5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

 

19th of October 2020

Introduction

For leading mobile network operators (MNOs), 5G is mainly about offering high-speed connectivity to consumers, on devices that support fifth-gen network services. To smoothly transition from the existing legacy core to 5G, MNOs have two pathways: Non-Standalone (NSA) or Standalone (SA) architecture. And while they are both means to the same end, NSA and SA are structurally and functionally different.

NSA allows operators to leverage their existing network investments in communications and mobile core instead of deploying a new core for 5G. 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) can be deployed and supported by the existing Evolved Packet Core (EPC), lowering CAPEX and OPEX. To further lower network operating costs, operators can adopt the virtualization of Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) along with software-defined networking (SDN). These initial steps will help quickly unlock new 5G revenue streams and offer faster data speeds.

5G SA is a completely new core architecture defined by 3GPP that introduces major changes such as a Service-Based Architecture (SBA) and functional separation of various network functions. Its architecture has the definite advantage of end-to-end high-speed and service assurance, particularly useful for MNOs who are set to commence new enterprise 5G services such as smart cities, smart factories, or other vertically integrated market solutions. The deployment model enables the rapid introduction of new services with quick time-to-market. However, it means additional investment and complexities of running multiple cores in the network.

Architecturally, NSA includes a new RAN, deployed alongside the 4G or LTE radio with the existing 4G Core or EPC. 5G SA, on the other hand, includes a new radio along with the 5G Core (5GC), comprising completely virtualized cloud-native architecture (CNA) that introduces new ways to develop, deploy, and manage services. 5GC supports high-throughput for accelerated performance than the 5G network demands. Its virtualized service-based architecture (SBA) makes it possible to deploy all 5G software network functions using edge computing.

5G software network functions using edge computingAn overview of 5G SA and 5G NSA deployment options (Source: GSMA) 

5G Standalone (SA) vs 5G Non-Standalone (NSA)

5G SA Architecture

According to a survey, 37% of MNOs will deploy 5G SA within two years; 27% of operators plan to deploy 5G SA within 12 to 18 months with an additional 10% increase within 24 months. 5G SA architecture will allow operators to address the fifth generation of mobile communications, including enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-to-machine communications, massive IoT, and ultra-low latency communications.

Standalone 5G NR comprises a new end-to-end architecture that uses mm-Waves and sub-GHz frequencies and this mode will not make use of the existing 4G LTE infrastructure. The SA 5G NR will use enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and huge machine-type communications (mMTC) to implement multi-gigabit data rates with improved efficiency and lower costs.

5G SA also enables more advanced network slicing capabilities, helping operators rapidly transition to both 5G New Radio (NR) and 5G as the core network. Network slicing, URLLC, and mMTC bring ultra-low latency along with a wide range of next-gen use cases like remote control of critical infrastructure, self-driving vehicles, advanced healthcare, and more. However, the NR advanced cases are not backward compatible with the EPC, which is the framework that provides converged voice and data on a 4G LTE network. The level of reliability and latency that 5G provides will be indispensable for handling smart-grid control machines, industrial automation, robotics, and drone control and coordination.

5G NSA Architecture

NSA 5G NR is considered as the early version of SA 5G NR mode, in which 5G networks are supported by existing LTE infrastructure. It fundamentally concentrates on eMBB, where 5G-supported handsets and devices will make use of mmWave frequencies for increased data capacity but will continue to use existing 4G infrastructure for voice communications.

NSA helps MNOs launch 5G quickly for eMBB to get a competitive edge in the telecom market. NSA also helps leverage its existing LTE/VoLTE footprint to maximize the LTE installed base and boost capacity while increasing delivery efficiency. It will not support network slicing, URLLC, and mMTC, but its higher broadband speeds will enable services such as video streaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and an immersive media experience.

Non-Standalone 5G NR will provide increased data-bandwidth by using the following two new radio frequency ranges:

  • Frequency range 1 (450 MHz to 6000 MHz) – overlaps with 4G LTE frequencies and is termed as sub-6 GHz. The bands are numbered from 1 to 255.
  • Frequency range 2 (24 GHz to 52 GHz) – is the main mmWave frequency band. The bands are numbered from 257 to 511.

