Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

 

April 21, 2022

5G rollout will open new opportunities

The benefits of 5G for networks and their customers are indisputable. Industry experts say that 5G will be 10x faster than existing 4G networks. In fact, standalone 5G networks can provide Gigabit-class speeds as fast as fiber connections. And 5G will not only deliver faster mobile data speeds, but also provide significant enhancements to network flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. Plus, private 5G presents the opportunity for service providers to cater to enterprise clients by delivering advanced Industry 4.0 use cases. As OEMs launch 5G-ready devices, some operators are beginning to deploy next-gen networks, while others are still looking for ways to ensure faster 5G rollout. What’s holding them back, and how can they expedite their 5G launch?

Operator challenges in launching 5G

5G technology has made significant progress on several fronts over the last few years. There are more 5G-compatible devices in the market like the iPhone 12 and home routers. Wireless RAN infrastructure and cloud technologies have been developed to support next-gen capabilities. And the foundation for a potentially rich business ecosystem of partnerships is also emerging. But adoption is still in the nascent stage.
Operators today have a host of concerns in transitioning their networks to 5G, which include:

  • Reluctance to make the massive investment required for wide 5G coverage.
  • Lack of spectrum availability in many regions and local regulatory challenges.
  • Low prevalence of 5G devices, meaning operators may not be able to upsell consumers.
  • Technical complications in implementing 5G alongside an existing LTE network, as it would lead to complex network infrastructure that presents difficulties in management and high maintenance costs.

How operators can swiftly launch 5G

Using a combination of mid-band and low-band spectrum

While multi-gigabit 5G speeds are seen only on high-band spectrum (mmWave), many operators have proven success in using sub-6 spectrum in low bands and mid bands for a 5G launch on a wider scale. Using a combination of spectrum in low bands and mid bands also promises larger geographical coverage with higher bandwidth. This approach will result in a balanced 5G network that is faster than 4G, ensuring the best performance indoors and outdoors.

Following a two-phase NSA approach

Technically called the eUTRA-NR Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) approach, this will allow operators to reuse and leverage their existing resources, keeping the promise of 5G intact. The 5G radio (gNodeB) can connect to the EPC (the LTE core), enabling implementation of a 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) deployment. This approach will immediately enable the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) use case. Voice calls will be sent over the 4G network using EPS fallback.

Issue eSIMs instead of physical SIM cards

eSIM or embedded SIM is the electronic form of a physical SIM card. eSIMs are mounted permanently to a device. A user can digitally add plans from cellular operators to their eSIM without having to physically replace the SIM card. The eSIM not only improves design flexibility, it also allows the operator to digitally distribute subscriptions in bulk. It will enable faster time-to-market for operators, as a 5G eSIM can be simply delivered in the form of a QR code via email, making it much easier to distribute than physical SIMs.

Most major operators now support eSIMs. The number of mobile devices that support them is steadily growing, and will soon be far more widespread.

Prioritize network virtualization

Arguably the best thing about 5G is its cloud-native architecture. A virtualized 5G RAN and core can reside on generic commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, eliminating dependence on proprietary hardware vendors. This approach is much more flexible and cost-efficient as it will allow operators to scale up hardware resources with increasing user traffic. A 4G virtualized RAN can enable 5G with only a software update. Enhancements to network functions can be delivered via software patches. Operators will benefit significantly from virtualizing their 4G networks on priority, as it will enable a hassle-free, easier, faster 5G rollout.

Begin with private 5G networks

Private 5G is a dedicated and standalone next-gen cellular network best suitable for relatively smaller and more confined areas like universities, airports, campuses, buildings, and more. This private network can be launched in a matter of weeks with a limited resource footprint. It provides higher bandwidth to enable all 5G business use cases over a secure and private connection for different Industry 4.0 applications. A specialized compact core makes the installation easier and faster.

Enabling private 5G networks for enterprise clients is the best fit for operators who want to soft launch a real-world 5G network on a smaller scale before moving forward with a more large-scale launch.

Forge partnerships to improve the device ecosystem

Even though 5G launches are rapidly progressing around the world, the device ecosystem is still limited. Though most of the mid-range smartphones launched in 2021 support 5G, many users still need to upgrade their existing devices to experience 5G. What operators can do here is partner with OEMs to offer 5G mobile phones and Mi-Fi devices at a subsidized price to drive consumer interest. Trade-in programs will also help. This will enable operators to gain major traction for a faster 5G rollout and drive competition around the market.

Conclusion

With its cloud-first architecture, high bandwidth, and low latency, 5G has been emerging as a platform that will drive innovation in various sectors like healthcare, automobiles, logistics, massive IoT, and more. Industrial IoT and mission-critical use cases will benefit from the always-on and real-time connectivity of this next-gen network.

