Thursday, February 27, 2020

Opportunities on the Path to 5G

Three steps to building an open telecom framework for current and future success


By Peter Man


Offering speed, bandwidth, and low latency, 5G promises to support innovative, next-generation services. According to the International Data Corporation, the mobile segment represented 53.1% of the worldwide telecommunications services market in 2018 and is expected to post a compound annual growth rate of 1.4% over the 2019 to 2023 period. This growth is primarily driven by increasing mobile data usage and the expansion of IoT.


The technology is also set to supercharge a range of other industries and enable new smart city services, including smart meters, AR/VR, driverless cars, robotic surgery, remote healthcare, smart factories, and more. Despite its vast potential, the path to 5G also brings daunting challenges.


As telecommunication service providers prepare for 5G, finding a way to stay competitive during this transition has become an urgent need. An open platform with an agile process for delivering new services to support customer needs is vital. With the expectation that consumer demand for mobile bandwidth will only continue to scale, telecoms must cost-effectively expand their networks, while improving user experience, should they want to succeed in this new landscape.


5G networks are considerably more complex than their predecessors. It is already clear that the changes ahead will overwhelm today’s talent pools and network management tools. Higher levels of network intelligence and automation will be required, as well as developers with new cloud programming and engineering skills.


A secure foundation of open platforms


Moving to an open, cloud-native infrastructure will help telecoms become more competitive now and prepare for 5G tomorrow. An open-source, virtualized network infrastructure allows telecoms to upgrade more easily and add new containerized services and technologies like 5G and IoT, while using the same underlying infrastructure.


As such, companies working to maximize the potential of the 5G transition should take the following considerations into account to facilitate an effective and future-proof telecom framework.


Enable network functions virtualization (NFV)


Virtualizing network infrastructure can alleviate many of the challenges posed by legacy environments, and open technologies are essential for NFV implementation. The first step is introducing a reliable, hybrid cloud platform to help telecoms build a fully open, edge-computing architecture, reducing time-to-market for new services without sacrificing existing investments.


The foundation for NFV is, therefore, a secure, scalable platform for building public and private clouds that deliver flexibility and growth.


Embrace container technology to develop new apps


Open container platforms and platform-as-a-service tools allow telecoms to quickly develop, host, scale, and deliver apps on the cloud. Container technology enables apps to be strategically deployed and moved across environments to keep up with demand.


In the context of the shift to 5G, having an integrated environment for building and deploying containerized applications can enable telecoms to use modern app development approaches to create compelling new services.


Support and build automation technologies


Automation technologies help service providers rapidly and economically deploy new services to an ever-increasing number of subscribers, while saving operational costs.


As networks and infrastructure become more complex in the 5G environment, greater automation is needed to ensure that multi-vendor deployments and distributed architectures are secure and compliant.


In the short term, open and connected systems can help telecoms increase revenue, retain customers, and improve relationships with suppliers and vendors. The move to an open infrastructure can also enable automation and support the rapid rollout of innovative new services, laying the groundwork for the dramatic changes that 5G will bring.


About the Author


Peter is the General Manager for Red Hat in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. He has more than two decades of IT industry experience and has established a strong reputation in Hong Kong’s open source community. Previously with Novell and IBM, he has a proven track record for building high performing teams. Peter holds a string of academic qualifications, including a Masters in Computer Science from Texas A&M University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Boise State University.

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