How policy control and charging NFs harness 5G potential

How policy control and charging NFs harness 5G potential

How policy control and charging NFs harness 5G potential

 

March 30, 2022

The importance of 5G policy control and charging function

With 5G implementations around the world becoming a reality, operators have one pressing concern: where will 5G ROI come from? 5G opens a host of revenue-generation opportunities through advanced services for consumers as well as enterprises. These services span across connected devices, industrial and manufacturing applications, immersive experiences using AR/VR, and more. To maximize their ROI potential, operators need to efficiently charge for all these services, and this means reimagining their charging infrastructure with two key next-gen components: policy control function (PCF) and charging function (CHF).

As 5G evolves, the services it enables will be more granular and differentiated, supported by all the new data sources to which networks will have access. More data means operators will have a far more detailed understanding of customer behavior and traffic patterns than ever before. In effect, 5G policy and charging functions will also need to be more granular to ensure networks can introduce highly contextual offerings that they can fully monetize.

What 5G policy control and charging provide

Next-gen architecture

Its cloud-native and microservices-based open architecture enables support for complex B2B2X use cases, giving CSPs control over how different services interwork in the partner ecosystem. It can be deployed at the edge. Operators can swiftly and easily implement new use cases and streamline charging.

Monetizable partner models

Partners can be rapidly onboarded for a wide range of use cases, further simplified with custom predefined templates for various configurations. 5G policy control and charging (PCC) also enable operators to implement complex and granular business models in real-time with dynamically changing prices and partners.

Advance charging capabilities

PCC lets operators launch and monetize innovative offerings and charge accurately in real-time for different services based on QoS, access network, SLA, and more.

Open framework

Open APIs let operators easily monetize their network and infrastructure services, charging partners based on usage and different SLAs. They can also provide charging as a service, granting partners control over their own pricing.

How policy control and charging have evolved in 5G 

Next-gen use cases, by nature, are complex and granular, demanding a far more nuanced approach to policy as well as charging functions. Policy and charging play far more advanced and architecturally different roles in 5G.

In legacy architecture, the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) performed usage monitoring; the Online Charging System (OCS) + Offline Charging System (OFCS) separately performed charging functionalities and had multiple interfaces for different service operations. The next-gen, modular, and cloud-native microservice-based architecture (SBA) of 5G allows all network functions to communicate with each other using a simplified APIs, enabling Policy Control Function (PCF) and Charging Function (CHF) to communicate using a single more open REST-based interface.

The 5G policy control function manages demands that are more focused on network capabilities. The PCF governs network resources in entirely new ways, across devices, radio, and the core network. The 5G charging function helps evolve business operations and operates across enterprise systems and networks to implement advanced and innovative service monetization methods. This powerful combo of PCF and CHF together helps operators support diverse high-value 5G use cases.

The role of PCF in the 5G core

5G PCF provides a convergent platform to manage 4G and 5G services. Operators can configure and manage converged policy use cases for data and voice services by using a common 4G/5G core to integrate with 4G and 5G networks. It is compliant with 4G, 5G-NSA (non-standalone), and 5G-SA (standalone) deployments. It enables operators to support private and public networks.

The 3GPP standards-defined PCF helps CSPs to:

  • Implement end-to-end policy management, from devices to applications
  • Define policies for different slices, supporting diverse 5G use cases such as enhanced mobile broadband (EMBB), ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC), massive IoT, and more
  • Enable service exposure to external applications
  • Gain advanced BI insights with real-time analytics, altering the business strategy and creating new offerings on the fly
  • Leverage data to create custom differentiated services for retail and enterprise customers

How CHF redefines charging

As defined by 3GPP, the CHF provides convergent online and offline charging. It replaces the Diameter-based integrations used in previous-generation networks for real-time rating and charging with REST APIs. However, as 4G and 5G will coexist for the foreseeable future, it’s important for charging to continue to support Diameter as well as RESTful interfaces. By implementing this future-ready infrastructure, operators can improve the customer experience, continuing to provide their legacy offerings alongside new ones.