Early 5G rollout will give operators more time and opportunities to explore new use cases. In an increasingly competitive and dynamically changing market, the first-mover advantage is key.

Alepo’s industry-leading 5G Core solutions enable swift and easy deployment, provide a low resource footprint, and ensure standards-compliant infrastructure for a scalable and future-proof network. They enable operators to generate more revenue from avenues that were previously unexplored in telecom. Partnering with leading technology partners, Alepo delivers end-to-end 5G solutions that have enabled commercial success for over a dozen real-world deployments globally.

Alepo’s 5G Core Network Architecture

To begin your next-gen journey today, email us at market.development@alepo.com.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years developing use cases for technologies like VR, AR, IoT, and is currently working on Alepo’s newest products. Always up to speed with the latest in the industry, Nitish is a voracious reader – and fervent writer – about all things related to tech and wireless standards. After hours, he wears a traveler’s hat, pursuing his love for photography as he explores different countries.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

April 13, 2022

5G analytics systems and the predictive network

Intelligent predictive networks promise to be revolutionary for mobile network operators. And the commencement of 5G has accelerated research on the technology, as next-gen infrastructure inherently provides provisions to support these advanced systems. The predictive network essentially provides highly advanced analytics capabilities – further supported by 5G’s analytical systems – performing self-diagnostics and self-managing with minimal or no human intervention. How evolved are predictive networks today, what outcomes can operators expect from them, and what role does predictive analytics play in 5G?

Before we dive into the technical specifics, let’s first understand why predictive networks are relevant for operators.

Business benefits of predictive networks

The predictive network enables a host of benefits to service providers, including:

  • Ensure Quality of Service (QoS), Quality of Experience (QoE), and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for 5G services by intelligently tuning to network conditions
  • Prevent performance issues, predicting them before they occur and taking anticipatory corrective measures
  • Lower downtime by minimizing network disruptions
  • Support advanced next-gen use cases
  • Maximize return on network-capacity investments
  • Continuously tune the network and balance network load to prevent over-engineering

Operator success will be defined by ensuring that their predictive systems can manage their networks more efficiently while ensuring a superior customer experience.

What exactly is a predictive network?

Traditionally, proactive systems, popularly known as Self-Organizing Networks (SON), have analyzed real-time network data to detect anomalies either when an event occurred, or the system was impacted. Their algorithms would then suggest a resolution or take corrective actions that involve human intervention.

In contrast, a predictive network uses months of historical data to predict the recurrence of network events. It essentially treats each event as a statistical problem that can be solved using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques, learning from the past and predicting what it should anticipate.

The role of predictive analytics in the 5G ecosystem

5G acts as a catalyst for predictive networks because it introduces dedicated data analytics network functions (NFs). Standards bodies have defined Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) and Network Exposure Function (NEF) to provide a centralized predictive analytics platform for the 5G core network. These NFs collect and expose network data in real-time to machine learning applications deployed at the network edge.

3GPP has also defined standardization guidelines for data collection, predefined analytics insights, and data exposure interfaces for customers. Accordingly, the NWDAF collects data from multiple sources like user equipment, network functions, network edge, data plane, operation, administration, and maintenance (OAM) systems, and more.

The data gathered by NWDAF can be fed into an analytics engine to provide insights and take necessary actions. It is designed to defragment proprietary network analytics solutions and standardize the way mobile network data is produced and consumed.

The 5G NWDAF, combined with AI and ML, empowers proactive closed-loop network operations, ensuring the network can analyze historical data and learn from it.

The ubiquitous architecture of 5G includes an edge NWDAF co-located with core network functions and a central NWDAF. The edge NWDAF serves low and ultralow latency use cases, while the central NWDAF supports use cases that do not have real-time requirements. It also includes functions such as the data and ML models repository that help ensure the AI/ML models and continuously trained.

Along with NWDAF, 5G also introduces data analytics functions at the following layers:

  • Big data, management, and orchestration (Big Data/MDAF)
  • Application function level (AFDAF)
  • User equipment/RAN (DAF)
  • Data network (DN-DAF)

With these critical 5G functions and an edge platform, the network can meet the performance needs of more complex next-gen use cases. It will develop a system to capture network data from all functions and understand the network; measure and predict service performance; and proactively ensure high QoE, QoS, and network availability round the clock. Automating this system using AI/ML will enable operators to maximize return on investment.

