Predictive 5G Networks – A Key to Business-to-Business Success

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • COVID-19 Drives Network Imperatives: The pandemic has created a need for new and innovative contactless business applications to support a remote workforce and clients. Vendor solutions can ease the impact of COVID-19 by delivering on the following:

5G Business-to-Business: Support multiple new service types and provide flexible business-to-business applications which leverage automation, multi-service, and deterministic network services.

Automation + Carrier-Grade Connectivity: Network solutions must guarantee ‘anytime, anywhere’ connectivity, with operational simplicity through solutions that automate services, freeing them from manual processes.

Full Service Lifecycle: Deliver a diverse range of services capabilities with SLA assurance for multiple technologies, over a sliced network infrastructure supported for the full service lifecycle.

  • Vendor Solutions Are Here: Although part of the 5G vision from the beginning, the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated vendors to combine technologies along with business needs to deliver integrated solutions to the market.

Establishing 5G Network Priorities: 5G business-to-business solutions require agility, scale, and new service delivery and management capabilities. 5G requires a distributed architecture to bring dramatic improvements to performance, uptime, resiliency, and the ability to support innovative new business services. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a need for an end-to-end solution that can minimize people-people interactions and automate network functions for efficiency and time to market.

Automation + Carrier-Grade Infrastructure: Operators must provide the connectivity + computing capabilities at the network edge, support new business models, and provide automated network functions to reduce manual errors and improve OpEx. Initiatives by service providers illustrate the importance of edge computing and automation as essential components for unlocking the benefits of 5G. Automation must span the full service delivery lifecycle, beginning with network planning and carried through to service operation.

One Network with Slices for All: An agile telco network that supports innovative business opportunities and enables the creation and rapid turn-up of new services needs a flexible but deterministic infrastructure. Operators need to deploy private networks as well as cloud-based networks, under a common management (5G Common Core) umbrella. 5G solutions need to support multiple access technologies including IP and Ethernet and a flexible multi-path offloading strategy.

Addressing Business Services: Operators need to extend basic infrastructure services (connectivity everywhere) to the enterprise in order to capture the full promise of 5G. Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2B2C) services leverage operator investments in infrastructure to deliver services normally provided by over-the-top (OTT) players. The new service model follows a typical IT-like approach, but fully integrated with communications technology (CT).

Deterministic Service Delivery: 5G networks must provide a range of services capabilities with SLA assurance. Service assurance must be present at all levels of the architecture and support stringent timing requirements (time-sensitive networking [TSN]), support the latest IP technologies (MPLS, segment routing), and deliver the bandwidth and service quality based on the application’s service agreements (SLA).

New 5G business-to-business use cases represent true market opportunities in vertical markets like utilities, automotive, and healthcare, all lucrative targets. Tools, development aids, plug-and-play, and automated maintenance are critical.

Conclusions:
GlobalData’s research suggests telcos are seen as the preferred partner for delivering 5G-enabled enterprise solutions. However, capitalizing on this positioning will require the operators to establish business community partnerships to champion 5G use cases and facilitate system integration. Operators should seek solutions that leverage dynamic slicing and edge-based capabilities (MEC) to deliver on a broad set of applications.

  • Operators should evaluate vendor solutions that address the three primary pillars needed in a 5G network – a fully automated and intelligent infrastructure, free from complexity and high cost, and one that can be tailored to the unique demands of enterprise applications.
  • Operators should consider end-to-end solutions that are comprised of a 5G core, edge services (MEC) and multi-cloud support, and support for ‘as-a-service’ options in order to move quickly to deliver services needed during the COVID-19 pandemic; time is of the essence.
  • Operators should look for network solutions that deliver predictable and assured services with connectivity everywhere over any connection type; enterprise use cases span customer premises, edge data center, and cloud deployment models.
  • Operators should also consider openness and support of applicable 5G standards in order to accommodate inclusion of third-party business applications and a broad ecosystem for rapid deployment.
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