The SDN/NFV topic addresses the move to improve service velocity and simply network management thanks to the introduction of software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies.
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. Continue reading “Predictive 5G Networks – A Key to Business-to-Business Success”→
• ZTE and China Telecom rapidly constructed a wireless network to transmit large images (CT scans), perform remote diagnoses and remotely connect medical professionals over a 5G network.
• The project establishes a model that could be used at other “pop-up” and established hospitals to combat COVID-19 and future viruses and help protect health care workers.
The telecom industry has hyped 5G technologies as the “be all and end all” for our networks moving forward (although 6G is now being incubated in board rooms across the globe). But, just how much of 5G is ready for prime time deployments? The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a sudden and widespread explosion in the need to support millions of workers and students videoconferencing simultaneously from home, and has created an acute need to deal with ballooning medical services.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has not given the industry or the world any time to debate and test a blueprint for how to move forward; but we have seen examples in which 5G can help. When faced with the need to react “yesterday”, adding tried-and-true technologies like fiber to deliver much needed bandwidth require significant manpower, equipment, and most importantly time – all currently in short supply. Thus, demand is likely to increase deeply for wireless network solutions to address needs of telemedicine and other critical services needed to help cope with the current crisis – and quickly set the foundational elements for moving forward to address future crises post COVID-19. Continue reading “COVID-19: 5G-Connected Hospital and Wireless Network in Ten Days”→
GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2020 predictions across mobile and fixed access, transport and routing, and telco software and services.
The predictions here represent some of the most intriguing industry trends that vendors and operators will need to track closely in the coming year.
Standalone 5G Rollouts: Mobile operators will begin to deploy standalone 5G, which doesn’t rely on an LTE core. Because the first wave of 5G, non-standalone, heavily incentivizes operators to simply add 5G to their existing 4G infrastructure, some operators will use standalone 5G as an opportunity to trial new suppliers and architectures, including virtual core suppliers and Open RAN architectures. The timing of deployments will depend in part on how quickly operators can transition their voice services, since 5G won’t offer a circuit-switch fallback option, as 4G did.
Proving 5G Value: Mobile operators will continue to struggle with proving the value of 5G mobile broadband to consumers, as indicated by recent reports of unimpressed 5G customers thus far in South Korea. At Mobile World Congress 2020 (the year that has been hailed for most of the previous decade as 5G’s arrival date), vendors will once again, for at least the third year in a row, emphasize that 5G is ‘here’ and ‘real.’ At the same time, they will also concede that the enterprise use cases at the heart of the 5G value story are still at an early stage of development.
After forming its telco business to take a piece out of the NFV cake several years ago, VMware has continued to gain momentum with CSPs.
VMware is likely to expand its presence in telco networks as its core products develop to address key cloud-native transformation priorities.
At the onset of the NFV revolution, most industry players reached a consensus that the virtualized telco of the future will become a DevOps shop, running mainly on open source software components. However, even though it may work for the largest telcos, this blueprint is far from universal – as exemplified by the telco business momentum shown by one of the largest global ISVs, VMware. At the VMworld Europe event in Barcelona on November 3-7, VMworld executives put a special emphasis on their telco business, which nowadays encompasses three primary focus areas: building the telco cloud, optimizing the edge, and optimizing the radio. VMware now counts more than 100 telco cloud and service assurance clients in production serving over 800 million mobile subscribers. Telco – the only vertical business within VMware – figured prominently in the keynotes as well, with the launch of VMware’s ‘Project Maestro’ telco cloud orchestrator as one of the main points of CEO Pat Gelsinger’s presentation. Continue reading “VMworld Europe 2019: Powering Telco Cloud-Native Transformation”→
• Deutsche Telekom’s recently announced network and service automation project using Netcracker’s Domain Orchestrator demonstrates current best practices in management and orchestration.
• The project’s early success, however, also shows how many things need to go right to execute a true network transformation.
Deutsche Telekom is unifying and automating its German transport network with a state-of-the-art technical architecture. The new approach is already reaping benefits in efficiency and speed, but DT places as much importance on the vendor’s implementation approach as it does on the technology.
Since October 8, Deutsche Telekom and Netcracker have been touting the benefits of their transport digitization. The carrier is already live with IP trunk provisioning using Netcracker’s Domain Orchestrator approach, and says that it sees unprecedented speed in the area. Soon to come are unified network discovery, visualization, and trunk provisioning across the IP and optical domains. Using a real-time active inventory, the solution provides full-lifecycle management of services. The Netcracker orchestrator interfaces directly with the IP core, and all of the IP and optical layers are combined in a common visualization domain. It is also containerized, allowing for quick configuration of services and features. Continue reading “DT’s Transport Network Transformation Works on the Harder and Softer Sides of MANO”→
The 5G Core Is Needed for Digital Transformation: The 5G core (5GC) is significantly different than its predecessor (4G/LTE); it is a service-based architecture designed to deliver on multiple new and emerging service types and support flexible new business models.