Predictive analytics use cases

Some of the many use cases that can be powered by NWDAF and AI/ML include:

Load AnalysisNetwork Performance Service AssuranceDevice Behavior Analysis
Load level of network slice instanceCongestion information of user data in a specific locationNetwork performance predictions by analyzing traffic changes at the cell or area level Behavior analytics like communication patterns for individual or groups of UEs
Load analytics information for specific NFsNetwork load performance in an area of interestDensity changes in important alarms based on historical dataAbnormal behavior and anomaly detection for individual or groups of UEs

Analytics systems today and into the future

Key stages of network analytics journey

Key stages of a network’s analytics journey

The analytics journey can be classified into four stages:

  • Context-sensitive or diagnostic analytics gathers and visualizes data, identifies patterns in historical data, and detects why the event occurred.
  • Predictive analytics analyzes large volumes of data and forecasts probable future events, using machine learning techniques.
  • Prescriptive analytics provides insights and options to optimize the network.
  • Cognitive analytics takes optimized decisions to rectify problems without human intervention.

Broadly speaking, the industry is currently at the predictive analytics stage. With the advent of 5G analytics functions and maturity in AI/ML algorithms, we will soon see cognitive systems taking intelligent decisions without human intervention.

The future predictive network will analyze large datasets from multiple channels and identify complex network patterns, thus making near-accurate predictions. To achieve this, the operator’s monitoring and maintenance system must rely on 5G NWDAF and advanced predictive algorithms, both of which have equally innovative core functionalities.

Conclusion

Growing data is a reality of modern networks, and analyzing this data is the key to business success. It’s therefore essential for operators to devise and optimize their analytics system and continuously measure its maturity, especially as cloud technology permeates.

5G data analytics functions and AI/ML are set to disrupt the way we design and operate our networks. High compute and 5G network speeds make it easier to analyze huge amounts of data and transmit the results in real-time.

AI and ML technologies also enable the development of more sophisticated data analytics systems that can do more than analyze data and relay information. These intelligent systems can perform self-assessments, auto-adjust, and perform complex tasks on their own, without needing human intervention. As we see more widespread adoption, they will be transformative for the industry.

Anurag Agarwal

Anurag Agarwal

Director – R&D (5G)

A telecom veteran with over 20 years of experience, Anurag is a researcher at heart. He’s always up to speed with the newest technologies, including 5G, IoT, edge computing, network management systems, and more. After hours, he is a fitness buff who loves badminton, squash, cycling, and running marathons.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

March 23, 2022

Introduction

Private 5G and WiFi 6 are gradually going mainstream. Both come with their own set of advantages. Private 5G leverages next-gen technology and delivers it over a secure network for a host of enterprise use cases. WiFi 6 can be deployed in stadiums, office buildings, and a host of public places; can enable consumer automotive applications such as in-car entertainment; and provides a host of capabilities such as low latency, high data rates, and more. But are these features enough for WiFi to cover all types of applications, or should operators still use it alongside 5G networks?

How WiFi benefits cellular networks

Private and commercial WiFi networks have been augmenting legacy cellular networks to provide last-mile connectivity for several years now. WiFi has helped extend cellular network coverage in closed public spaces where it would otherwise be difficult for subscribers to find range.

Use cases such as WiFi calling and WiFi offload continue to help operators. They help save bandwidth, reduce operational costs, and reduce network congestion.

In addition, commercial WiFi networks also provide a revenue stream for businesses. As the network is tied to a physical location and has access to detailed information on network user demographics, operators can leverage data to create highly targeted ads and offerings.

And now, as 5G rolls out, WiFi will continue to play a pivotal role as a bridge to and from 5G.

How does private 5G work?

As the name suggests, private 5G is a secure and resilient wireless next-gen private network. It is designed for custom enterprise use cases that demand ultra-high bandwidth, speed, reliability, and ultra-low latency over a secure and private network. It can be deployed for enterprise businesses such as stores, malls, parking lots, manufacturing plants, mining facilities – the possibilities are endless.

Enterprises have the option to deploy and manage these private 5G networks on their own or have them managed by telecom operators or other vendors. Initially, a private 5G network may be somewhat complex to install and operate for an in-house IT team. Telecom operators, as well as vendors such as Amazon, are trying to address this by providing private 5G as a service to enterprises.

Many last mile 5G devices, from routers to phones to other end-use devices, are also slowly hitting the market.

In most cases, private 5G will run on unlicensed spectrum, such as the CBRS spectrum in the US. However, operators providing private 5G network-as-a-service can use other available spectrums for their private 5G deployments to optimize their networks.

Why private 5G is set to displace traditional WiFi

Why private 5G is set to displace traditional WiFi

With the same advantages of a public 5G network such as high throughput, immense capacity, low latency, and inherent security, private 5G provides advantages that far exceed WiFi. This means it has the potential to displace traditional WiFi and other legacy networks, especially in deployments where outdoor and large area coverage is required. This includes:

  • Critical communication networks such as a remote oil rig, where reliability is important.
  • Industrial wireless networks with several sensors, AR/VR, robots, and more, where high bandwidth and low latency are critical.
  • Campus use cases where the ability to make phone calls is important.

