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For many, the promise of 5G has them thinking about loading websites and videos faster on their devices, as well as wider mobile coverage, and better connectivity. In reality, however, the promise of 5G is cloud-based and services driven.
Like most other tech advancement these days, 5G is dependent on a combination of cloud native technologies and automation. Not only do these solutions tackle the lack of diversity in the 5G supply chain and reduce reliance on high-risk vendors but, crucially, ensure that
5G provides fast and effective response times across sectors where there’s a heavy influx of data traffic, like healthcare and emergency services. Thus, much of the success of 5G will depend on how providers approach the new-to-telco cloud technology and how well they execute on it.
No doubt, we find ourselves at an inflection point in the adoption of 5G. Either operators embrace this change and find smart ways to monetise services, or they struggle to survive. However, whether it is the opportunity or the threat that drives the change, the possibilities become exponential.
Not just another ‘G’
The rise of mobile telephone and fixed and mobile broadband over the last 20 years has meant strong growth for telecom companies in all major markets. However, we have reached a saturation point of per call, per minute, per megabyte charging that leads to a global growth rate forecast to be less than 1% across the industry. This is a big driver in providers’ desire to understand and monetise 5G.
5G’s sub-millisecond enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable connectivity has the potential to revolutionise the industrial enterprise. At the same time, network slicing will change how operators serve multiple customer or markets with tailored connectivity and applications suited to their needs. But this only works if the 5G core network is based on a cloud architecture that is automated and agile.
5G was conceived as a cloud-native technology and to be done right, and deliver revenue growth, providers will have to adopt next generation cloud operating practices.
Embracing its potential
The fabric of networks has changed in fundamental ways. While networks still have boxes and cables, the nature of those boxes, and the control systems and applications running them, have changed. There is no longer a physical box to touch or reboot; it is all software-based and this type of architecture must be automated.
This warm embrace of cloud-based automation has already seen success in the web scale cloud companies that we use every day. They have set the bar high, and the telco industry needs to develop a web scale mindset, to match the tools available, and to fully embrace the cloud technology that 5G requires to reach its full potential.
While 5G has been a buzzword for many years, we now have the infrastructure to embrace its potential.
From the ground up
At the centre of creating a more sophisticated and secure network is a 5G standalone cloud native core. It is, as the name would suggest, the brains of the whole operation. Its control panel is where automation and scale come together to meet the expected growth in 5G subscribers and connected devices.
It needs to be architected from the ground up on cloud components that provide speed, scale, and security across the whole network. As more network function is added to this core, there will be a corresponding increase in operational needs and traditional manual practices will not keep up. This is where automation becomes key. Automated workflows will be essential to match the real time, dynamic manner of 5G capabilities.
Operational capabilities that support the future network infrastructure will be critical building blocks in enabling applications and services on top of 5G networks and ultimately monetising the services.
The UK Government itself has set out its ambition for the majority of the UK population to be covered by a 5G signal by 2027 and through its Diversification Strategy, has helped lay the groundwork for future growth in the telecoms supply chain while ensuring it is resilient to future trends and threats. As 5G establishes itself as the next enabling technology for the transformation of industry and society, it is now up to service providers to consider how they can most effectively leverage this cloud native technology with its promise of true web scale service agility.
5G is about more than bigger bandwidth and faster connection. It will be application and services driven, with many unexpected possibilities discovered along the way.