Connectivity & Computing Are Key Pillars: A robust business enablement platform, based on multi-access edge computing (MEC), is needed and must support guaranteed anytime, anywhere connectivity with ‘plug & play’ simplicity.
The Telco Cloud Completes the Business Model: Creating an agile telco cloud supports new innovative business opportunities and enables the creation and rapid turn-up of new services. The combination of telco cloud, 5G core, and MEC supports the goals of 5G.
The Importance of the 5G Core: The transition to 5G has many moving parts and requires the full transformation of the mobile core infrastructure to embrace agility, scale, and new service delivery capabilities. Over time, 5G requires the convergence of traditional network and application environments. Naturally, 5G requires a more distributed architecture (including the core and edge) to bring dramatic improvements to performance, uptime, resiliency, and the ability to support innovative new services. As the ‘control center’ for the 5G network, the core must support all generations of mobile and fixed services, adopt relevant standards, and support open source innovations that improve interoperability and speed innovation. The 5GC uses a service-based architecture (SBA) that has evolved as part of ongoing 3GPP standards initiatives and leverages a common repository and a separation between the control and user planes in order to support distributed deployment modes. The 5G core is based on cloud-native technology, which is used to develop containerized applications deployed as microservices. The lifecycle is managed via DevOps processes supporting continuous innovation (CI), continuous deployment (CD), and hitless upgrade and testing (A/B test) of new services. The 5GC will also be expected to operate in a converged mode, where all generations of mobile traffic are supported (2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G) as a unified network. Continue reading “5G Promises Great Things – But Only with a Robust 5G Core Ecosystem”→
• Converged core software solutions promise to support all generations of network traffic, reduce complexity, and deliver operational efficiency by leveraging automation and network intelligence.
• Hardware and software acceleration can dramatically improve server performance by offloading data plane traffic from servers, enabling them to focus on computation and storage functions; and open source software contributions can add consistency and optimize software processes.
• At this year’s analyst event, Huawei provided additional background on its approach to 5G core.
• Looking at the measured pace of 5G deployment expected from many operators, and the continued importance of VoLTE, Huawei has wisely stressed long-term LTE support alongside the new 5G core.
Huawei has devoted significant focus the last few months to providing the details about the architecture underpinning its common core solution, originally launched in February at MWC 2019. At its annual analyst conference last month in Shenzhen, China, Huawei provided additional details on the underlying architecture. While GlobalData has not yet rated emerging 5G core portfolios (watch this space), it appears at first blush that Huawei’s core-related R&D has resulted in a robust 5G core platform that focuses on the “three Cs”: “Cloud + Connectivity + Computing.”
All of these “Cs” are vital to the 5G core of course. A cloud-native architecture enables stateless operations and facilitates control/user plane separation. A 5G core platform must flexibly support multi-edge computing (MEC) and strike the right balance between placing computing power at the network edge and at the core. And – perhaps most importantly – the 5G core must support all of the other Gs – including 4G/LTE, 3G, and even 2G. (Ironically 2G support may emerge as more significant than 3G support as many operators appear likely to decommission 3G while maintaining 2G connectivity to support legacy M2M deployments.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of Huawei’s approach to the 5G core comes from the fact that it correctly recognizes that – for all the current 5G hype – 4G/LTE is and will continue to be the workhorse for most operator networks for the next five years. GlobalData estimates that 4G/LTE will grow to a majority of total wireless customers this year, and will continue to grow to nearly 2/3 of the total customer base by 2023. We expect that the 2G customer base will still be larger than the 5G base in 2023.
GLOBALDATA MOBILE BROADBAND FORECAST (March 2019)
One other important feature that stands out is its robust support for voice – and specifically voice over LTE. Operators of all stripes are quick to point out that, despite 20 years of speculation that voice is “going to free” – customers are still willing to pay for reliable, high-quality voice services. Eventually, that will mean 5G voice (voice over NR) but considering that 5G is likely to be deployed in a much more limited fashion than LTE for most operators, VoLTE will be the primary vehicle for most operators to transition away from circuit-switched voice services. This in turn means that IMS will continue to play a vital role in the carrier network for the next five to ten years to support VoLTE deployments.
Huawei’s strong foundation in VoLTE and IMS support plays to one of its strengths. GlobalData ranks Huawei as Leader in IMS, citing a solid customer base and success in offering virtualized IMS deployments supporting VoLTE. This should provide a solid base of customers looking to balance the desire for new 5G services with the need to maintain solid 4G core support for the foreseeable future.
Both 4G and 5G will co-evolve in mobile operator networks for years.
Even standalone 5G will coexist alongside 4G/5G networks, as operators further monetize 4G investments.
For some time now, the telecom industry has been heralding the dawn of the 5G era, the time when operators are deploying 5G networks and launching 5G services. But, it would be more accurate to say we’re at the dawn of the 4G/5G era, as this is what operators are actually deploying. Both technologies will co-evolve in operator networks for years. And as operators ramp up 5G network investment, they can’t neglect LTE. Continue reading “We’re Not Entering the 5G Era; This Is the Age of 4G/5G”→