The CHF enables operators to charge for anything, moving beyond conventional units of measure. These can include Quality of Service (QoS), service availability, latency, SLAs, bandwidth slice-based, location-based, data volume, throughput, reliability, security, energy efficiency, API exposure, speed tiers, and much more.

The 3GPP standards-compliant CHF enables operators to:

  • Scale to support charging of massive volumes
  • Enable charging in partner hierarchies as well as charging on behalf of partners by providing charging as a service (such as for IoT services)
  • Enable charging for non-telco services across sectors such as immersive shopping experiences using AR/VR, immersive media at sporting events, and more
  • Implement different charging parameters for multiple parties involved in B2B2X business models
  • Ensure accurate invoicing and settlements in real-time

Benefits of 5G PCF and CHF

Scale up or down based on traffic

Microservices-based architecture and Kubernetes enable the system to easily scale up or down to support dynamic traffic growth. This traffic-based auto-adjustment optimizes resource usage, provides consistent connectivity, and saves processing costs.

Ensure a vendor-agnostic environment

3GPP standards-compliant 5G NFs like PCF and CHF can work with network infrastructure and equipment from any vendor, enabling operators to choose the most cost-effective options.

Leverage existing BSS investments

5G PCF and CHF are part of the5G core and can be implemented alongside an existing digital BSS. This gives operators the flexibility to gradually transition their networks without having to overhaul their BSS.

Deploy a unified platform

Operators can configure, launch, monitor, and control all charging policies and services from a converged system.

Reduce costs

The NFV- and cloud-compliant charging functions help maintain a low resource footprint, keep initial investment and operational costs low.

Drive revenue

Operators can open new revenue streams through the introduction of modern and advanced services. And by ensuring accurate charging, they can prevent revenue leaks, further improving revenue.

Support slice-based charging and monitoring 

Operators can perform charging and usage monitoring for network slices, granting certain users access to a dedicated set of resources for use cases like IoT, V2X, URLLC, and more.

Supports legacy and next-gen charging

As operators transition from 4G to 5G, CHF helps them meet both legacy and 5G charging needs. CHF makes operators future-ready while effectively supporting legacy services.

Conclusion

Seizing 5G opportunities means introducing advanced next-gen services. This demands granular and convergent charging functionalities that allow operators to rate, charge for, and bill events. And as services become more differentiated, charging must also take a more needs-based approach.

The PCF and CHF enables operators to charge based on the value they deliver to customers rather than charging a flat rate for service use. They need to fundamentally shift focus from providing connectivity to facilitating CX-driven services.

Partnerships play a huge role in 5G – another aspect where charging takes center stage. As they build an ecosystem of partners to enable a multitude of services, CSPs also need to have the charging infrastructure to ensure accuracy in billing and diversity in the business models they support. Say, for instance, a telco partners with a content platform. From the customer’s perspective, it makes sense to pay for a bundle of the content service along with 5G connectivity needed to access that service. It benefits the operators as well as the content platform by expanding their potential reach. Defining the charging policies and seamlessly charging for these services is possible with a next-gen PCF and CHF.

Operators with 5G on their roadmap even a few years down the line should begin preparing their networks today to ensure that they can fully monetize 5G once they implement it. The first step in this direction is BSS transformation.

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.

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Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

 

March 30, 2022

The role of vRAN in 5G

5G has unveiled a world of opportunities for service providers. It is helping them revolutionize their offerings by introducing advanced services such as private networks, network slices, IoT connectivity, and more. But what makes 5G transformational for operators on the technical and business fronts? One vital component is the virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN), which plays a significant role in the evolution of mobile networks.

The vRAN simplifies network management and enables service providers to introduce innovative new services. And the good news is, existing 4G vRAN solutions are futureproof and equipped to deliver 5G connectivity. That means operators with 5G on their roadmap can begin – in fact many have already begun – implementing vRAN now.

What makes it different from RAN?

