Communications service providers are seeking to transform their networks to keep up with the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution - moving from Connected Hardware in the 2G/3G era, to Connected People with LTE/4G, to Connected Everything with the advent of 5G. This transformation across fixed and mobile networks will leverage open components and a multi-vendor ecosystem, breaking vendor lock-in, reducing costs and accelerating service innovation.
#1: Open RAN Will Continue to Gain Traction
Open RAN decouples system components and uses open interfaces to create network solutions from independently developed software and hardware components. It enables mobile operators to leverage a multi-vendor ecosystem to reduce vendor lock-in.
A recent survey of global mobile operators by Heavy Reading indicates that 71% of respondents consider Open RAN to be strategic to their companies’ overall network transformations. Open RAN deployments are already happening for 4G, and we expect to see this expand in 2019 with large-scale deployments aligning with 5G. By leveraging Open RAN solutions, mobile operators will be able to reduce costs, accelerate their 4G/5G RAN initiatives.
VP of Global Marketing & Sales Strategy,
#2: Private LTE Networks and CBRS Will Take Center Stage
We are seeing more and more interest from enterprises to deploy their own private LTE networks to meet their specific requirements for coverage, capacity, and mobility. However, since enterprises do not own spectrum, they are turning to new technologies such as CBRS. The 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) shared spectrum in the U.S. for LTE devices and services enables enterprises and any organization to deploy their own private LTE networks.
In 2018, the CBRS Alliance announced its OnGo™ brand for the productization of CBRS devices and services, as well as its certification program which is important to ensure interoperability between devices. The Alliance has the support of the mobile operator and vendor community on board. We predict that there will be multiple commercial private LTE network deployments leveraging 3.5 GHz in 2019.
#3: Fixed Broadband Becomes More Open and Virtualized
Broadband service providers are turning to open hardware and software to reduce costs. SD-PON (Software-Defined Passive Optical Network) enables these service providers to transition their expensive and proprietary legacy OLTs to white box hardware with SDN control. It delivers to broadband service providers a common software platform that is “access agnostic” and can be used for any broadband access technology.
Multiple service providers around the globe have begun to test out SD-PON solutions for their networks. One service provider that has publicly announced to deploy next-gen fixed broadband access is Deutsche Telekom with its Access 4.0 program. In 2019, we expect to see more broadband service providers announce the results of their SD-PON trials, achieving the benefits or open, virtualized networks, including increased scalability and efficiency, and reduced time-to-market and costs.
#4: Media Intelligence Provides New Opportunities for Service Providers
It’s no surprise that some of the hottest holiday gifts include names such as Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. Speech-enabled applications and services have taken off across a wide variety of vertical markets, including automotive, enterprise, consumer, banking, retail, healthcare, and more. Markets and Markets predicts that Automated Speech Recognition (ASR), Text to Speech (TTS), and the Voice Recognition market is forecasted to grow from $6.7B in 2017 to $18.3B in 2023.
Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are well positioned to take advantage of this trend and disrupt the market with “in-call” speech recognition services. CSPs already have millions of subscribers, and their networks are secure, unlike public cloud-based offerings. However, the traditional ASR deployment models are too expensive, prohibiting service providers from innovating and reaching a mass market. In 2019, we predict that service providers will accelerate their plans to build Media Intelligence into their networks with the deployment of media servers built to process speech ranging from a limited vocabulary of keywords and commands to natural language interaction in the context of voice and video calls. By offering value-added speech recognition applications, service providers will be able to reduce churn, while creating a strong ROI and innovative edge.