Nokia: New Autonomous Customer Care Solution Offers Digital Care Breakthroughs, but are Interactive Bots Ready for Prime Time?

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia debuted its Nokia Autonomous Customer Care solution at its Nokia Analyst Day before the TM Forum Live! show, leveraging machine learning-powered interactive care bots to predict and resolve residential service concerns.
  • Nokia faces near-term support challenges as operators align their operations to take advantage of consumer intelligent assistants to improve customer care.

At the Nokia Analyst Day preceding the TM Forum Live! show, Nokia unveiled its Nokia Autonomous Customer Care solution, aimed at increasing the intelligence of operator digital care and creating new revenue streams. The solution offers interactive care bots, such as Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Messenger, using natural language processing (NLP) and Nokia Bell Labs machine learning algorithms to predict and resolve service-degrading issues more efficiently. However, Nokia confronts near-term operator support challenges in scaling autonomous care.   Read more of this post

TU Automotive 2017: More Ecosystems than a Coral Reef

 

Jason Marcheck

Jason Marcheck – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

“The automotive industry reminds me of the telecom industry ten years ago.” Hearing that statement gave me faith that I was not hopelessly out of my depth at the recently concluded TU Automotive show in Detroit. Then, when I heard one of the so-called futurists on a panel tell the audience that auto manufacturers needed to start thinking like telcos my ears really perked up.

Turns out that after two full days of presentations and meetings at last week, this ICT analyst was more in my element than I expected to be. Although I think that utilities of today are much more like telecoms companies of ten years ago than auto manufacturers are, and I can’t really see how or why I would advise Ford to fashion its go-to-market like AT&T’s (the products are simply too different), there are several meaningful intersections between automotive and ICT. Read more of this post

Calix Meets the Double-Edged Sword of Services Expansion

Paul Rizzuto – Senior Analyst, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Calix expanded its professional services portfolio throughout 2016, strengthening existing operator relationships, but experienced the difficulties of organically growing services.
  • Calix displayed significant services revenue growth during Q1 2017, but was challenged by a subsequent cost of revenue increase.

Over the past year, Calix, a network equipment provider specializing in fiber access solutions, made a concerted effort to expand its professional services organization. Acting on customer demand, the vendor, which primarily operates within North America, began investing in services including network planning, product installation, testing, and network turn-up. While Calix had a modest professional services organization prior to its ramp up, the expansion has significantly increased the role of services, both internally and externally. By the end of 2016, Calix hired a new services lead and fully committed to services expansion, adding expertise and capabilities. Read more of this post

TM Forum Live! 2017: Open Source MANO Continues to Divide Opinion

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Open source MANO initiatives continue to divide opinion across both the vendor and carrier communities, recent polls show.
  • The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track strategy – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

During GlobalData’s “Vive le Forum! A Recap of TM Forum Live! 2017” webinar in May, we invited attendees to respond to the poll question “Open Source MANO projects have now reduced to two (ONAP and OSM). Will this help to accelerate operator MANO procurement?” The results were as follows:

It was exactly a 50-50 split (honest!) between those who thought YES and those who thought NO, furthermore no particular YES or NO reason dominated. This suggests that open source MANO remains a divisive issue in the industry as a whole (and yes, both vendors and carriers were represented and responded across all four options).

An earlier survey in March conducted by SDxCentral tended to confirm this conclusion, reporting that “26% of Users Will Not Consider Open Source MANO”. In the same report, 49% also said that they will consider open source MANO solutions “once they are more mature.” Of course, no poll is ever an accurate portrayal of the real world and you can always poke holes in the questions, demographics and sample sizes, but I think we can conclude from the general drift of these results that, at least for now, open source MANO of any flavor, has not gained majority acceptance.

 

But will it ever gain that acceptance? Most players accepted and indeed welcomed open source initiatives in the VIM domain (OpenStack and OPNFV) and even its extension into the VNFM domain (OpenStack Tacker) – but open source in the NFVO and above? That came as a real surprise. GlobalData discussions with NFV MANO vendors at TM Forum Live! 2017 revealed a full spectrum of views on the “intrusion” of open source MANO into the market and whether incorporation – either piecemeal or wholesale – into vendor offerings was a good idea.