The RAN is essential in connecting radio devices to mobile core networks and relies on hardware infrastructure. The focus of vRAN is to evolve from the traditional hardware-driven approach of RAN, and instead implement virtualized or software-based functions. It disaggregates software and hardware. Virtualizing the RAN also enables operators to run their 5G stacks on different vendor infrastructure. With its high flexibility, adaptability, and interoperability, it enables advanced high-value next-gen use cases.

How vRAN works

vRAN employs network functions virtualization (NFV), enabling operators to efficiently control and route cellular resources – a function that’s crucial for 5G core networks.

The virtualized RAN moves the control functions of hardware base stations to centralized servers, bringing them closer to the network edge. By doing so, operators can finetune their resources to accommodate dynamically changing network traffic.

Service providers can efficiently scale their networks without investing in expensive hardware.

Top business benefits of virtualized RAN

1. Eliminate dependence on proprietary hardware vendors

Earlier, the market was dominated by a few players who provided proprietary hardware and software solutions for RAN. Operators were locked in with one vendor’s ecosystem. The introduction of vRAN has changed all this, providing greater flexibility in hardware, software, and systems integration.

As vRAN adheres to the principles of NFV, it lets operators deploy RAN on generic or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. It helps improve network resiliency and utilization. It also simplifies network routing, making it more agile and flexible than hardware-based RAN.

2. Simplify maintenance and increase flexibility

With the virtualization of baseband functions deployed on generic hardware, these functions now reside in centralized data centers. vRAN allows a single uniform hardware platform across the core network, RAN, and the edge. This simplifies the management of the network, reducing operation and maintenance costs.

In addition, network functions from multiple vendors can run on the same hardware, granting increased flexibility to the service provider. Automation software can be enabled to help monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and simplify maintenance.

3. Enable high scalability

vRAN allows for network resources to be scaled or de-scaled depending on changing network demands. The service provider may allocate or de-allocate its resources depending on specific requirements. A private 5G network, for instance, may not need as many compute resources. On the other hand, a dense urban location will demand that the service provider allocate more resources. Consequently, operators will not have to pay for unused resources, further leveraging the cost efficiency of vRAN, improving resource utilization, and network performance.

4. Ensure swift and easy network upgrades

A vRAN can adapt to changes in the network faster because admins can remotely apply updates with a software patch. And, as vRAN can adapt to rapidly changing network demands given its flexibility, it helps ensure the network is future-proof. A present-day 4G vRAN will only require a software update to enable 5G.

5. Seize innovation opportunities

The features and capabilities of vRAN will, no doubt, mean reduced CAPEX and OPEX. vRAN will also allow operators to innovate upon the 5G ecosystem, unlocking new revenue-generation opportunities that were previously unexplored. It enables the operator to support exclusive features of 5G such as network slicing, voice, massive IoT, and URLLC without implementing any changes to its hardware infrastructure. And since it will ensure faster time-to-market of new services, it will significantly contribute to business success.

Conclusion

vRAN enables service providers to ensure a more reliable and flexible network, optimizing resources and keeping costs low. It will be especially beneficial for private 5G networks. Alepo’s 5G solutions include strategic partnerships with leading technology vendors, helping you create a best-of-breed ecosystem without vendor lock-in.

Find out how you can begin your 5G journey: 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.

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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.

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Top Five Telecom Trends to Watch in 2022

Top Five Telecom Trends to Watch in 2022

Top Five Telecom Trends to Watch in 2022

 

December 17, 2021

 

 

Introduction

Post-pandemic market dynamics have been challenging for global CSPs, who have emerged as essential service providers dealing with surging demand from millions working or studying at home. At the same time, there have been significant challenges running their businesses with in-person restrictions and high staff turnover. For many operators, the past year was time to accelerate their digitization roadmap by several years, introducing more digital services and implementing infrastructure to monetize these offerings. This cultural shift driving demand for data services and digital journeys will continue into next year and beyond. In an environment where more retail and enterprise consumers are demanding digital services and digital engagement, what trends can telecom operators expect in 2022?

2022’s top 5 telecom trends

Digitization of business models

The pandemic has completely changed how customers interact with their service providers, transforming the way business is conducted. More interactions are online, and subscribers are more inclined to choose a service provider who offers digital onboarding and self-care services. While many have already modernized their networks, in 2022, CSPs will continue to transform operations through digitalization of infrastructure and services.

More operators will also introduce the zero-touch network, which enables 100% digital customer journeys. This means replacing all physical touchpoints such as stores or support agents with digital and automated ones. Operators will be able to digitize customer experience (CX) with fully digital sales and support, while keeping their initial investment and overheads low. They will be able to offer customers full control over their subscriptions, implementing end-to-end automation to enable everything from digital self-onboarding and eKYC to accessing self-help using chatbots.

To support more advanced and digital services, operators will also need to implement more flexible and agile backend operations and systems. This includes technologies such as hyperscale infrastructure, automated workflows, artificial intelligence (AI), digital apps, and more. Many operators may introduce a new lean, agile, cloud-native digital brand rather than attempting to transform their existing complex network infrastructure.

Focus moving from IoT to IoE

The enterprise segment will drive growth over the new few years, and connectivity is just one part of what CSPs have to offer. Business models will evolve to provide end-to-end service offerings, including many new innovative use cases around IoT. In fact, there will be a shift from simply facilitating use cases involving the Internet of Things to applications that leverage the Internet of Everything. What exactly is the difference between IoT and IoE? The simple explanation is that IoT connects machines, while IoE extends beyond connecting mobile devices and facilitates intelligent connections between all types of data, processes, people, appliances, and things. These connections will be facilitated over public or private networks over standard protocols, and each one can be accessed and measured in real-time. With billions of potential connections supporting a more cognitive and intelligent environment, IoE holds the potential to transform our lives.

This report forecasts that the global IoE market will reach $3,352 billion by 2022. While actual implementation of use cases may still be a while away, there will be significant investments in research and studies to determine the most relevant applications. What use cases networks will facilitate relies heavily on industry-based needs and how they evolve their business models. Industries such as manufacturing and mining are likely to be early adapters, and are already implementing process automation.

Acceleration of cloud deployments

Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022 report predicts that by 2025, cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for over 95% of new digital initiatives, which in 2021 are less than 40%.

Cloud deployment provides a host of benefits to CSPs. For one, it helps keep implementation and operational costs low. It enables telcos to scale up and down to meet traffic demands, optimizing their network resources. It also supports operators to take the ‘pay as you grow’ business approach (another trend that will become increasingly popular in 2022). This model means operators can achieve faster time to market and minimize costs as they only pay for the services that they actually use – both benefits that will help them remain relevant in the increasingly competitive market dynamics we’re likely to witness.

Aside from facilitating CSPs to automate processes and operations, deploying in the cloud will also serve as the foundation for generating new revenue streams and market growth opportunities by implementing tech innovations like data analytics and 5G.

Enterprise Private 5G

The adoption of private 5G networks will start gaining more traction around the world. As these dedicated networks provide security, speed, and bandwidth advantages over WiFi and LTE, they will be game-changers for enterprises.

In 2022, we are likely to see adoption from enterprises such as manufacturers who require 5G capabilities to implement transformative applications that drive smart factories, digital transformation, and IoT. Private 5G will also help forward the vision of smart manufacturing and smart factories. In addition to supporting use cases such as IoT, automation, and enabling ultrafast and reliable connectivity, it will help build factories without wires and cables. This will help manufacturing units drive revenue by saving time and effort while maintaining a clean clutter-free factory floor for robots and automated machines to perform operations.

Cybersecurity

As advanced services such as IoT become prevalent, operators will have access to more customer data than ever and will be expected to provide more personalized experiences by leveraging this data. CSPs need to protect this data to maintain customer trust. And with the huge increase in cyber crime, there will be more region-specific standards and compliances from a regulatory standpoint.

Security in 2022 will go beyond the traditional approaches, with assets and users becoming more mobile. It means implementing a cybersecurity mesh architecture (CSMA), which helps provide an integrated security structure to keep all assets safe, regardless of their location.