Technical Differences between 5G SA and 5G NSA

The main difference between NSA and SA is that NSA provides control signaling of 5G to the 4G base station, whereas in SA the 5G base station is directly connected to the 5G core network and the control signaling does not depend on the 4G network. In simple terms, NSA is like adding a solid-state drive to an old computer, which can improve the system’s performance, while SA is like replacing it with a new computer that has newer technologies and optimum performance.

Some benefits include:

  • NSA is extremely low in cost compared to SA.
  • NSA eases 5G network deployments as it reuses existing 4G facilities, thus allowing rapid time to market for 5G mobile broadband.
  • With NSA, the deployment is faster and time-to-market is lower, as 4G locations can be used to install 5G radio. SA requires building 5G base stations and the back-end 5G core network to fully realize the characteristics and functions of 5G.
  • SA involves a 5G core with SBA for scalability and flexibility to deliver a superfast network with ultra-low latency for advanced 5G use cases.

5G Usage Scenarios in NSA and SA Operation

The requirements of 5G NR for the SA provide a complete set of specifications for the 5G core network that goes beyond NSA. The three major usage scenarios defined for 5G by the 3GPP and GSMA include:

  1. Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
  2. Ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC)
  3. Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)

Enhanced Mobile Broadband with 5G Major 5G usage scenarios

The Future of 5G Includes NSA and SA

Early adopters of 5G primarily focus on NSA deployments as they compete to deliver 5G speeds with a quick time to market. These MNOs can move to SA-based architecture over a period of time, which most plan to do. NSA deployment remains a mainstream solution given its ability to handle both 4G- and 5G-based traffic, keeping these early adopters ahead of their competition as they undertake their network transformation. 5G devices are not widespread so the need for SA-based architecture is still nascent.

In the future, the convergence of NSA and SA will help operators move to a full 5G network. A complete virtualized 5G architecture will allow MNOs to migrate and choose varied functionalities of their existing NSA solution to the 5GC platform, as new 5G services are launched, allowing them to monetize their investment gradually rather than move all at once and enabling them to recover their costs over time.

Although SA is a more mature network architecture compared to NSA, NSA will continue to be the more commonly chosen path to 5G. All NSA single-mode 5G phones launched this year or early next year will be valid for a decade, and as SA architecture permeates, more and more 5G SA devices will be in our homes and businesses.

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.

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Network Functions Virtualization: Basics to Benefits

Network Functions Virtualization: Basics to Benefits

Network Functions Virtualization: Basics to Benefits

 

 

03rd of September 2020

 

 

 

 

With rising competition from operators and OTT players, the major differentiator for telecommunications service providers today is delivering disruptive and innovative services. To support these services, they need a more stable, reliable, and scalable network, such as one enabled by Network Function Virtualization (NFV). NFV has been an industry buzzword for some time now, so is it all that it’s cut out to be? From its benefits to its applications, we break it down for you to decide how to use it for your network.

Key Components of NFV

A modern network architecture technique, NFV virtualizes entire network functions using standard vendor-neutral hardware and IT infrastructure, facilitating improved communications services.
Key components of the NFV framework include:

Virtualized network functions (VNFs) are software implementations of various network functions that are deployed in network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVi), that were historically coupled with proprietary hardware appliances. VNFs run on virtual machines and are hosted on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing devices, network hardware, and storage infrastructure. Common VNFs components include virtualized routers, DPI, firewalls, edge devices, signaling devices, load balancers, network address translation (NAT) services, WAN accelerators, and more. The primary hypervisors are OpenStack and VMware.

NFV infrastructure (NFVi) is the environment where VNFs run and comprises the hardware and software components from different vendors that are essential to successfully run the virtual network.

