How 5G Relates to SDN and NFV Technologies Part 4: 2019 5G Takeaways So Far
In this final blog in the Introduction to 5G Series, I wanted to take a different approach and analyze where we are in the 5G journey now that the major telco events for the 1H2019 year are behind us. The Mobile World Congress 2019 at Barcelona ended in March, the Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and the Big 5G event, which moved from Austin to Denver, just concluded a few days ago.
So, what are the big takeaways for 5G and how does it relate to the technologies we’ve been talking about?
As someone who has attended these events for several years in a row, I think there is a more optimistic and cheerful mood. This is clearly because 2019 is the year 5G services are being officially launched and we can finally get our hands on some really cool 5G devices!
But hang on.
There is a question of readiness in terms of what organizations, vendors and service providers need to do to accommodate 5G-enabling technologies. Let’s review what’s involved.
Adapting Strategies and Processes to 5G-enabling Technologies
In addition to technology changes, companies need to think about people and processes. Both vendors and service providers alike must take this opportunity to evolve their internal operational processes to discover new ways of cooperation and sharing expertise between IT operations and networking groups, breaking through the silos like, DevOps and Industry 4.0. I am talking about changing the strategies and processes to utilize all the 5G-enabling technologies beyond New Radio (NR), including programmable networks (SDN), smart security, intelligent analytics tools, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), M2M (Machine to Machine), IOE (Internet of everything), etc. See the other blogs in this series to learn more.
5G Deployments Will Be a Slow Burn, Not a Big Bang
Every Mobile Service Provider (MSP) seems to agree that the rollout of 5G will be a slow burn and many doubts and questions remain. Sure, the 5G terminals are launching this year (Samsung is already selling its Galaxy 5G) and many cities will offer 5G services but mass adoption, country wide coverage and clear use cases (beyond bandwidth for increased data consumption) for the game changing technology—that is, URLLC—will take some more time.
It’s clear LTE/4G will still remain the workhorse for years to come.
Plenty of use cases were presented at the 5G events, things like: self-driving cars (Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything or C-V2X), smart cities and spaces, smart agriculture, etc. but some analyst and consumers believe that although the what is clear, the how isn’t. Moreover, use cases could be more clarified and specified.
5G’s Effect on Vertical Markets and Cloud Companies
Another takeaway from the 5G events is everybody seems to agree on there will be future revenue growth potential for vertical markets as 5G adoption expands, very much needed as current consumer markets have plateaued.
We are also seeing a push for providers and operators to embrace the public cloud. Sure there will always be private and hybrid clouds, but we can see a clear tendency where the major public cloud platform companies are ready and willing to work, collaborate and partner with other communications industry players such as the big public cloud companies Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
Verizon (V) and Off-Premises Cloud Platforms
One example of such strategies is what Verizon (V) has done in launching its Visible Phone Service, offering unlimited BYOD (Bring Your Own device) LTE smartphone data, text and calls for just $40, being entirely managed and run by off-premises cloud platforms. Verizon offers this service because of the cost savings attained in breaking down the wall between the network and existing OSS/BSS systems.
In the words of Adil Belihomji, Head of Visible engineering:
Right after the handoff from the cell tower, from there on, everything that you see, which is the IMS core, is in the cloud. The OSS/BSS structure is all in the cloud…It’s built in a way that’s truly digital-native[i].
But Verizon is not alone, we can see that AT&T is working with Microsoft Azure to develop its Edge computing strategy, and Telefonica is openly collaborating with Microsoft Azure, looking for new opportunities in the “Smart Home” market and edge. They are co-developing with Microsoft Aura, an AI-embedded big data customer management platform.
We can see huge MIMO antennas units that include radiating elements and radio units appearing on the landscape. As such, established passive antenna manufacturers are requiring partnerships with radio vendors to produce these units and vice-versa, the radio vendors need antenna expertise. Ericsson bought the telco arm of Kathrein for a reason. Also, CommScope and Nokia have partnered to create active-passive antennas as well as RFS and Blue Danube.
Lastly, I want to point out we are seeing a lot of relatively new vendors in the telco space generating a lot of headlines, getting a piece of the market and building momentum. I am talking about companies like Blinq Networks, Mavenir and parallel wireless, bringing a lot of new competition to the established giants like Nokia, Ericsson or Huawei.
We have exciting times ahead of us for the years to come!
In case you missed Parts I, II and III of the series, you can find them here: