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”→
• Webscales, ICPs, and enterprises are using DCI solutions to provide high-quality, practically unlimited connectivity for their data centers, while controlling their costs through building up their own infrastructure.
• DCI vendors need to develop their solutions considering not only the connection capacity requirements, but also the increasing demands on O&M simplification, intelligence, and security.
DCI solutions have evolved, driven by the incessant growth of cloud, which will continue well into the future. According to GlobalData’s market sizing and forecast, the global cloud ecosystem expanded 24% in 2018 and reached US$ 290 billion; it will continue to grow with CAGR of 25.3% over the forecast period, reaching US$720 billion in 2022. The first use for DCI has been in providing point-to-point connectivity for large centralized data centers. But as data centers keep getting deployed throughout the network footprint – all the way to the network edge itself in edge computing installations – the demand for simple, high-performance optical solutions keep growing as well. Continue reading “Transforming Enterprise Optical Transport with Data Center Interconnect (DCI)”→
• 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.
• Gogo announced it will build out an air-to-ground 5G network supported by 250 towers in the U.S. Gogo expects the network to be available for business and commercial aviation in 2021, at which time all the major U.S. operators will be on their way to widespread 5G.
• Unfortunately, the number of customers that will benefit from 5G will remain small, and in many cases “elite.” Gogo continues to see strong ATG traction in the private jet segment, and those jets will be the first to benefit from Gogo’s new 5G network.
Gogo, which provides in-flight WiFi, announced plans to build a 5G network to support in-flight services. However, despite the headline, it’s clear from the announcement that most air travelers won’t see the benefit anytime soon.
Gogo announced in May that it will build out an air-to-ground 5G network supported by 250 towers in the U.S. Gogo expects the network to be available for business and commercial aviation in 2021, which aligns well with mobile operator deployment plans. All the major U.S. network operators, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint (alone or as part of T-Mobile USA if that proposed merger is consummated) are likely to be well on their way with 5G deployments by then. Continue reading “5G is Coming to Planes but Probably Not Yours Anytime Soon”→
• 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.
WiFi continues to enjoy near-ubiquitous penetration of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. However, improved cellular speeds enabled by LTE may be creating an inflection point.
In looking at how 5G and WiFi are evolving to face emerging market requirements, significant changes are likely that will strengthen 5G’s value proposition in a number of use cases.
Two conferences offering significantly different visions for the future of ‘local’ wireless are poised to take place the week of May 21. In London, the Small Cell Forum will be showcasing a largely cellular-centric view focused on 5G densification and the regulatory challenges implied therein. In Atlanta, the Wireless Broadband Alliance will hone in on the role of WiFi 6 within the 5G era. The simultaneous timing of these two conferences, while unintentional, certainly underscores the increasing questions being asked by operators and network equipment vendors on the optimal role of WiFi and 5G technologies. Continue reading “Cellular and WiFi Figuring Out Their 5G Identities”→