by Vinay Devadatta, Practice Head Innovation & Industry Relations on April, 2019
At Digital Transformation World in Nice this May, we hear from Vinay Devadatta, Practice Head – Innovation & Industry Relations, Wipro, about the many facets of 5G challenges and solutions. Read some of his insights below before the big event.
In the year 1861, the first commercial telegraph service replaced the popular Pony Express as the means of communication. The many technological changes since have enabled communication service providers (CSPs) to serve a wide variety of customers. However, until the advent of 5G, the role and scope of what CSPs could do for their customers was limited, excluding them from being a key part of their clients’ value chain.
While the 5G hype is mostly focused on low latency and high bandwidth, the decision to deploy 5G is based on a wider range of needs:
Differentiated communication service – Capability to provide services which are aligned to specific consumption needs (e.g. bandwidth, Quality of Service (QoS), availability, cos).
Guarantee of Service – Can specifically provide service guarantees rather than the current best-effort approach. While not all services may need service guarantees, the ability to provide this opens up a new genre of consumers.
Seamless connectivity – Consumers can rely on end-to-end communication across technological as well as CSP boundaries. 5G enables consumers to transparently consume communication services even if it has to be rendered by, say, a mix of wireless and satellite communication.
Ubiquitous presence – 5G is expected to provide coverage beyond what is available today through innovation means and seamlessly integrating with a variety of localized communication systems.
All this is possible due to advances and innovative concepts like network function virtualization (NFV), software defined networking (SDN), Massive MIMO and mobile edge computing (MEC). However, to deploy and monetize these capabilities, various segments of the communications industry will need to go through a substantial shift in their approach to their offerings to the industry:
- The front face of transformation would be the CSPs which need to transform and move beyond their traditional boundaries. CSPs will need to actively engage with other industry verticals. The hype of 5G has drawn in industries like healthcare, banking, agriculture and many more nearer to the communication arena. However, CSPs will need to proactively understand the core business processes and models to co-discover new avenues for simplification, efficiency and innovation. They need to make it easy for other industries to integrate their systems with the communications industry.
- The network equipment provider (NEPs) delivers the network which forms the backbone on which the communication services are rendered. Their equipment are designed to meet the highly specialized needs of the traditional communications industry. With the scope being redefined, communication equipment should augment their offerings with seamless integration for the equipment of other industries. A true immersive experience is possible only when all compatibility and alignment issues are handled right from the designing stage.
- Today, CSPs heavily rely on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) for efficient management of their resources. COTS companies that provide management software such as operations and business support systems (OSS/BSS) should also be able to process non-telco information, and share management information and control with third parties securely. Also, OSS/BSS products will need to internally transform to satisfy the possibility of multiple parallel business models running at the same time, and catering to a wide variety of consumers.
- System integrators (SIs) have been the glue that brings together different segment offerings for deployable solutions. Effective 5G deployments across verticals require SIs to develop knowledge beyond the communications industry, to ensure a smooth experience for pioneering companies in other industries that take the first steps of leveraging 5G.
- The scope of 5G and its abilities to provide distinct services come with the downside of breakup of available spectrum into specialized slices. Also, these services may need specialized equipment which may not be fully utilized all the time. This, in turn, will eventually drive up the cost of these services. To mitigate the rise in cost, new business models may evolve where specialized resources are provided by third parties and shared by competitors. These will require such third providers to make their resources available in a standard and secure way.
- Without the standardization that has been carried out at various levels viz. network, management, today, the communication industry would have been highly segmented and siloed. However, the standardization scope has been restricted to the communication industry. To enable widespread monetization of 5G, standardization exercise will need to consider the consumption pattern of communication services.
These are just some of the segments that the communications industry will need to transform to monetize the multi-trillion dollar opportunities predicted for 5G. The transformation required is not superficial and will need well thought out strategies right from design time, so as to manage and efficiently deploy the available resources to facilitate the needs of the various industries.