With Mobile World Congress on the horizon, this is the time of year technologists often can’t wait to start talking about what comes next. But this year has to be different - talk must quickly become action. Because from what we’re hearing, while operators are eager to adopt and continue driving key tech innovations, they are finding it challenging to make it all work together in their networks.
So in 2018, we must also not lose focus of the big advancements from recent years that operators are eager to deploy today. With that in mind, here’s Vasona’s take on the top priorities and innovations that we think will make mobile’s biggest tech moments of the year.
#1: The Great Network Consolidation
While we wait to see if a long anticipated mobile mega-merger shakes out in 2018, consolidation in the network is inevitable. Vendors have raced an expanding set of solutions to market, leaving operators scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to actually deploy all this disparate tech. In the meantime, the Microsofts and Amazons of the world are breathing down their necks, amassing global scale and building data centers closer to the network edge. In 2018, vendors must come together to help make virtual infrastructures easier to deploy, disparate tech easier to consolidate and ROI outcomes more obvious. That is the only way valuable technologies will truly gain adoption.
#2: Open Source In (Almost) Everything
As much as we’d like to think that SDN, NFV and MEC are each ready to independently support any need on the path to 5G, operators aren’t so sure. All signs are pointing to operator-driven technology interoperability gained by turning core functionalities over to the open source community. Increasing tier-one operator involvement in movements like ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform) will necessitate vendors getting involved, opening internal elements of solutions that, while standards-based, today remain proprietary. This will have trickle-down impacts, including advancing technology development and deployment for emerging markets.
#3: Video Becomes A Bigger “Thing"
As mobile-delivery services expand across categories that include Internet of Things (IoT), industrial IoT, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and more, the demands of pervasive mobile video will grow. When IoT networks are discussed, it’s often in the context of meeting low-latency, low-bandwidth demands. But if recent RFPs from operators and verticals are any indicator, video will quickly move onto these networks as well. An expanding range of use cases will need support, such as sharing video between autonomous vehicles, enterprise AR use cases like remote maintenance and repair, and enhanced security and surveillance. These use cases mandate improved networking architectures, including video streams being processed at the edge, using multi-access edge computing (MEC) to locally break out relevant IoT traffic so it can be handled differently and bridging traffic at the mobile network edge within the RAN. In 2018, we’ll see firsthand that video is not just about entertainment, and if IoT networks don’t plan properly to accommodate it, they’ll be quickly overwhelmed.
#4: The Edge Gets Its Breakout Moment
It’s coming. A proof of concept here, a field trial there -multi-access edge computing (MEC) staked its claim in the mobile universe during 2017, serving up an expanding range of use cases, including throughput guidance. From more efficient IoT deployments to better video streaming, even in congested cells, we’re seeing the true possibilities of edge-based deployments. 2018 will be the year we see commercial deployments turned up, securing MEC’s status as an enduring technology that is here for the long-haul to pave the path to 5G.
#5: Redefining the “E” In E-Sports
If you can’t tell by now, at Vasona Networks, we are extremely bullish on the role of the edge in powering mobile’s next big moments. In 2018, we’ll hear a lot more about the role the edge will play in powering mobile sports experiences. Electronic sports, also known as “e-sports” is growing massively as a business, but is still largely confined to venues with local broadband infrastructure. The edge will free e-sport events to take place anywhere, expanding the range of devices and locations that can participate by taking on some of the low-latency, processor-heavy demands that live, multi-player gaming typically requires.
#6: Fixed wireless pushes further into the home
4G wireless is already meeting the common connectivity needs of devices at home. But wireless is just getting started on this front. By the end of the year, we expect that mobile networks will start servicing more in-home devices in a bid to offer a real competitive alternative to wireline and cable broadband. Network technologies that understand what type of service subscribers are accessing and how to best utilize the cell to meet demands will play a key supporting role.
Making 2018 successful in mobile will mean doing the hard work of ensuring operators can easily put into the field what innovators put out into the market. If 2017 was any indication, we’re certainly on the right track. Now, it’s all about execution. We’ll be demonstrating how we plan to do our part at our booth at Mobile World Congress (Hall 6, M40). Looking forward to seeing you there!
About The Author:
Rui Frazao is CTO of Vasona Networks and leads the company’s technical innovation, supporting mobile network operator efforts to deploy next-gen networks and provide subscribers with the best broadband experiences. He works with Vasona customers worldwide on advancing mobile-edge software solutions. Rui spent nearly 15 years with Vodafone, most recently as director of network engineering for efforts across Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary and the Czech Republic. His work with Vodafone included implementing the industry’s earliest VoLTE deployments and launched the first virtualized network core in Europe. Rui previously held roles with Cisco, payment network SIBS and the Lisbon Stock Exchange. He has completed studies spanning business strategies, computer systems, electrical engineering and telecommunications.