Peter is Vice President for the Current Analysis Consumer and Infrastructure services. Peter and his analyst team monitor and evaluate activities in the markets for Consumer Services and Devices, Digital Media, Fixed Access, IP Services, Mobile Access, and Transport and Routing Infrastructure, Telecom Vendor Services, and overall coverage of the Mobile Ecosystem.
On December 5-6, Amdocs held an Industry Analyst Summit to provide an update on its product portfolio, corporate strategy, innovation efforts, and customer attraction across its business lines.
One constant across the product and business line updates is an expectation that telecom networks and services will continue to get increasingly complicated – and that Amdocs will benefit by addressing that complexity and educating its customers.
Amdocs is a fixture in telecom networking and service enablement. It’s not surprising, then, that across our telecom networks research, assessments on the vendor and its positioning are plentiful, including:
As a concept for running diverse logical networks over a common physical infrastructure, network slicing has been linked closely to 5G network transformations and 5G’s aspirations of servicing the needs of consumers alongside myriad industries.
As it gets put into practice, however, a number of questions around slicing still need to be resolved: How granular will slices be? Which networks and network elements will be sliced? How open will slicing be to third parties? What can network prioritization teach us? Most of these questions revolve around business considerations, not technology considerations.
The basic tenets of 5G are well understood: what we’ll use it for, when it will arrive, that it will be a major opportunity with a solid base of subscriptions within the next five years.
A number of other commonly held beliefs about 5G – that it will drive business innovation and core network transformations, introduce network slicing and represent a platform for spectrum innovation – must be questioned.
Last week, the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley convened a forum on “Network Transformation in 5G.” We had the honor of delivering the opening presentation. You can view a copy of it here.
AT&T announced that it is building an “Edge Computing Test Zone” in Palo Alto, Calif to support developers and other AT&T partners in rolling out a diverse set of edge applications.
Given AT&T’s support for edge computing, the move isn’t surprising. However, it does raise questions about the set of use cases highlighted, and a specific call-out to wireless networks as well as the lack of any reference to network slicing are disappointing.
In very real terms, then, there’s nothing wrong with AT&T’s forthcoming “Test Zone” in Palo Alto, California. It aligns with AT&T’s interests and makes sense for any carrier planning to integrate edge computing into its network architecture in the future. It’s a good idea; getting developers engaged is critical for ensuring that they will be ready to support AT&T’s network evolution plans with compelling applications. But it also falls short in a number of fundamental ways. Continue reading “What’s Wrong with AT&T’s Silicon Valley Edge Computing Test Zone?”→
This week, ZTE announced 5G network testing trials in Europe with Wind Tre and Orange, building on previous high-profile work with Telefonica and Telenet.
Financial stability when compared with its European vendor counterparts could explain the success, but the story goes much deeper, including the right 5G strategy and targeted marketing.
This week, ZTE announced its Q3 2017 earnings. For the most part, the results weren’t too surprising. Revenues for the first nine months of 2017 were up (though down in Q3 2017 compared to 2016). Profits were up significantly. The company did not report on the geographic makeup of its revenues, but if they resembled the vendor’s mid-year results, it’s safe to assume that China continues to the biggest contributor to ZTE’s sales; it was ~60% of mid-year revenues and the most profitable of the reported regions. Continue reading “ZTE’s European Success: What’s the Story?”→
• This week, the Small Cell Forum announced a set of new members as well as a newly elected Board.
• A shifting Board composition focused on service providers vs. vendors is a good sign, particularly the presence of tower and in-building deployment specialists; ultimately, they’re the companies who will be deploying small cells – or not.
When the Small Cell Forum announced new members and a newly elected Board, the news could easily have been ignored or seen as nothing more than “business as usual.” After all, a new Board is elected every year, and considering the various parts of the network that small cells touch, it’s only natural for a wide array of companies to be involved in the Forum’s activities.
But looking to the composition of the new Board tells an important story.
Broadly, the companies on the Board can be divided into three groups:
• Vendors that develop small cells and supporting network gear.
• Supporters – like Qualcomm and Node-H – that provide software and silicon components powering small cell technologies and services.
• Service providers delivering wireless services out to consumers and enterprises as well as those in the deployment services and siting business.
And, when looking at the composition of the 2016 vs. 2017 Board, a handful of encouraging facts emerge.
• Better Balance. With 60% of the Small Cell Forum board composed of vendors last year, it was clearly over-weighted. You could argue that this is only logical since small cell vendors have the best understanding of the technologies at play and have the greatest exposure to diverse customer demands. Circa 2017, however, a more balanced set of board members promises to help in capturing a more diverse set of market views and requirements in guiding the work of the Forum.
• Balance Where it Matters. Where the composition of the board shifted dramatically is on the service provider front. Small cell vendors will have their own agendas, but service providers will always be closer to market demands and the ways in which small cells will get deployed.
• The SPs that Matter. The definition of “service provider” here extends beyond carriers who deliver services out to consumer or enterprise end-users. The category also includes companies who deploy small cells for carriers – and they constitute 50% of the service providers on the Forum’s Board. Why is that important? Small cell technology is still evolving, but is fairly mature; the technology isn’t a check on market growth. But deployment dynamics – the time, cost and effort to get small cells deployed – could be. Whether indoors or out, they factor into the small cell RoI. To be sure, SPs like AT&T, Reliance Jio and Softbank understand those dynamics. But, if carrier-neutral deployments are seen as important to moving the market forward, a different set of services providers need to be included. Service providers like American Tower, Crown Castle and Extenet.
It would be naïve to think that an evolution of the Small Cell Forum’s Board would lead to massive new market growth. But, if the Forum’s leadership is meant to reflect the state of the industry and include the companies who understand its issues, the evolution of the Board is a good sign, highlighting shifts in the industry and signaling that the Forum is responding.
Ongoing questions around CBRS priority access license (PAL) terms suggest that licenses won’t likely be available until a year from now.
Without priority access, CBRS will still roll out; many use cases don’t require it. However, the sooner PAL terms are decided on and licenses auctioned, the better it will be for driving the industry forward.
The concept of marketing new technologies or solutions around use cases seems like a logical way to link deployment to real world carrier requirements and opportunities.
Use case marketing is also a not-so-subtle way to suggest that competitor messaging is based on hype more than reality, in the process flagging areas where a vendor potentially sees itself at a perceived competitive disadvantage it needs to counter.
Over the past year, the stock performance of ZTE and Ericsson has diverged, with ZTE’s share price up almost 60% over a year ago and Ericsson down almost 20%.
With Ericsson being a traditional telecom networking leader and ZTE just outside the top three players in the market, their stock performance tells a broader story about the market’s view of telecom and market concentration.
While the core use cases for 5G are well understood (enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT, mission critical communications), it’s important to remember that a core objective of those use cases is enabling digital industries – helping service providers target vertical markets and not just broad swaths of consumers and enterprises.
Initial 5G specifications may be focused on enabling enhanced mobile broadband, but we’re already seeing how digital transformation will unfold thanks to LTE technologies like Cat-M and NB-IoT.
Today’s discussions of 5G, more often than not, focus on the core use cases promised by the technology and the new services they will enable. Where early messaging scrambled to define 5G objectives broadly, narrowing them down is a welcome development, if only to ensure a common understanding of what 5G will focus on: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive IoT (massive machine type communications – MTC), mission-critical communications (ultra-reliable low-latency communications, URLLC). Continue reading “Accelerating 5G: Leveraging IoT to Create Digital Industries”→