Aman Brar, VP of Global Solutions & Global Alliances at Openwave Mobility explains the launch of the 5G Cloud Data Management Playbook 2019. The book is exclusively for mobile operators and can be downloaded here.
The impending rollout of 5G is disrupting many aspects of the telecoms infrastructure, not least the ways in which data is managed. The requirements of NFV, fundamental to 5G, for example, mean that operators are rapidly having to move to cloud-based stateless applications, while facing hugely increased expectations from their customers in terms of service delivery. At the same time, OTT players and new entrants to the market are capitalising on 5G’s promise of high speed and ultra-low latency to expand their service offerings, and are preparing to harvest all the data they can access in order to improve the customer experience and generate additional revenue.
5G is about to redraw the telecoms map, and successfully navigating this unchartered new territory will require operators to radically shift their mind-set. Moving from bare metal to cloud and embracing the concept of stateless servers, finding new and more efficient ways of managing and processing data, and enabling rapid access to data by authorised applications: these are just three of many reasons for operators to change the way they think about data management.
Indeed, the advent of 5G has seen an evolution from managing just subscriber data to managing a whole variety of data, including information on policy, session, application and configuration. And while some this data may be stateful, increased virtualisation means much of it will be stateless. All of it, however, must be made available in real time to authorised applications, which may or may not reside in the cloud.
Given the huge complexity of these and other new data management requirements, a ‘common’ data approach is therefore recommended, in which the introduction of a unified, distributed cloud-based data layer will prove beneficial across a range of operators’ concerns, including network automation and efficiency, latency and mobile edge computing, and monetisation and secure data sharing.
Automation and efficiency
Complexity can be inefficient. Monolithic applications, for example, such as those used by third and fourth network generations to store subscriptions and subscriber state, must be horizontally partitioned for scalability, and users must be assigned a pool of servers or an application server instance, a collection of SQL server databases run by a solitary SQL server service. What’s more, control plane calls must be directed to the correct server, subscriber-aware load balancing must be implemented, and decisions made as to which network element instances will serve which subscribers. The subsequent addition or removal of subscribers can then cause network elements to become imbalanced, resulting in the need for complex subscriber balancing operations.
The situation is far more efficient, however, in a network in which subscription data and subscriber state are externalised and stored in a unified data layer. As network applications become stateless, it is possible for any network application instance to service any given subscriber simply by pulling the subscription and subscriber from the data layer. As a result, the network can be fully automated.
On the edge
Use cases that depend on 5G’s ultra-low latency capabilities, such as connected drones or surveillance technology, will require application servers to be deployed close to the network edge in order to get responses with minimum lag, and some may need access to subscription data in order to enrich the quality of experience.
By replicating only that data which is needed at the edge, a data layer which supports multi-tier deployment scenarios will facilitate this requirement even more quickly and efficiently. This data layer can allow operators can enrich other applications too, by providing a mechanism for copying new subscriber context parameters from the edge to the core.
Often siloed within various different network applications, the extraction and consolidation of data can be difficult and, if not done in real time, can prove costly as the value of the data depreciates. However, by providing a platform on which subscriber, session, application and policy data can be consolidated in near real-time and shared appropriately, a unified data layer is able to solve this problem, effectively managing access to all types of an operator’s data by authorised third parties.
What’s more, with regulations such as the recently introduced GDPR increasing the focus on subscriber privacy, a data layer can also provide operators with a fully compliant framework for managing personal identifiable information that is secure, regulated and transparent, allowing subscribers to see what information is shared with OTTs.
Migration and transformation
5G represents a seismic shift in the telecoms landscape, and one that will present operators with both challenges and opportunities as they migrate their networks to the next generation, and transform from bare metal to a software-based core. Traditional ways of managing data will not be sufficient in meeting the demands of 5G and the expectations of subscribers, and a new approach is now necessary. The introduction of a distributed, cloud-based common data layer will allow operators to better automate network processes, improve efficiencies, monetise subscriber data and, ultimately, capitalise on the advantages that 5G offers.
The Telecoms.com Intelligence Annual Survey asked 1500 telecoms professionals about their views on digital transformation. The results are contained in a report, produced with Openet, that provides answers to the following questions:
1. How much revenue will telcos expect to generate from digital services in 2019 and in 2022?
2. How far along their digital transformation journey will telcos be in 2019 and how much progress do they expect by 2022?
3. What are the services, enabled by digital transformation, that will generate the most revenues for telcos?
4. What’s the most pragmatic and effective way to upgrade / replace legacy systems?
Telenor Myanmar recently conducted trial of Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology on 4G LTE network with Ericsson.
The successful trial was conducted in Mandalay in early November with a scope to test and highlight the NB-IoT capability of the Telenor Myanmar LTE Network with the initial focus being to demonstrate the capability of NB-IoT devices on IoT platforms. Devices and use cases were tested on infrastructure such as transport vehicles for mobility and business establishments for ambient sensors within the trial zone.
The advanced NB -IoT network technology once deployed, will help accelerate the proliferation of IoT devices, said Ericsson. It will further develop the IoT ecosystem in the country by offering superior coverage, long battery life and cost-effective solutions to enterprises. The NB-IoT network will amplify opportunity for solutions such as Smart Metering for utilities, Smart Parking, Smart Bins, smart environmental sensors for smart cities, logistic solutions as well as other applications in environment management to name a few.
