2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the Mobile Access Sector This Year

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Open RAN and virtual RAN (vRAN) ecosystems will continue to develop incrementally in 2021 without dramatic change.

• New RAN activity will heat up in India, aided by national self-reliance goals and Open RAN trends.

A global pandemic and its associated lockdowns, quarantines, and economic impacts made the world glad to say goodbye to 2020, despite the fact that the same forces will continue to shape 2021. In turn, as we try to predict what 2021 will be like in the mobile access networks industry, we can find some indicators in the events of 2020.

Here are our three best guesses for the mobile access networks space in 2021: Continue reading “2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the Mobile Access Sector This Year”

5G Services: Embracing 5G’s Benefits While Taming Its Complexity

Andy Hicks, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Carriers are coming face to face with 5G’s increased scale and complexity as well as the need to monetize network investments by developing many more services than before.
  • To design, deploy, and operate 5G networks profitably, carriers will need to increase automation, adopt AI, and select the right ecosystem partners.

With the July 2020 completion of 3GPP Release 16, we now have the first round of specifications for a full, end-to-end 5G network. Most wireless carriers have started to plan their journey to 5G, and a few are already providing 5G SA connections. During every stage of this journey, carriers are coming face to face with 5G’s increased complexity: more network nodes to install and maintain, more parameters to adjust, and more services to design and operate. Continue reading “5G Services: Embracing 5G’s Benefits While Taming Its Complexity”

Mavenir’s In-House Radio Units Show Open RAN Ecosystem’s Growing Pains

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite its software-centric vision and hardware partner ecosystem, Mavenir offers its own radio hardware.
  • This can be seen largely as reflective of a young, still-growing ecosystem and Mavenir’s mission to prove out the vRAN/Open RAN model.

Mavenir may have surprised some attendees at its annual analyst event last month when it touted an array of new hardware-based mobile access products: three new macrocell radio units (RUs) and an enterprise small-cell solution with its own distributed radio units. That’s because Mavenir has long been focused on virtual RAN (vRAN) and Open RAN – running RAN software on general-purpose servers and using RUs from an array of other vendors. It is committed to a vision of being a software, not hardware, provider. And at the same event, Mavenir noted it currently has 11 partners supplying Open RAN radio hardware. Continue reading “Mavenir’s In-House Radio Units Show Open RAN Ecosystem’s Growing Pains”

SD-WAN for the Cloud Era: Enterprise Priorities and Telco Opportunities

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN adoption is growing and the number of vendors in the market stays high, but the architecture of SD-WAN mimics legacy WAN infrastructures, not necessarily aligning with public cloud adoption trends and evolving traffic patterns in the enterprise.
  • SD-WAN solutions need to evolve by adding capabilities that align with enterprise ‘cloud-first’ priorities and allow operators to use their edge infrastructure as a competitive differentiator.

The history of SD-WAN started with the first solutions designed to offer enterprises a way of building secure and controlled WAN environments, without resorting to costly and often scarce telco services like MPLS. The market has grown to dozens of vendors, and most telecommunication operators offer one or more SD-WAN solutions in their portfolio. But the development of the market so far has brought to light two main shortcomings of most SD-WAN solutions, affecting enterprise users and telco operators, respectively: Continue reading “SD-WAN for the Cloud Era: Enterprise Priorities and Telco Opportunities”

CableLabs and SCTE/ISBE to Merge as Insular Cable Industry Consolidates

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • CableLabs and SCTE/ISBE signed a letter of intent to combine, with the process likely to be finalized in December with the expected endorsement by thousands of SCTE/ISBE members.
  • The move marks yet another sign of cable industry consolidation, itself a product of impending cable MSO technological transformation.

The two largest R&D engineering houses focused on innovations for cable operators announced plans in November to join forces.  CableLabs, whose membership comprises only cable system operators in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and Australia, announced it will align with the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers/International Society of Broadband Experts (SCTE/ISBE), which represents both operators and vendors.  In point of fact, the two bodies have complemented each other’s work for a long time.  The merger is supposed to bring the two constituencies closer together and accelerate the pace of commercialization of new standards – primarily the impending introduction of symmetrical 10 Gbps services (or 10G for short).  After the combination, SCTE/ISBE will become a subsidiary of CableLabs on January 1, 2021.  The activities of the two organizations will continue virtually unchanged though, and SCTE/ISBE will continue to offer memberships to potential members not affiliated with CableLabs. The combination signifies that the already insular cable industry is coming even closer together.  However, as the technology landscape outside of the cable ecosystem changes rapidly, further focusing of the cable sector might not be the most important change the industry needs.  A number of technical and non-technical challenges will continue to loom: Continue reading “CableLabs and SCTE/ISBE to Merge as Insular Cable Industry Consolidates”

Who’s Winning the Wireless Private Network Race?