On the “far YES” side we found Amdocs maintaining a very positive view, given its position with AT&T, ECOMP and ONAP, effectively replacing its earlier commercial product with ONAP and even tweeting in May “These numbers would probably be significantly different if the survey was taken today #ONAP” in response to the SDN Central survey. On the “far NO” side, vendors like HPE were really concerned that, despite some of its advantages, the prospect of open source MANO alternatives has introduced an unwelcome “pause” in carrier minds that they can ill afford to take. Most other vendors are scattered somewhere in between, although more naturally clustered toward the “NO” end.

At the end of the day, however, it will be carriers, not vendors that decide the fate of open source MANO. Our impression at TM Forum Live! 2017 was that many of them indeed are just “waiting,” which we consider a risky strategy. The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track approach – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

Accelerating 5G: Taking Gigabit LTE to the Masses

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Gigabit LTE (LTE networks, services and devices supporting theoretical peak speeds of a Gigabit or more) has been a big part of 5G discussions in 2017.  But it’s also – as the name implies – an evolution of LTE.  3GPP R13 LTE-Advanced Pro, to be specific.

It’s fair to ask, then, what’s the link to 5G?

While it would be technically inaccurate to position Gigabit LTE as a 5G technology, there’s no denying that it will support 5G rollouts and services.  As 5G rolls out in targeted pockets, Gigabit LTE will ensure consistent network-wide user experiences.  Likewise, as service providers investigate the specific IoT and broadband use cases 5G will support, Gigabit LTE will help them understand the options and opportunities ahead of them not to mention fundamental 5G technologies that start getting introduced into the network with Gigabit LTE.    Read more of this post

TM Forum Live! 2017: Bringing Telco IT Up to Real-Time Network Speeds

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The 2017 edition of TM Forum Live! is in Nice, France next week, and with the nature of telco IT-network interactions undergoing radical change, the ‘Live!’ suffix is more appropriate than ever.
  • NFV MANO, advanced network analytics and 5G network slice management are all hot topics with operators and vendors alike, and all play their part towards the goal of autonomous network operation.

In the same way that Mobile World Congress has steadily evolved over the years to be far more than just a mobile network event, next week’s annual TM Forum event has continued to expand. It used to be the place for ‘telco IT’ systems and carrier operation based on OSS and BSS, and if there was any direct linkage to the telecom network, it would be largely in terms of non-real time network management interactions. In fact, the nearest to ‘real time’ these network-telco IT interactions operated at was as a continuous and one-way ‘blast’ from the network to the telco IT systems delivering such things as fault reports. OSS and carrier operations staff then had to filter all these reports, prioritize them and finally decide what to do about them; that was (and largely still is) very far from real time. Now, however, everything is changing with the advent of network functions virtualization (NFV) and NFV management and orchestration (MANO). These new telco IT-network interactions must be both two-way and very close to real time for the network to remain operational at all, similar to the manner in which some modern fighter aircraft would literally fall out of the sky without automated, real-time aerodynamic trimming. Read more of this post

Accelerating 5G: Bringing NR to Reality

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Every new generation of cellular technology has come with its own, new, air interface.  5G is no different, introducing 5G New Radio (NR). And, as with so much of 5G, 2017 promises to be a big year for 5G NR.

Long before AT&T announced 5G Evolution services based on LTE technologies last week, it was clear that service provider strategies and vendor positioning, alike, include LTE technologies as new air interfaces in their 5G service and marketing plans.  With LTE continuing to evolve, its inclusion in 5G discussions makes sense (a topic we’ll come back to).  But it also begs the question of why a new air interface for 5G is necessary.  Beyond any interest in delineating a new technology with a new air interface, 5G NR promises a number of important features and functionalities: support for diverse spectrum, including low-band (sub-1 GHz), mid-band (1 to 6 GHz) and high-band, mmWave (24 GHz and up) assets; lower latency; added network capacity; improved spectral efficiency (lower cost-per-bit); improved service uniformity (EG, at cell edge); and the flexibility to support 5G’s diverse use cases (massive IoT, critical communications, and enhanced mobile broadband) with one unified design.

The 2017 Story

Against this backdrop – and a general interest in moving 5G forward – it’s not surprising that operators including AT&T, Verizon, and SKT have committed to commercial and pre-commercial 5G deployments this year incorporating mmWave spectrum and an air interface beyond LTE.  It would be wrong to call the technology used in these launches “5G NR” since these operators aren’t waiting for the 5G NR specifications to be complete.  Regardless, these launches are important, if only because they point to three key realities: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) as the first 5G use case focus; demand for moving quickly on implementing new 5G air interfaces; the progress made to date in bringing that new air interface to life. Read more of this post