NFV management and orchestration (NFV-MANO) architectural framework is the key element of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV architecture. It is a collection of all functional blocks, data repositories used by these blocks, and reference points and interfaces through which these functional blocks exchange information for the purpose of managing and orchestrating NFVi and VNFs. NFV-MANO includes the following components:

  • NFV Orchestrator (NFVO): a central component of an NFV-based solution that standardizes virtual network functions to improve the interoperability of software-defined network (SDN) elements. It orchestrates network resources for a broad range network services, enabling real-time automation, monitoring, and service assurance.
  • VNF Manager (VNFM): responsible for life cycle management, including deployment, monitoring, scaling, and removal of VNFs on a VIM.
  • Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM): responsible for managing, controlling, and monitoring virtual resources and their association with physical resources. It maintains the complete inventory of NFVi.

Together, these components replace traditional architecture to build a high-performing, reliable, and scalable network that delivers low-latency real-time applications while improving the operational efficiency of telecom services.

Top Six Benefits of NFV

NFV enables the swift creation of new services and facilitates rapid deployment in mobile and fixed networks. Its key benefits include:

Hardware flexibility and vendor independence

Legacy vendors offer their network functions on custom and dedicated hardware that is not easy to upgrade and demands a large investment of time and money. With NFV, network functions are virtualized and run on generic commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, enabling service providers to share hardware across multiple network functions, giving them the advantage of software decoupling and building flexible virtual infrastructure that saves space, power, time, and costs. Operators can now mix and match vendors and functions for different features, software licensing costs, post-deployment support models, roadmaps, and more.

Faster service life cycle

Unlike physical hardware, VNFs can rapidly be created and removed on the fly. A VNF’s lifecycle is shorter and more dynamic since these functions are often added when needed and easily provisioned through automated software tools that do not require any onsite activity. In effect, NFV helps network operators commission or decommission services with the touch of a button without the need for physical shipping or delivery truck, dramatically reducing deployment time from weeks to minutes.

Rapid deployment of solutions

With the decoupling of software functionality and physical hardware, operators can deploy new solutions and put features into production rapidly, without requiring lengthy change requests or new appliances from legacy vendors. This expedited deployment process further facilitates NFV’s inherent support to use open source tools and software services.

Scalability and elasticity

Service providers always want to ensure they will be able to meet new requirements as well as scale up their capacity as their network grows. Doing so with traditional network equipment requires time, planning, and monetary investment. NFV eliminates these concerns as it enables capacity changes by offering a way to expand and reduce the resources used by VNFs. It enables scalability and automation, improves the flexibility of network service provisioning, and reduces the time needed to deploy new services. It efficiently ensures elasticity by offloading the VNF workload and spinning a new instance to implement the same network function and sharing the load with an existing VNF.

Lower energy consumption 

NFV helps reduce energy usage by exploiting the power management features of standard servers and storage, as well as workload consolidation and location optimization. For example, based on virtualization techniques, it is possible to focus the workload on a smaller number of servers during offpeak hours (such as nighttime) so that all other servers can be switched off or put on energy-saving mode.

Operational efficiency and agility

NFV is inherently automation-friendly and can maximize the benefits of using Machine to Machine (M2M) tools. For instance, a device management automation tool can be used to determine the need for more memory in a network function. NFV helps reduce downtime and also assists operators with various network maintenance activities. It helps temporarily reduce and free up existing VNFs for maintenance activities by spinning to a new VNF. This helps achieve In-Service-Software-Upgrade (ISSU), enables 24×7 self-healing networks, and minimizes operational loss of revenue due to network outages.

Leading NFV Applications

The benefits of NFV can be realized across a variety of network functions that can operate almost entirely in the cloud without the need for physical hardware. Some of its most popular applications include:

Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC)

Virtualized EPC helps deliver superior quality of service (QoS) by dynamically scaling to meet the growing traffic. vEPC ensures lower OPEX and TCO while ensuring faster services to the market, consistent service availability, and improved network efficiency. Deployed in independent slices of the controllers, user planes, and management planes, vEPC is generally free of the architectural restrictions possessed by the traditional nodes-based EPC.

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC)

MEC is an alternative approach to the cloud environment. It brings data storage and computational capabilities closer to the data source, which is considered as an edge of the network. It enables computing resources to be distributed along the communication path by decentralizing the cloud infrastructure. The source of data or network edge can be the users’ devices, IoT device, router, or CSP’s server infrastructure, which helps reduce latency and save bandwidth. This minimizes long-distance communication between a client and server and most user actions are processed in real-time.

Virtual Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE)

vCPE, or cloud-CPE as it is also called, essentially transforms hardware-based operations like routing and security into virtual software-based operations, delivering them to the branch or edge networks. Traditionally, CPEs are task-specific with one device dedicated to performing one service. This includes VPNs, firewalls, routers, and more, all of which are hosted through a remote service provider or centralized management platform. It offers many benefits, including easier and swifter deployment, scalability, lower investment and operational cost, improved service flexibility, and scope for innovation.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)

Also known as a content distribution network, a CDN is a network of proxy servers and data centers, distributed across different locations to ensure high availability and performance. CDN operators enable the distribution of most content available on the Internet today, such as streaming media, web applications, downloadable content such as software, media files, documents, and occasionally security-related applications. While they earn revenue from content owners, CDN operators pay a hosting fee to ISPs and network operators.

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)

According to research firm Gartner, over 90%of edge infrastructure refresh initiatives will comprise vCPE and SD-WAN devices by 2023. SD-WAN, as the name implies, employs software-defined means to manage a wide area network. It decouples the control mechanism from network hardware, facilitating simpler management, and more efficient operations. One of its primary applications is enabling the building of WANs with improved performance employing more economically viable commercial Internet access instead of high-cost private technologies.

Virtual AAA (vAAA)

Authentication, Authorization, Accounting (AAA) server can be deployed in an NFVi environment using ETSI-based standard integrations or customized instances provided by the NFVi vendor. Specific and generic VNFs manage the entire AAA lifecycle smoothly. A carrier-grade, high-performing, stateless, and cloud-native AAA (such as Alepo’s) integrates with the 5G core network to perform a host of functions such as slice authentication, authentication and authorization for DNN provisioning, authenticating access from non-3GPP networks, and more.

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)

IMS enables the delivery of secure and reliable multimedia communications services (voice, video, text) over IP networks. Its 3GPP standards-based architectural framework provides a unified infrastructure to connect various devices and networks, standardizing the implementation and management of next-gen mobile networks. The IMS core includes Call Session Control Function (CSCF), Home Subscriber Server (HSS), Media Resource Functions (MRF), Signaling Gateway (SGW), and Media Gateway Control Function (MGCF), all of which together work together to act as the control layer.

Session Border Controllers (SBCs)

SBCs help control and secure IP communications sessions. While they were initially designed for VoIP networks, they are commonly also used for IP video, text messaging, and more for residential as well as enterprise applications. They facilitate communication between different parts of the network. Along with ensuring seamless connectivity, SBCs enable high quality of service, advanced security to protect against frauds and malicious attacks, statistics gathering, and more.

Network Monitoring

Network monitoring checks networking devices and components such as servers, firewalls, switches, routers, VMS, and more for faults and failures. When any discrepancy is noticed, an alert is triggered to notify the system administrators by email and/or SMS, enabling them to swiftly act to improve or rectify the problem. Part of network management, network monitoring optimizes performance, ensures high availability, and minimizes downtime.

Video Servers

Video servers help deliver video content using a host of devices. Broadly speaking, they are used in two key applications: security surveillance and broadcasting. In surveillance, a video server helps capture video using one or more analog and/or digital inputs, enables network connectivity for the analog components to digitize and stream the video over an IP network, and provides users to access it through a web browser or mobile app. In broadcasting, it offers a bidirectional platform to record video as well as ingest video from external sources, stores this video, and enables editing and transferring the final output to multiple video streams.

Service Delivery Platforms

A service delivery platform helps manage and control the entire delivery life cycle, from creation to execution. It provides the architecture for service providers to swiftly develop and launch convergent internet-based multimedia services such as IPTV, VoIP, mobile TV, multi-player video games, and more. Its telecommunications applications include value-added services (VAS), partner management, converged billing, and more. When used in the enterprise domain, it is especially useful as it lets operators run a dedicated platform for each enterprise, offering increased control to their customers. 

Security Accelerator Functions

Over the past decade, the technology protecting virtual and physical tools has considerably evolved, paving the way for virtualizing and, consequently, centralizing security. These network security functions include firewalls, spam protection systems, intrusion detection and prevention systems, virus scanners, and more. Virtual firewalls, for instance, are NFV solutions that protect virtual machines. As technology progresses, more and more of these security functions are expected to be virtualized.

Conclusion

Network Function Virtualization is imperative for operators looking to transform into digital service providers from mere traditional communications service providers. The next-gen NFV applications and use cases help them become successful in the digital era in the face of competition from innovative OTT applications. Plus, from the network operations perspective, virtualization employs an end-to-end service-based approach to replace traditional function-specific hardware, helping telcos achieve five-nines availability, lower CAPEX and OPEX, and ensure rapid time to market of new services. 

Keshav Pareek

Keshav Pareek

Solution Integrator

Keshav is a solution integrator working on DevOps tools and technology, with expertise in virtualization. Over the years, he’s helped facilitate tier-1 telcos to modernize their network functions using NFV-based deployment. Always keeping pace with the latest in the industry and often immersed in reading tech blogs, he spends his free time going on long bike rides in the countryside.

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Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning private 5G success with Compact Core

 

8th of July 2020

 

 

 

5G is set to change the way large and small enterprises operate; from universities, ports, smart cities, factories, farms, and buildings, its use cases can meet all business needs. And the key network component that will enable all the unique features of 5G for these enterprises: Compact Core.

The Compact Core is an industrialized solution designed for enterprises that need carrier-grade network connectivity with a limited resource footprint to deliver services to their users. It is especially useful for those who want private network connectivity, whether it is over LTE or 5G. The deployment involves pre-integrated access and core network components for quick setup and less complex operations.

How the Compact Core benefits an enterprise

The Compact Core is a complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution that includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, which seamlessly works with end devices and the radio access network. It does not impact and is not dependent on external systems or organizations.

Swift deployment

In terms of time, Compact Core deployment is highly efficient. Enterprises can launch a private LTE or 5G network along with mobile broadband and voice services in a single project, saving on the time they would otherwise need to deploy these services individually. Since the solution is pre-integrated, no extensive development, customization, or testing is needed to go live.

Cloud-native benefits

The Compact Core is a modernized software solution that leverages the power of cloud, abstracting the underlying complex functionality. It is the smartest choice when upgrading from legacy telco infrastructure to modern, web-scale, 5G architecture. Capable of serving multiple enterprises, it uses SaaS-based multi-tenant architecture. Each tenant has a dedicated configuration, user management, and can self-service through web portals. This setup offers automated, cost-efficient, and hassle-free operations with dynamic provisioning of core capacity based on individual business requirements.

Flexible footprint

Whether the enterprise wants to deploy securely on-premise or on the public cloud, the modern compact core solution has a small resource footprint and flexibility of deployment modes. An in-memory database and ability to scale up and down sets it apart from legacy telco core solutions.

Role of Alepo’s Compact Core in private 5G enablement

Alepo is a software company that offers Subscriber Data Management and policy network functions for the Compact Core. It manages subscriber identities, service subscriptions, and is responsible for authentication, authorizing secure access to network services. It also includes the web-based Enterprise Self-Service (ESS) Portal that enables enterprises to self-manage SIM cards, end-to-end subscription and device lifecycles, and real-time connection and usage monitoring. Alepo’s pre-integrated partners bring the RAN, end devices, and other infrastructure needed to flip the switch and turn on the 5G network.

Ready for real 5G launch

The Compact Core equips an enterprise to launch its private LTE or 5G services. Essential services include enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), voice calls, and video calls. It can also include services such as push-to-talk or walkie-talkie. Further, users can get 5G benefits such as ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) for M2M and IoT applications.