From the security standpoint, another added layer that operators can provide is the eSIM. By transmitting all SIM data digitally, operators can eliminate the need for a physical SIM card and delivery address, securing customer data through online verification.

Conclusion

In 2022, 5G and digitalization of networks and service offerings will continue to drive revenue and subscriber growth. A host of new devices and technologies are making 5G and the promise of its advanced use cases a reality. Operators will need to support this growth by implementing modern next-gen applications and infrastructure, such as leveraging the public cloud, all while keeping security in mind. Alepo provides a host of digital-first offerings that enable operators to future-proof their networks. Want to know more about our 5G-ready cloud-based solutions?

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Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Director, Product Management

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 15 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS and 5G offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

Top five telecom trends to expect in 2021

28th of December 2020

2020 has been transformative for businesses around the world; years of digitalization happened within months and service providers were the backbone of this change. The pandemic has also compelled CSPs to rethink their operations and fasttrack their own digital transformation – a phase that has only just begun and will accelerate in 2021.

Operators will reinvent and focus more on customer-centric offerings to meet evolving demands with the work from anywhere culture and to be ready for new lockdowns on notice. AI, machine learning, and automation will facilitate telcos to modernize their network and help create personalized and contextual services. 5G has become a reality and new IoT applications and private 5G will come to fruition.

The increasing reliance on cloud services, digital communication, and digital payments, in addition to increasing network demand, also means added cybersecurity concerns for networks as well as their subscribers. 2020 saw significant hacks, and operators will continue to put in place more enhanced security measures to safeguard their own networks and their customers.

The top 5 trends to watch

5G proliferation

Luckily the pandemic didn’t slow 5G investment, with new network rollouts accelerating. 2020 saw devices like the iPhone12 and lower-priced 5G devices hitting the market, and the adoption is expected to be widespread in 2021. 5G operators will need to turn their attention towards providing a customer experience that’s as modern and advanced as the services it will accompany, as well as solutions for private 5G to facilitate the fourth industrial revolution.Deloitte forecasts that private 5G deployment over the next five years will largely comprise three types of industries for which private 5G is the most natural choice, delivering unmatched security, low latency, high speed, network slicing for specific resource allocation, cost-efficiency, and flexibility that technologies such as 4G and LTE cannot. The first movers, they predict, will be ports, airports, and other logistics hubs, considering the nature of their operations that require controlling a vast network of equipment to manage heavy loads and tracking each consignment in real-time. Next, the forecast says, will be factories and warehouses looking to replace their existing combination of wired as well as wireless technologies with wireless private 5G networks that can handle high volumes of large and small devices, including everything from a screwdriver to massive industrial equipment. The third section of the market, the forecast says, will include greenfield deployments, especially in smart buildings and campuses, but also temporary sites such as music festivals.

And private 5G holds massive potential for service providers: an Analysys Mason report cites that of all existing and ongoing private 5G deployments, operators hold merely 16%, implying there is much scope for growth. While many large enterprises are considering deploying their own private 5G networks, operators have a competitive edge. Operator-licensed spectrum is currently the only deployment option available for private networks in many countries and is least likely to face interference. This, coupled with their expertise in building network infrastructure and managing operations, makes partnering with operators a reliable and cost-effective route to private 5G.

Internet of Behavior (IoB)

5G has ushered in a new generation of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). The use of IoT devices will be even more widespread as 5G networks become more prevalent globally. We also know that this means that there will be more devices per person, and more devices mean more valuable customer data, for what can be called the Internet of Behaviors (IoB).

IoB means companies will take advantage of their access to increasingly sophisticated data and insights into customer behavior through technologies like big data, location tracking, and facial recognition. Gathering and analyzing this behavioral data helps boost CX by offering increasingly personalized and contextual services – over different channels depending on individual preferences. In addition to gauging demand, these detailed behavior insights will also enable operators to accelerate identifying and tackling service-related and other issues their customers may be facing.

The nature of data that is gathered and used will depend on local privacy laws and regulations in different countries, though often the responsibility will be on individual companies to define the comfort zone for what level of data gathering is acceptable for their customers, in other words, using the data to offer enough value-addition to customers to improve their relationship with the business, without overstepping moral bounds.