What sets WiFi 6 apart

Limited security, scalability, and efficiency have been challenges with traditional WiFi technology. Previous generations of WiFi focused on increasing data rates and speed. WiFi 6 (also known as 802.11ax), however, is the new generation of WiFi technology with a renewed focus on efficiency and performance.

With WiFi 6E, devices can leverage a huge 1.2 GHz (1,200 MHz) wideband over a 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum. WiFi 6E focuses on making the network efficient for multiuser access with performance gains to utilize 80 percent of the bandwidth for the data plane.

In 2021, over 50 percent of all WiFi product shipments were of WiFi 6. Technology research group IDC predicts that there will be 5.2 billion WiFi 6 product shipments by 2025, 41 percent of which will be WiFi 6E devices.

WiFi 6E access points will be backward compatible, which means existing WiFi-enabled devices will continue to work.

Also, WiFi has the advantage of being an incumbent and easy-to-use technology over private 5G. So, WiFi private networks will continue to serve various use cases, from commercial wireless hotspots and Industrial IoT (I-IoT) deployments to indoor high-density wireless networks for large venues.

WiFi 6 will enhance the private 5G experience

WiFi 6 will enhance the private 5G experience

Private 5G will compete with WiFi networks and likely win where security, outdoor coverage, reliability, and low latency are important. But the private 5G market is still in the early stages of adoption.

WiFi, especially with the introduction of WiFi 6E, will continue to be relevant for private networks, considering the devices it supports, ease of operation, and advanced technology. However, it will not sufficiently support all use cases, such as high-mobility and long-range communication requirements, for example.

In fact, for applications like Industry 4.0 use cases, WiFi 6 and private 5G will go hand in hand.

While public 5G networks roll out and provide high data bandwidth, data use will also grow at the same pace. Telecom operators will have to continue their strategy of leveraging private networks to offload calls and data.

Alepo’s AAA solution is designed for carrier offload use cases that benefit both private 5G and private WiFi networks. Further, enterprises that are adopting private cellular networks need a converged core (4G/LTE + 5G) solution so a large percentage of existing 4G devices can also be used on this network. Alepo’s Compact Core is designed exactly with this market need in mind.

Atul Kshirsagar

Atul Kshirsagar

Executive VP – Engineering

Atul drives 5G core and Digital BSS R&D at Alepo. With over 25 years of experience in the field, he speaks with authority on Telco/5G, Internet of Everything, and Cloud/SaaS. Apart from his love for technology, Atul enjoys sports and the outdoors.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Top four 5G revenue streams

Top four 5G revenue streams

Top four 5G revenue streams for telcos

 

December 09, 2021

 

 

5G growth in the next five years

By 2025, there will be a total of over 1.5 billion 5G connections, according to a recent report by Juniper. And this growth is also expected to reflect in operators’ revenue margins. By 2025, many 4G subscribers will rapidly migrate to 5G and will also embrace the business use cases it enables. With this migration, 44% of global operator billed revenue is estimated to come from 5G, projected to reach $357 billion. Clearly, 5G is pegged for robust growth, so what revenue sources can operators capitalize on first?

Top 5G revenue streams

Consumer Segment

Customers today already expect superfast broadband, and this demand will continue to grow as more advanced services are introduced. In addition to providing high-speed services, 5G fixed wireless networks can provide last-mile connectivity to replace fiber infrastructure and are easy to deploy, making them especially relevant in locations where fiber deployment may be difficult. In other words, consumer ISP services are among the high ROI 5G revenue streams with high ARPU.

Rather than completely overhauling their offerings, operators will have the flexibility to create new revenue streams by modifying their existing business models in phases, leveraging their existing infrastructure and technologies. This includes plans with differentiated pricing based on speed, latency, reliability, as well as new usage charges. So, for instance, a CSP that currently provides voice, data, and video offerings can add value by introducing use cases that focus on meeting the Quality of Service (QoS) needs of different retail or enterprise customers.

5G provides a huge opportunity for innovative ideas, new products and services, and transformed business models. Combined with its ability to leverage data and gain advanced insights into customer usage patterns, it helps create new business opportunities like never before.