Kitty Weldon – Research Director

Summary Bullets:

  • There has been a small but meaningful trickle of news on private wireless (cellular) network deployments over the last couple of years from a cast of characters ranging from CSPs to equipment vendors, SIs, and enterprises themselves. The latest CBRS auction has also uncovered likely new entrants, including companies that lack their own cellular networks or want to own and manage their own deployments.
  • Interest in providing private wireless networks is not new; after all, this is essentially what WiFi has been providing all along. But using 4G LTE and 5G (over licensed, unlicensed, or ‘lightly regulated’ spectrum) for these networks is creating excitement from a wide swath of the telecom market. Will companies buy it?

GlobalData has been tracking the private wireless network market for several years because it is potentially a major disruptive technology. It promises to partially displace WiFi and wireline connectivity – at least for those use cases that need more consistent signal strength, security, higher speeds, and lower latency, with support for in-building, campus, and hybrid environments such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, sports stadiums, mines, oil and gas fields, ports, airports, and other transportation hubs. Continue reading “Who’s Winning the Wireless Private Network Race?”

COVID-19: Delay in 5G Standards Will Mean Delay in 5G Innovation

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • The 3GPP announced that it is likely to see a significant delay in completing Release 17 standards governing 5G technology.
  • The delay – likely to be a minimum of six months and possibly longer – will put a damper on dozens of work items designed to enable transformative 5G services.

The body responsible for developing the standards governing 5G technology has signaled that its inability to meet in person is causing a slowdown in developing new technical standards.

The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) announced September 21 that it is expecting a delay in 5G standards of a minimum six months – and potentially longer. That in turn is likely to delay the deployment of many of the innovative use cases envisioned for 5G. Continue reading “COVID-19: Delay in 5G Standards Will Mean Delay in 5G Innovation”

Next-Gen Transport and Routing: Key for 5G Success

Emir Halilovic, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • 5G transport needs to provide enough capacity, but it also needs to cater to vertical 5G use cases with high-precision and low-latency connections, provided on intelligent infrastructure.
  • Another key issue that operators will need to tackle is 5G transport diversity and complexity; as 5G radio site types diversify, operators will need to build more diverse transport networks to cover all types of sites in their network.

In the first wave of 5G deployments, operators and other players in the telecommunications ecosystem have focused primarily on innovation in radio access, allowing for key improvements next-gen radio brings to existing services like mobile broadband. But as operators start to focus on truly game-changing 5G functionality that will enable IIoT and other advanced use cases, the importance of rebuilding and rethinking transport networks for 5G becomes very clear. Continue reading “Next-Gen Transport and Routing: Key for 5G Success”

Telefonica Germany-AWS Affiliation Points to a Much Greater Role for Public Cloud in 5G Mobile Core

Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Telefonica Germany / O2 plans to build its 5G core network in the AWS public cloud, along with a host of 5G network functions to support Industrial Internet applications, beginning in 2021.

• The announcement raises intriguing questions about the future role that AWS and other public cloud platforms may be carving out in telecommunications infrastructure, and who will ultimately succeed in helping operators manage – and profit from – 5G network deployments.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced on September 2 that Telefonica Germany / O2 would become the first German network operator to build a 5G core network in the public cloud, along with a host of 5G network functions to support Industrial Internet applications. Telefónica Germany / O2 will put its cloud-based, Ericsson-supplied 5G core network into commercial use in 2021. Continue reading “Telefonica Germany-AWS Affiliation Points to a Much Greater Role for Public Cloud in 5G Mobile Core”

Can ONF Bring Open Source to the RAN? ORAN and vRAN Make the Timing Right to Try

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has launched a ‘Software-Defined Radio Access Network’ project aimed at developing open-source RAN solutions using an ‘app store’ model for network optimization features.
  • This effort will be helped by the open RAN (ORAN) and virtual RAN (vRAN) movements now gaining steam, but it will also confront some of the same hurdles facing open RAN – including opposition from incumbent major vendors.

The Open Networking Foundation – a group that promotes open-source networking technologies – announced a ‘Software-Defined Radio Access Network’ project aimed at developing open-source RAN solutions. Continue reading “Can ONF Bring Open Source to the RAN? ORAN and vRAN Make the Timing Right to Try”