Comarch announced new research exploring the challenges faced by telco CTOs and CIOs when it comes to implementing new technologies.
The research found that senior IT decision-makers in the telecoms industry are primarily concerned with whether their companies were ready to implement these technologies, meet the challenges they represent, and capitalise on the opportunities they offer.
Comarch commissioned business intelligence firm Informa to poll its audience of C-suite and IT professionals to explore the subjects at the top of CTOs’ and CIOs’ worry lists, covering the IoT, assurance, and virtualisation, each of which is acknowledged as fundamental to underpinning the upcoming 5G. The research revealed that, while high importance was attached to each of these technologies, use cases and implementation approaches differed from company to company.
IoT use cases
43 percent of respondents cited connected cars as the most promising use case for IoT technology, while 35 percent suggested smart metering and logistics. In real terms, however, the latter tend to demand high capacity and only need low data transmission bandwidth, in comparison to the former’s need for the ultra-low latency that can only be delivered by a fully deployed end-to-end 5G network. As such, CTOs and CIOs view these use cases as ‘low-hanging fruit’ in terms of short-term IoT deployments, despite their immediate appeal.
It was acknowledged that the wealth of data generated by the myriad connected devices in the IoT represents a potential new revenue stream. 28 percent of respondents chose to provide platforms for third-party services; just over a quarter (26%) chose to develop their own applications and IoT services, while just under a quarter (24%) chose to monetise connectivity. Around one in five organisations, however, had no plan in place to monetise it.
AI and assurance
CTOs and CIOs recognise that AI is imperative in supporting their system assurance processes; according to one respondent, “we realise that with the amount of data, AI is a must.” Predictive analytics was seen as the most promising AI application to support service assurance (76%), followed by analytics at the network edge (54%), and automated root cause analysis. It was additionally found that almost half of all respondents (49%) saw that “recent investments in service assurance have had a strong return on investment for our business”.
Network function virtualisation (NFV) has been heralded as a key enabler of 5G, but the pace of its adoption has relatively slow due largely due to a fragmentation of standards. The emergence of a number of open source platforms is set to rectify this, however, and is an option being actively pursued by many CTOs and CIOs.
Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) was the most popular NFV platform, selected by 57% of respondents, followed by Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) at 46%, and Open Network Operating System (ONOS) at 41%. Nearly half of respondents (48%) use vendor customised versions of open sources, while those who plan to adopt upstream open source directly and those respondents who were not sure were equally distributed at 26% each.
Elisa has secured a EUR 100 million loan from the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) o support its investments in 5G networks in Finland and in Estonia.
Elisa is Finland’s largest operator investor, with over EUR 200 million in capital expenditure investments annually in Finnish telecommunications infrastructure. In the coming years, investments are directed especially towards building the 5G network, starting at the beginning of 2019.
Parallel Wireless announced that it was selected by Wisconsin-based wireless carrier Cellcom for their network expansion.
Parallel Wireless says that it makes deployments as easy and as cost-effective as Wi-Fi and will connect both consumer and business subscribers in the markets that Cellcom serves. Its unique, low cost, low footprint and virtualized multi-technology solution helps service providers to deliver coverage by making deployments easy and affordable to install and maintain.
The Company claims that its all-in-one multi-technology software-defined compact base station Converged Wireless System (CWS) maximizes data and voice coverage for superior quality of experience for Cellcom's end users. HetNet Gateway (HNG) is an ALL G software platform for configuring, optimizing, and automating the network. It also provides seamless mobility and low latency for the best subscriber experience for Cellcom customers today on 4G and on 5G in the future.
Another benefit is the ease of installing and maintaining CWS. This feature enables much more cost-effective networks for places where business models are challenging and allows faster return on network investment for mobile operators and prepares them for 5G.
Turkcell has chosen Metrological to deliver the integrated TV App Store, available to all Turkcell TV+ subscribers.
Turkcell will have a unique TV App Store personalized for their TV+ subscribers across Turkey. Leveraging Metrological’s Application Platform, Turkcell is able to source localized and international content from Metrological’s App library of more than 300 TV apps. Turkcell will have the ability to anticipate on rapidly changing content needs from its subscribers using Metrological’s back-office for real time onboarding, monetizing and optimizing the app lifecycle.
The Metrological product suite consists of an Application Platform that provides the content for operators to build their own localized TV App Store. It also includes a back-office product suite for onboarding,monetizing and optimizing the life cycle of web and native apps across set-top boxes. The Metrological Application Platform provides APIs to support features such as unified search, contextuality, second screen and voice control. The open SDK enables quick app development for content service providers,app developers and operators.
TIM has partnered with Qualcomm and Ericsson to complete a 5G NR video call in the millimiter wave (mmWave) frequency band in Rome.
In particular, the 5G video call was conducted using a mobile smartphone form-factor test device powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem while the network infrastructure components of were made available by Ericsson.
This is a new milestone that will soon lead to the commercial use of 5G mmWave technology in Europe, says TIM in a statement.
During the event, the first 5G compatible smartphone was showcased, along with the first solutions and services of TIM’s new ultra-fast mobile network. These included a remote-driven car; a remote visit of museums and artworks (thanks to virtual reality); a remote control of industrial robots; and a remote tactile control systems and multiplayer interactive video games in augmented reality.