Some use cases include:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT), with new devices connected to 5G like home appliances, vehicles, and gaming devices
  • Advanced plans and bundles such as differentiated speeds, multi-device, on-demand, unlimited, QoS-based
  • Access to applications requiring enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and ultra-reliable low latency (uRLLC) capabilities, including immersive media and entertainment like enhanced video, AR, VR, cloud gaming, and live event streaming

Enterprise Segment

Along with supporting faster data speeds—roughly 10 times more than what 4G networks are capable of today—5G works with a host of technologies to enable faster, more efficient, streamlined business operations. It enables new use cases by transforming the underlying core network architecture to support virtualization and integrates edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, IoT, cloud applications, and other technologies that help overcome the limitations of legacy networks. This fundamental evolution helps facilitate digital transformation for enterprises, creating new revenue streams.

Enterprises can gain from the advanced features 5G offers. In many scenarios, businesses can benefit from eliminating office wiring for fully wireless environments. They can remove last-mile bottlenecks using eMBB, and uRLLC can transform businesses in several sectors, including financial services, autonomous fleets, mining, energy, and more, connecting all devices and equipment and streamlining operations.

At present, many enterprises operate on WiFi and/or LTE, but 5G will revolutionize these networks by providing a secure, cost-effective solution that supports advanced technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, IoT, AR/VR, AI, robotics, and more.

Private 5G networks further present high monetization opportunities with Industry 4.0 applications such as:

  • Smart buildings, cities, farms, factories, energy, security, transport systems
  • Connected offices, including sensor-based building management
  • Healthcare: virtual surgeries, telemedicine, implantable device monitoring
  • Agriculture: connected drones, sensors, cameras, RFID devices to monitor soil quality, irrigation systems
  • Education: virtual classrooms, remote learning, holographic AR
  • Retail: extreme personalization, immersive shopping experiences such as magic mirrors and virtual assistants, recognizing shopper behavior through video analysis, predictive inventories, automated checkout at unmanned stores

In addition to facilitating new technical capabilities, 5G networks can also enable a host of business outcomes, such as:

  • Improving employee productivity by empowering them with faster, more efficient, connected devices
  • Streamlining production, business operations, warehouse management, and leveraging data to predict outcomes
  • Enabling high-quality video and conference calls
  • Integrating immersive AR and VR experiences such as virtual walkthroughs for customers, employees, and stakeholders
  • Accelerating time-to-market of products and services
  • Transforming the customer experience

Partnerships

As consumer demand evolves, telcos will need to look beyond traditional buyer/seller models to enrich their capabilities. Building a wide ecosystem of partnerships presents high revenue potential, especially in the long run. Operators and ISPs are already evolving their business models that will enable them to create platforms or digital marketplaces in the future where they can connect users to services. Leveraging technologies such as open APIs and the 5G Network Exposure Function (NEF), they can launch new and innovative business models.

To develop viable 5G use cases, CSPs will need to collaborate with ecosystem partners for IoT, content, enterprises, cloud, and edge orchestrators. This could include companies that develop devices such as drones, robots, and sensors, technology partners, industrial manufacturers, and more. Implementing a complete 5G core, including SDMAUSF, CHF, NEF, and more will enable these partnerships.

Partnerships can enable new B2B, B2C, and B2B2X business models based on connectivity, shared infrastructure, IIoT, eMBB, uRLLC, mIoT for marketplace platforms, and more.

Some partnership-centric 5G business models that will offer tremendous revenue opportunities for telcos include:

  • Revenue-sharing – similar to content bundling and mobile services combos in 4G/LTE (such as watching a movie or live event and charging for it with the monthly bill), 5G will create multiple revenue streams through collaborations, IoTs, third-party communications, and entertainment bundles, each based on different business models.
  • Commissioning – open new monetization channels by treating your network as a platform, like iOS or Goole Play. When partners sell devices, subscriptions, or content through your marketplace you can earn a fee or commission.
  • Wholesale networks – leverage the massive investment of building a 5G network by leasing out a slice like a traditional MVNO model. In 5G, the types of MVNOs and service providers looking to host their own network will exponentially grow as the types of services offered expand.
  • Flexible charging and policy models – the modern, flexible, and advanced charging function (CHF) and policy control function (PCF) of the 5G core enable operators to truly harness 5G’s monetization potential with partners. CHF helps charge for everything, supports a wide range of service models, and allows real-time charging on various types of events, ensuring zero revenue leakage across services. PCF enables comprehensive policy management, helps implement network slice-based policies for high-end applications such as remote surgeries, robot automation, autonomous vehicles, cloud gaming, and more.

Slicing

Network slicing makes it possible for operators to build multiple dedicated networks, with each one designed to fulfill the diverse needs of different business verticals at the same time. While operators may not see immediate ROI, slicing holds strong promise for the future, especially once RAN is deployed everywhere.

From ultra-reliable communication for autonomous vehicles to enhanced mobile broadband for gaming applications, operators can build a different “slice” for each requirement by segmenting the physical network into multiple logical networks. Integrating Network as a Service (NaaS) enables the physical network to be split into these logical instances, helping operators market and monetize individual slices while letting customers control the specifications of their slices.

Some examples of slices:

  • Service-based slicing
  • Based on Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements: speed, QoS, security, reliability, latency, services, and more
  • Usage-based monetization
  • Slices for live broadcasts
  • Slices for massive IoT
  • Slices for industrial automation

Conclusion

The transition to 5G will initially require large capital expenditure, and ROI will need to come from more than consumer mobile business. As 5G permeates, we’re certain that private 5G will see widespread adoption. Operator deployments will be especially beneficial to small and medium enterprises, and our industry-leading 5G Core offerings equip operators to cater to these enterprise clients.

Alepo provides end-to-end solutions to meet diverse 5G transformation needs. To this end, we have forged partnerships with leading technology innovators. We also partner with local system integrators to ensure regulatory compliance and flawless implementation. Alepo is an early mover in global 5G implementation, and our solution undergoes continual R&D to ensure we provide market-leading innovation, enabling our customers to have an edge over their competitors.

Anurag Agarwal

Anurag Agarwal

Director – R&D (5G)

A telecom veteran with over 20 years of experience, Anurag is a researcher at heart. He’s always up to speed with the newest technologies, including 5G RAN, IoT, edge computing, network management systems, and more. After hours, he is a fitness buff who loves badminton, squash, cycling, and running marathons.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

 

April 27, 2021

 

 

 

Why 5G demands new charging capabilities  

5G’s transformative features such as low latency, ultrafast speeds, and high bandwidth open a world of opportunities for consumer and industry applications. Its ability to support massive volumes – according to Statista, 50 billion internet of things (IoT) connected devices are expected to be in use by 2030 – also unlocks the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). An operator’s charging capabilities thus assume a pivotal role, ensuring all 5G services are fully monetizable using modern and advanced charging use cases.

The charging engines many operators use today were designed for networks like 3G and LTE. These previous generations did not have the network scalability and performance needs of 5G, and are unable to support the advanced monetization capabilities that 5G use cases require to accurately charge across a large number of services, devices, and different event types. This demands fundamental changes to the underlying monetization architecture, taking a service-based approach, much like the 5G core network itself.

How next-gen charging capabilities work

Implementing next-gen charging and policy control functions of the 5G core enables operators to truly harness the monetization potential of 5G. The Charging Function (CHF) enables operators to charge for everything, supporting models for multiple parties (for instance, B2B2X models), helps implement RESTful processes, and enables real-time charging on various types of events. The Policy Control Function (PCF) enables end-to-end policy management, implements slice-based policies for highly specific applications, supports innovation and enrichment through service exposure, and offers advanced analytics for improved services.

In recent years, more and more operators have implemented converged charging for all their services, which is also part of the 3GPP Release 15 standard. The CHF has been functionally and architecturally restructured for 5G versus its legacy OCS counterpart. Supporting both online as well as offline charging, it is crucial to enabling 5G service providers to swiftly respond to evolving customer demands and introducing new and innovative services that can be charged. It implements network integrations that are formulated in keeping with service-based architecture, enabling next-gen monetization opportunities, employing cloud-based and containerized technology, enabling more automation, agility, flexibility, and minimizing revenue leaks.

Through network slicing, 5G operators can provide “slices” or smaller dedicated parts of their networks to customers, dedicating resources depending on the SLA to focus on speed, latency, capacity, and so on, supporting use cases such as smart buildings, smart offices, private campus networks, connected vehicles, and much more, all of which require charging support. Plus, 5G works on microservices-based infrastructure that helps deliver ultra-low latency, and to enable this, previously centralized charging components will now need to be more distributed and move closer to the network edge. So, 5G charging systems are required to support various new types of services like API calls, tiered QoS plans, edge computing capacity, and more.

Modern and scalable convergent charging systems assume particular relevance for enterprises, enabling a gamut of new-age applications to help businesses differentiate themselves while swiftly unlocking these new revenue streamsIn the coming years, as 5G standalone deployments become more widespread, converged charging is expected to be more widely implemented.

5G charging use cases

5G supports a wide range of B2B, B2C, as well as B2B2X services, and thus demands charging use cases that help ensure zero revenue leakage across services. These include charging based on:

Slices

Network slicing is a key 5G use case and is integral to 5G charging. Most devices today have the same bandwidth and service levels, but network slicing creates new charging opportunities by enabling the segregation of network resources. Operators can provide slices to cater to a wide range of customer requirements, offering endless possibilities for revenue streams. Using flexible charging models, operators can monetize these slices for both direct consumers as well as the enterprise. Operators can offer various granular and personalized services to consumers on different slices. And for the enterprise customer, operators can offer models for different needs like IoT-connected devices and equipment, for its employees, its customers, special events, field tests and trials, and so on, for which unique policy and charging rules can be defined.

Network slices can be created based on various criteria, some of which include:

QoS tiers

Operators can charge subscribers based on the Quality of Service (QoS) they have signed up for. This is particularly relevant for industrial and enterprise applications, empowering the enterprise to define granular metrics such as latency, data rate, capacity, mobility, security, throughput, response time, level of service, and more.

SLA-based services

Network slices are designed to serve individual customer needs, for metrics including system capacity, user experience, energy consumption, coverage, latency, and more. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be defined based on the level of service a customer expects from each slice. 5G charging systems enable operators to dynamically scale pricing, define policy rules for specific devices, and much more, enabling them to offer more specific SLAs.

Platform use (PaaS)

Operators can build their own platforms and use open APIs to share and charge for their network and IT infrastructure with platform providers or developers who can use cloud infrastructure to deploy applications. The customer has control over the application, but the operator controls the underlying infrastructure.

Software use (SaaS)

In this case, the operator can charge for applications that it runs on the cloud and provides to consumers. The operator controls and manages both the infrastructure as well as the application and can charge on different events like time or usage.

Infrastructure use (IaaS)

Service providers can partner with enterprises to share their infrastructure and/or applications, granting the enterprise control over this infrastructure while charging for its use. This is especially useful for smaller enterprises who do not want to invest in their own infrastructure but are in need of a secure and private network.

Digital ecosystems

Operators can set up digital ecosystems or marketplaces to provide a platform that connects producers and providers of goods and services with consumers, forging partnerships with these providers to monetize the service. Here, operators have the added advantage of having access to advanced data and analytics tools that help them segregate customers, run targeted campaigns, and more.

Real-time performance

5G’s ultrafast speeds, stable connectivity, and low latency enable real-time applications, including multimedia like augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming. Operators can define charging based on real-time performance for these applications.

Benefits of next-gen charging systems 

5G charging engines offer a host of benefits to operators, enabling them to swiftly adapt to dynamic market needs. Some of these include:

Handle advanced 5G use cases 

With the rapid increase in the number of devices connected to the network, 5G charging systems must handle an unprecedented amount of traffic and charge for the endless application possibilities of next-gen networks. 3GPP has defined a host of possibilities for the 5G charging ecosystem, introducing elements in the 5G core that are unavailable in legacy charging systems. The PCF serves as a unified platform to govern the implementation of policy and charging rules. The Session Management Function enables operators to seamlessly implement session charging between devices, so they can efficiently charge users when they use different devices for the same service, for instance, like watching a movie. And other network functions, such as the Network Exposure Function (NEF), Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF), and Network Slice Management, equip operators to gather essential device and location data, implement slice-based charging, enable multiple flexible charging scenarios, facilitate operators and enterprises to share session information, allow granular charging based on advanced analytics, and more.

Develop diverse partnerships

5G charging capabilities include support for multiple business partners on a single platform, enabling operators’ business and marketing teams to easily and dynamically forge innovative partnerships to monetize B2B2X, B2B, B2C, wholesale, and IoT services.

Enhance customer experience

By making a host of advanced use cases fully monetizable, 5G charging paves the way for innovation, boosting CX, improving brand differentiation, and ensuring customer loyalty.

High return on investment

Advanced charging helps open new revenue streams as well as secure the revenue potential of existing services, maximizing ROI.

Improve business agility

Operators can effortlessly launch new plans and promotions, automate transaction processing even for the most complex use cases, implement flexible data models that support complex account hierarchies for granular plans and services, and more.

How Alepo can help 

Alepo supports advanced charging use cases through robust convergent charging and policy control network functions, both of which are part of the 5G-compliant Digital BSS product suite and Alepo’s 5G Core Network solution. Both can either be deployed as part of the new solution or integrated with any other vendor’s BSS, enabling you to preserve your existing network investments.

Legacy 4G/LTE environments are unable to support charging for 5G use cases, so the first step towards implementing advanced charging is ensuring you have a modern BSS and 5G Core infrastructure. As experts in this domain, Alepo can provide a host of deployment options to smoothly transition to 5G, including local, public, hybrid, 4G + 5G combo, and private models.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

 

April 8, 2021

 

 

Introduction

5G holds immense potential to transform virtually every industry with its ultrafast speeds, low latency, high bandwidth, and reliability. As healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, entertainment, and a host of other sectors eagerly await the application of next-gen use cases, the race is on for service providers to find the easiest path to rolling out and monetizing the next-gen technology, especially for their enterprise clients. Alepo’s Compact Core facilitates the support of enterprise deployments, particularly those looking for private networks, and it offers a host of flexible options depending on the operator’s unique business requirements.

