transformative power is staggering. Laggards in embracing this technology will be left behind. 

A healthy Canadian telecommunications industry is key to the country’s high-tech success. 5G network infrastructure will be the backbone of Industry 4.0, as 5G delivers a step change in connectivity through faster speeds, ultra-reliable communications, and the ability to connect one million devices per square kilometer. This will allow end-to-end digitization of physical assets and integration into a digital ecosystem marked by hyper-intelligent, autonomous devices.

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5G infrastructure is expected to cost Canadian telecom operators from 23% to 71% more than 4G, with the benefits mostly realized by the broader economy. Forecasted benefits to the broader Canadian economy are at C$40 billion in incremental annual GDP contribution by 2026, and around 250,000 permanent jobs. However, connectivity is only expected to account for 11% of the direct value generated from 5G.

Today, telecommunications companies are mapping out new business models to plug into the benefits of 5G—the future of the telecommunications industry. They can create new revenue streams, namely by serving 5G-reliant service providers in addition to end users. In a business-to-business-to-X (B2B2X) model, telecommunications companies can monetize their network and adapt delivery to suit a wide range of use cases.

Our team of experts can help you build a 5G strategy, uncover profitable combinations of 5G customers, channels and pricing, and deploy the right operating model and infrastructure plans to make the switch to 5G.

Navigating 5G challenges in Canada

When it comes to deploying 5G, countries who roll out these services at speed and scale will have a significant competitive advantage. Yet the Canadian telecommunications industry faces a certain number of local challenges.

Canadian telcos spend about 5.3% more on capital expenditures (as a percentage of revenue) than their counterparts in other countries, due to higher factors of production driven by geography, scale, and spectrum costs. On the other hand, they generally benefit from lower labour, corporate tax and electricity costs than their competitors.

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At the same time, new and potential regulatory changes in Canada could slow 5G adoption. While the introduction of unlimited data plans is expected to reduce costs for consumers, it translates into a reduction in revenue for the telecom industry. Potential regulation to mandate wholesale access to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) could also have significant implications. Countries that have introduced similar regulation have seen major average revenue per user (ARPU) declines. Our research suggests that any ARPU decline in the early stage of next-generation rollout could slow implementation and adoption. Finally, public health concerns over increased exposure to higher frequency radio waves could lead to additional regulations and slow 5G adoption.

For Canada to maintain its competitiveness, all stakeholders—telecom operators, regulators, government, software/hardware manufacturers and consumer organizations—will need to cooperate to enact a market environment that enables 5G network investments.

PwC Canada’s professionals can help you interpret and respond to regulatory uncertainties, and find the right strategies and timing to create, accelerate and protect 5G investments.

Embracing 5G use cases

Powered by 5G, businesses will be able to see, do and achieve more. The lightning speed, high capacity, ultra-reliability, low latency, reduced energy usage and massive connectivity provided by 5G networks will enable organizations to leverage the full power of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). 

This wide range of use cases opens up a myriad of opportunities for increasing competitiveness by building cross-sector collaboration between the telecommunication sector and other industries. 

PwC Canada’s professionals can help you uncover opportunities you didn’t know existed. Our team of subject matter experts can help you anticipate the impact of 5G and adapt your service delivery to suit a wide range of use cases.

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Enterprises in a variety of sectors can leverage 5G technology

In healthcare, 5G promises to enable a new health ecosystem

the modern factory is already a highly complex environment

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Collaboration is key to Canada’s 5G and Industry 4.0 success

Why we need cooperative models to deliver 5G networks for Canada’s post-COVID-19 connectivity needs

As we all know, COVID-19 has forced us to quickly change our ways of working and living, and this has been made possible by internet connectivity. Going forward, both connectivity and Industry 4.0 will be critical to Canada’s long-term economic success. While Industry 4.0 will drive productivity, efficiency and flexibility across the economy, it will rely on advanced connectivity networks such as 5G.

Right now, there’s a window of opportunity for Canada to more firmly leverage 5G as an investment catalyst. But this will require cooperation across government, the telecommunications sector and broader industry.

Interested in learning more about how we can collaborate to deliver 5G networks? Check out our report here.

Mitigating 5G risks

Alongside these opportunities, 5G’s combination of new capabilities and virtualization also brings new threats. Organizations will need to revisit and strengthen their cybersecurity approach.

5G has significantly more network end-points that can be exposed to cyber criminals, and 5G virtualization means the whole connection is based on software—which is inherently hackable. Cybersecurity threats are evolving in real time; organizations will need to consider access points, data, and potential threats to determine a more holistic cyber approach.

Findings from our Global Digital Trust Insights 2021 showed that organizations with the broadest transformations of cybersecurity security had twice as much success than their peers: higher prevention of attacks, faster response to disruptions, greater compliance with regulations and improved customer experience. 

When it comes to 5G and cybersecurity, we recommend five actions to get to the next level:

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  • Reset your cyber strategy and leadership
  • Rethink your cyber budgeting to get more out of spend
  • Invest in every advantage to level the playing field with attackers
  • Build resilience for any scenario
  • Future-proof your security team

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Cybersecurity, privacy and financial crime

Grow through secure digital transformation

Take a broader view of cybersecurity, privacy and financial crime as protectors and enablers of the business to position you to enhance resilience, build trust and create new value. Unite your lines of defence against modern-day threats while exploring new possibilities in a digital and data-driven world.

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Contact us

John Simcoe

John Simcoe

National Media & Telecom Lead, Assurance Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 815 5231

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