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G). They are dependent on the 4G core and therefore are not end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is 5G-compliant. All elements are pre-integrated to rapidly enable enterprises to set up a new standalone 5G network with zero dependence on the 4G core.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years building mobile apps 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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How operators can leverage network slicing for 5G monetization

How operators can leverage network slicing for 5G monetization

How operators can leverage network slicing for 5G monetization

 

18th of June 2020

Mobile communication technology has been driving digitization and is now an essential pillar across industries such as manufacturing, automobile, retail, supply chain, transport, healthcare, and more. Different business verticals have varying needs: one sector could require high-bandwidth communication, another may demand ultra-reliable communication, while a third needs extremely low-latency communication. The ideal 5G network will fulfill these diverse requirements at the same time, and this is possible through network slicing.

What is network slicing?

It is theoretically possible to build multiple dedicated networks where each is customized to support the needs of one type of business customer, but this is economically unviable. The most efficient approach is to segment a single physical network into multiple logical networks, each catering to unique service needs. This technique is called network slicing.

Network segmentation is available to an extent in legacy networks through Access Point Names (APNs) and dedicated core networks. But it is now more seamless and practical to use with advances in virtualization technology that is adopted by 5G. 5G networks, along with network slicing, allow business customers to enjoy connectivity in line with unique business specifications that are negotiated with a mobile operator in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The parameters of customization include data speed, quality of service (QoS), latency, reliability, security, and services.

A network slice is an autonomous end-to-end logical network operating on shared physical infrastructure capable of providing the agreed QoS. The scope of the network slice could cover multiple parts of the network, such as a terminal, core network, access network, and transportation network. One network slice includes dedicated and/or shared resources, which can vary in terms of bandwidth, storage, processing power, and more.

From the end-user perspective, the network slice serves as a normal mobile network. A slice often offers seamless and uninterrupted service when a device roams outside the home network.

Potential vertical applications

Network slices can be used for many use cases in several industries such as:

Consumer: enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) for high bandwidth users.

Automotive: ultra-low latency (1 ms), high-availability, and effective isolation from other services for autonomous vehicles.

Logistics: high availability to track goods.

Healthcare: ultra-low latency and high availability for remote surgeries.

Warehouse: low-latency and high-availability for efficient collaboration between smart robots.

Media (entertainment/AR/VR): high-bandwidth for an immersive and seamless experience.

Smart cities, governments, SOS services: dedicated QoS to ensure connectivity of first responders.

Detailed network slicing use cases

Slices have limitless possibilities for industry, some of which include:

Slice for automobiles
Designed for a modern connected vehicle, it enables a highly versatile network that can deliver ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) service for self-driving, car-to-car communication, and emergency services as well as high-throughput for in-car entertainment using high-bandwidth.

Slice for industry automation
A smart factory can use the operator’s URLLC slice for industrial automation, allowing monitoring and control of robotic parts. An edge computing data center (as network resource service) is used to deploy the system.

Slice for massive IoT
An operator can deploy a dedicated slice for IoT users to manage the complex network requirements for a massive IoT device ecosystem. It can have lower latency, and a separate charging and control function to simplify network management and speed-up deployment. This slice can support one million devices per square kilometer.

Slice for live broadcasts in AR/VR
A dedicated high-bandwidth slice can be used by an operator to transmit news and events such as sports and concerts. To manage AR/VR video processing, it can support one-to-many downlink connections with high-density computing. The slice will ensure high-bandwidth and lower-latency QoS.

What capabilities do Alepo’s solutions extend?

Alepo’s 5G Core solution offers converged subscriber data management, policy, charging functions, and 3GPP AAA. It empowers the operator’s network team to create and manage slice profiles, their technical attributes, and associate them with subscriptions or group subscriptions. As a device connects to the network, slice profile details are provisioned towards the network to connect the device to a specific slice based on its service subscription. This empowers operators to create, manage, and charge different slices based on each customer’s business requirements.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years building mobile apps 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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Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

Telecom 2020: Growth Drivers and Trends

 

10th of February 2020

One thing is certain in 2020: if telcos want to embrace new technologies that promise to revolutionize the industry, they will need to invest in infrastructure that enables them to support and monetize these technologies. According to a recent global EY report, telcos will pump more into overhauling their conventional IT infrastructure, making digital transformation a major driver this year.