Alepo’s Compact Core

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G or 5G NSA), and since they are dependent on the 4G core, they aren’t true end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is set to change that. All elements in the 5G-compliant Compact Core are pre-integrated, ensuring that enterprises can swiftly set up standalone 5G networks (5G SA) that are independent of the 4G core, while also supporting combo deployments over an existing 4G core.

The industrialized Compact Core solution enables service providers to support enterprise and industrial use cases for a small number of subscribers. A complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution, the Compact Core includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, working seamlessly with end devices and the radio access network without impacting or depending on external systems.

The solution comprises AuSF for Authentication, UDM for Authorization, a converged policy combo (PCF + PCRF), and Data Repository for Subscriber Data Management. It also includes an enterprise self-service portal for enterprises to import and efficiently manage all connected devices. (For more details on its features and benefits, read our blog, Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core.)

Compact Core Deployment Modes

Local deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G Core (5GC) is deployed on-premise over private cloud or standalone servers. The containerized 5G core network functions (NFs) are deployed on cloud-native infrastructure. It is a completely isolated system with no external inputs or outputs, and all data processing is completed and stored onsite.
  • High security with local control and no outside connection

  • Optimizes OPEX

  • One-box solution

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools

  • Manufacturing

  • Utilities

  • Public safety

  • Smart buildings

  • Education

Hybrid deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The User Plan Function (UPF) is deployed on the telco edge or enterprise premise, while the 5G core is deployed on private or public cloud at a centralized location. All devices are connected to a centralized server; the data payload dynamically changes depending on the edge location, helping ensure low latency.
  • Enables low-latency data connectivity

  • The UPF is connected to the 5G Core using a secured tunnel, ensuring failproof security

  • All 5GC NFs are deployed with a minimal resource footprint

  • Enables focus on data control and access, with dedicated communications only where needed

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools

Public cloud model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G core NFs are deployed on highly distributed public cloud infrastructure, enabling one or more geographic locations both within the operator’s premises as well as in other regions. Supports secure and reliable wireless infrastructure for industrial applications.
  • Reduces network management complexities and ongoing IT maintenance

  • Lowers CAPEX and deployment time

  • Simplifies deployments through automated orchestration and configuration

  • Helps efficiently manage traffic

  • Industrial IoT (IIoT)

  • Manufacturing automation

  • Events

  • 5G AR

  • Base station sites

  • Regional and/or national data centers for edge infrastructure

4G+5G combo model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    This converged offering for a joint 4G and 5G core supports containerized 4G+5G core NFs that are deployed over cloud-native infrastructure, with support for inter-RAT and intra-RAT mobility.
  • Can be deployed with or without N26 interworking support

  • A one-box solution

  • Helps optimize CAPEX and OPEX

  • Supports integrated EMS and PaaS tools for smooth operations and maintenance
  • Enterprises who want to support LTE from a 5G core

  • Network slicing

Business Benefits of Alepo’s Compact Core

Partnering with Alepo for the Compact Core offers a host of advantages for service providers:

  • The solution’s flexibility in deployment is unparalleled, ensuring a low resource footprint no matter what deployment mode an enterprise chooses.
  • The Compact Core leverages cloud-native features to ensure hassle-free, automated, and cost-efficient operations that can be tailored for each enterprise’s unique business requirements.
  • The plug-and-play capability enables enterprises to swiftly launch a private network, bundling in one solution a host of network offerings (broadband, voice, and more). The various open interfaces such as Radio Access Network (RAN) or core network can plug into the operator’s network for wide-area coverage. The solution enables the enterprise to support and control services (like edge computing) and facilitates network management using a network slice.
  • Alepo is an early mover in helping operators implement 5G technology, with many 5GC projects and compact cores deployed. As an end-to-end solutions provider, we leverage our many cross-industry partnerships, build cybersecurity plans, and ensure regulatory compliance in your region of operations, enabling you to realize your operational and business goals so you can focus on helping your enterprise clients do that same.

Begin your next-gen journey today by booking a demo with our 5G solution experts.

Prathamesh Malushte

Prathamesh Malushte

Principal Solution Architect

Prathamesh is a PDM and solution integration specialist with expertise in 5G core network functions and protocols. He specializes in creating user stories, call flows, and designs for 5GC as well as legacy networks, as well as in handling OSS/BSS intricacies. After hours, he loves sports, enjoys trekking, and is passionate about playing different musical instruments.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter