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?”→
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”→
In the run-up to 5G launches, new shared and unlicensed spectrum usage is helping to open up new business models for mobile operators.
Beyond the development of technologies like LTE-U, LAA, CBRS and MulteFire, development of the ecosystems around those technologies and examples of how they can be commercially put to use will drive their success.
To date, most commercial, mobile wireless services have been built on a foundation of licensed spectrum. Going forward, 5G won’t change that.
Where the next generation of wireless technology requires a massive technology investment, mobile operators will want the network quality and availability assurances (not to mention competitive advantages) that licensed spectrum delivers. 5G will, however, bring an understanding that new spectrum access regimes are required that are tailored to the availability of spectrum, tailored to the requirements of the digital industries being targeted, and tailored to the opportunity to improve the efficiency of spectrum usage in unlicensed and shared spectrum bands. Continue reading “Accelerating 5G: Unleashing New Spectrum via Sharing”→
“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. Continue reading “TU Automotive 2017: More Ecosystems than a Coral Reef”→
On the proverbial “Road to 5G,” you might think that 2017 is just another year, taking us just a little closer to the commercial 5G networks and services we’ve all heard will arrive in 2020. You would be wrong, on multiple fronts.
First off, the analogy itself is somewhat flawed. 5G is not a finish line being raced towards; just like 4G LTE, the technology will evolve long after initial services debut, with most operators launching services at their own pace. Perhaps more importantly, the earliest commercial service and network launches won’t be coming in 2020. They’ll arrive sooner. An extreme eagerness to get 5G up and running across the world means that we will see large-scale 5G NR (the global 5G standard) based services starting in 2019 along with pre-5G NR efforts starting as soon as the end of this year. One year sooner than originally expected may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re talking about the development of new technologies and new ecosystems, it’s massive. Continue reading “Accelerating 5G: The Pivotal Role of 2017”→