This new infrastructure paves the way for a host of advanced customer-focused technologies: 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), to name a few. Which ones are right for you and how can you maximize your chances of success? There’s no one answer: the key is finding the right mix of offering relevant to your market and context.

 

mobile money profitability

An analysis from Telecoms CAPEX: Worldwide Trends and Forecasts 2017-2025 shows that digitalization and 5G will be the key drivers affecting CAPEX growth.

Technologies transforming telecom

Here’s a roundup of the year’s biggest trends and what they could mean for you:

5G
Higher speeds and lower latency mean that 5G supports use cases like immersive content (augmented reality, virtual reality) and high-resolution video, helping CSPs deliver an unmatched customer experience to gain a competitive edge. As 5G progresses towards large-scale commercial viability, service providers have begun trials of new use cases, and the results are encouraging them to readily adopt the next-gen technology. As more devices and use cases become viable, the revenue potential continues to grow along with the need for flexible IT systems to support them.

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing in the telecom sector relies heavily on the adoption of data and logic separation principles, SDN/NFV, DevOps, microservices, and more. It gives telcos the flexibility to acquire the corresponding services – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS), which extensively increases scalability, standardization, self-service automation, and reduces operational costs. Telecom players should adapt their IT processes and prepare for related security implications such as identity theft, unauthorized access, relinquished governance and compliance policies, data security and breach of privacy, as well as inconsistency across on-premise and cloud platforms. A recent Telecoms.com report predicts that 5G will mean wide-scale adoption of edge computing. The market is quickly evolving from a centralized to a distributed cloud, and it is expected that this year, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be processed outside of centralized data centers.

Artificial Intelligence
From virtual assistants and chatbots to knowledge engineering, smart machines, and autonomous vehicles, AI has the potential to replicate human cognitive capabilities. It will help telecom service providers offer a transformational customer experience while they manage, optimize, and monetize their infrastructure using different business models. Use cases include network optimization, predictive maintenance, virtual assistants, RPA, and many more.

Blockchain
Blockchain is a gamechanger for securely conducting business with third-parties while reducing costs and increasing revenue. CSPs can leverage blockchain to offer new services using tamperproof transaction management and automated contracting. Applications include 5G enablement, mobile financial services, data management, fraud management, identity management, instantaneous connectivity and transaction, IoT connectivity, number portability, roaming, and more.

Internet of Things
IoT will, in conjunction with 4G and 5G, change how people communicate and interact with technologies opening up new revenue streams for service providers. It is an essential part of capturing and transmitting data to power smart city use cases like smart lighting, smart grids, heating, and lighting. Telcos are applying IoT to home automation and wearable devices to enhance their overall customer experiences. In the coming years, IoT smart sensors will be implemented in gaming environments, healthcare, personal fitness goals, sports, and more.

Cyber Resilience
The telecom industry has always been the most vulnerable target for cyberattacks given the vast amounts of sensitive data stored on various complex networks. A few years ago, for instance, one of the more significant attacks compromised the personal details of 157,000 TalkTalk customers. 5G brings its own set of security threats, and telcos need to prepare for any kind of direct or indirect cyber attack. This means building adequate IT infrastructure and pairing it with talent and processes to support resiliency. Effective cybersecurity must include the implementation of threat detection, incident response methods, and prevention methods.

How to seize these opportunities

Start your digital transformation journey now

A recent report predicts that the OSS/BSS market is expected to grow from USD 2.77 billion in 2019 to USD 8.78 billion by 2026, indicating a significant potential for telcos to support diverse digital services than limited traditional services. To ensure successful digital transformation, CSPs need to upgrade to digital BSS, which can be implemented in phases to pace out investment. This helps operators seize data opportunities as the market evolves and ensures quick time-to-market, monetization, and smooth management of the latest communications services. A next-gen digital BSS stack also facilitates high-value 5G use cases, including IoT (management and offers), and experience-based charging.