Cloud services

The digital shift of working from anywhere is compelling more telcos to invest in IT systems and infrastructure that can support the high volumes of data their networks are processing. Cloud computing is being embraced by telcos more and more as its benefits become known. Operating in the cloud reduces physical infrastructural requirements, lowers operational costs, and helps streamline processes. Further, it enables operators to leverage the full potential of their customer data, making it more easily accessible across the organization.

Among the different cloud computing scenarios, more telcos are likely to favor distributed cloud in 2021. Here, public cloud providers distribute cloud services to various physical locations. Telcos can choose locations close to them to enable low latency and lower costs while operating on the public cloud without having to invest in private cloud infrastructure.

And while telcos will increasingly invest in cloud computing, data volumes are continuing to increase by the minute; Gartner has estimated that by 2023, 43 billion IoT-enabled devices will be in use. Cloud computing falls short in offering enough latency to handle these growing data volumes and the advanced use cases that 5G supports. Telcos can supplement their capacity and support IoT infrastructure by implementing edge computing systems that will pre-process data that it gathers from its sources of origin.

Cybersecurity

The increasing dependence on digital connectivity has also meant that telcos need to account for added security threats to their networks as well as to customer devices, taking additional measures to secure customer data. Forbes reports that the pandemic has resulted in attacks on banks increasing 238 percent, and those on cloud servers increasing by 600 percent, and this is only between January and April 2020.

Telcos must account for the fact that more customers, individuals as well as enterprise clients, are working remotely, and need a security structure in place that safeguards them. This means that cybersecurity strategies, similar to those earlier provided to enterprises, will now be extended to home networks and on mobile devices.

Operators will increasingly employ sophisticated tools such as AI and machine learning techniques to filter out security threats, implement additional firewalls, use cloud and other services with more enhanced in-built security measures, and more.

Confidential computing is another important trend that we are likely to see in 2021, helping operators in ramping up data privacy, encrypting all computing, and adding layers of security around the sensitive customer as well as network data.

Digital payments

Contactless payments were already pervasive pre-pandemic and have since taken even greater strides, enabling secure payments while maintaining hygiene precautions in keeping with global social distancing norms. Forty-six percent of respondents in a global consumer study said they had opted for contactless payment options instead of their cards, and 82 percent view it as a cleaner way to make payments. In another survey conducted by Fiserv on payment methods people considered safest in preventing COVID-19 spread, 42 percent of respondents chose tap-and-pay credit cards and 24 percent chose mobile payments, with only six percent opting for cash. In fact, a report published by global consultancy A.T. Kearney says that we may have the first cashless society in just five years, running only on the card and digital payments.

2021 will mean service providers will introduce more advanced digital payment offerings. These technologies will help improve security through real-time detection and prevention of frauds and security breaches, provide instant round-the-clock-support to prevent payment delays and resolve disputes, automate processes for swift and seamless transactions, and utilize invaluable BI data and advanced analytics to create a more personalized customer experience. AI will also help in evaluating loan eligibility, putting in place rewards systems, optimizing sales and inventory management, and more.

Bring on 2021

2020 has arguably been one of the most mentally and physically challenging years in recent human history – a year that most of us want to move on from. And 2021 brings all the exciting opportunities we’ve been hoping for, especially with technology growing by leaps and bounds.

At Alepo, we’re proud to be building software in these transformative times to help businesses overcome their challenges. We’re thrilled at the prospect of partnering in your success, whether you’re planning to introduce any of our forecasted trends for the year, overhaul your network, introduce new services, or launch a new network. Reach out today to see how we can help you in your network’s journey to success.

Reach out today to see how we can help you in your network’s journey to success.

Gayatri Sarang

Gayatri Sarang

Lead Content and Engagement Specialist – Marketing

Gayatri is part of the content and communications brigade at Alepo. Having locked focus on the telecom domain in recent years, she has vast and diverse experience in writing for leading publications. She moonlights as a volunteer urban wildlife rehabber and is a passionate baker.

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