Invest in 5G infrastructure
As 5G permeates, mobile operators will need to invest significantly in 5G infrastructure to deliver high data speed, low latency, and to support billions of connected devices. Besides the billions being spent on 5G RAN, the 5G Core is an important investment. 5G Core with cloud-native features expands the service capabilities of telcos; provides scalability and agility; supports 5G network protocols including extensive use of REST APIs and eases migration to service-based architecture.

Ensure strict regulatory policies
According to Statista.com, the number of devices connected to the IoT is expected to reach 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. IoT-enabled networks are more vulnerable to major cyber invasions and crimes. Insufficiently protected devices such as laptops, tablets, routers, webcams, smartwatches, automobiles, and home security systems can be turned into weapons by hackers, cybercriminals, or hostile organizations and states, so it’s essential to implement adequate cybersecurity measures.

Overcome network coverage issues
Having reliable 5G network coverage will require a massive investment of time and finances. Operators can resolve network coverage issues by taking these measures:

Infrastructure sharing alleviates network coverage issues and helps operators deliver better connectivity and network performance by pooling resources to maximize coverage buildout.

The open radio access network (O-RAN) movement is separating the software and physical layers of RAN, eliminating vendor lock-in and allowing budgets to go much further in procuring equipment.

Network monitoring tools remain a powerful mechanism to resolve network issues. These tools provide real-time alerts to the concerned teams when there is downtime, device unavailability, performance issues, or any deviation from an accepted network baseline. Further, network configuration management tools help track any changes in settings and send alerts in case of unauthorized changes while providing a mechanism to roll back to earlier settings.

Also, Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi)/WiFi Calling helps overcome the challenges faced by subscribers due to poor or no network coverage. VoWiFi helps customers make calls and remain always-connected, increasing the quality of services and customer experience.

Automate inventory management
One of the major challenges operators face with 5G is managing billions of IoT devices. Further, with evolving technologies, the CSPs having diverse partnerships require constant efforts to manage and allocate resources and inventory. Inefficient management could lead to complicated and faulty invoices, increased risk of fraud, data breaches, insecure network endpoints, and revenue losses. To avoid these complications, CSPs should have a universal system with legacy and new automated inventory tools, which also maintain an inventory of virtual networking components and logical networks like network slices. Subsequently, deploying a next-gen inventory management system provides real-time inventory information with factual and predictive data, helping make quick allocation decisions that ensure the conservation of investment and help gain an edge over competitors.

Manage partnerships efficiently
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP 5G means new devices, use cases, partnerships, business models. This calls for diverse partnerships inherent in wholesale and 5G networks. With growing complexities of managing diverse partners, it multiplies the challenges to efficiently manage several partners like wholesale, interconnect and roaming partners, OTT/content players, distributors, MVNO, affiliates, and agents. Deploying end-to-end partner management and settlement solution (PMSS) helps operators smoothly and flawlessly manage the complete partner lifecycle and support distinct agreement policies, revenue models, and settlement modes. PMSS plays a vital role in the 5G business and has the highest potential to launch innovative 5G billing use cases like network slicing, device-based experiences, converged offerings, and more.

Digitize customer experience
A Walker study suggests that by 2020, customer experience (CX) will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Enhancing and digitizing the customer experience should top the list for every forward-thinking telco. 5G and IoT will likely emerge as the new battleground, with operators keen to employ new digital business models. And as expectations cross industry boundaries, telcos must remain focused on redefining the CX with more innovation, such as deploying AI-based tools and omnichannel support.

Be prepared for what’s next

5G is expected to significantly change the face of telecommunications. The three main use cases of 5G – Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine-type Communications (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) – promise to deliver superfast wireless connectivity, lower latency, and digital innovations. And while it is expected to revolutionize the customer experience, 5G will stimulate the demand for next-gen devices, adding to severe network densification. With this forecast, CSPs have huge revenue potential from their retail and enterprise clients by digitalizing the customer experience. Additionally, they can offer B2B and B2C clients an enhanced spectrum of services such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), and a host of other leading-edge next-gen services. Operators can unveil the monetization opportunities that 5G promises and achieve a high-level of orchestration and automation with a robust 5G Core solution along with a modern digital BSS stack.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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