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Carrier Networking Service Provider Mobility (4G/5G)
5 minute read

5G Transformation is Hard; Learn How to Make it Easier

As the commodification of the network continues, increasing 5G maturity should be a key priority. Smart partnerships can accelerate progress towards realizing the efficiencies and opportunities presented by 5G.

In This Article

The open nature of 5G technology encourages service providers to move away from the closed systems that have underpinned their models to date and instead focus on bringing a range of stakeholders together on a common platform — all in the name of agility, innovation and scale. 

Doing so is a major shift in thinking, both from a technical and cultural perspective. 5G is a transformational inflection point for operators and their ability to compete in a future in which everything and everybody is connected. 

By and large, the five main shifts operators must take to be more 5G capable are:  

  • Move from a closed to open network architecture.
  • Adopt a more software-centric mindset instead of thinking hardware first.
  • Build integrated networks, not siloed ones.
  • Ditch the multi-month development cycle for a more agile, iterative approach.
  • Fewer legacy operations and more intelligence and automation.

No provider will be able to offer the full extent of 5G possibilities to all its various customer groups right out of the gate. 

5G transformation is a massive exercise in strategic planning, capital allocation and execution. The faster operators can mature their 5G capabilities, the sooner they’ll return value on their investment. But given market dynamics, service providers are finding it hard to move with speed. 

That’s because the economics of 5G will require service providers to rapidly scale out networks while at the same time investing in infrastructure that can provide both immediate and long-term impact. It’s a delicate balancing act that will demand they operate more like a software company — able to rapidly validate and deploy virtualized services or network functions to better meet the fluid needs of enterprise customers. 

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Seven ways WWT can help expedite 5G transformation: 

  1. Balancing current revenue-generation models with tomorrow’s areas of value: The shift to 5G doesn’t mean throttling your current model. We can help you continue to generate revenue from 4G/LTE while building in 5G offerings.
  2. Future readiness: When it comes to proving and scaling technology, our innovative lab, infrastructure, supply chain and implementation services allow us to test solutions, deliver proofs of concept and roll out new infrastructure at speed.
  3. Breadth and depth of expertise: Our wide range of technology expertise can help fill internal gaps.
  4. IT security: The shift from network to IT brings a different set of security considerations. We have the expertise in this area to safeguard your platform.
  5. Cloudification: We can help you adopt cloud operations practices and manage the lifecycle of software components that come into play
  6. Vertical integration: Whatever path you choose, integration will be essential. We can help you open your existing network and connect into different verticals. This will let you serve the diverse needs and requirements across areas like retail (adapting to new, more digital era in the wake of COVID-19), manufacturing (upgrading to industry 4.0), public sector (immense possibilities in civic engagement) and more.
  7. Monetization: 5G is a major investment and we can help you build a business model that turns your investment into a profitable opportunity.

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Get a head start 

Given this context, operators need to spend more time focused on the services that touch their customers and less time on the infrastructure that doesn’t. If not, they risk delaying 5G deployment schedules and monetization altogether.  

To accelerate 5G transformation, operators will need to make technology easier to consume — for both themselves and their enterprise end customers. However, the rapid pace of change in the technology makes such consumption harder than ever.   

To that end, WWT has developed a set of 5G solution blueprints in key 5G technology areas:

These reference architectures are pre-validated in WWT’s Advanced Technology Center — a software-defined data center with nearly $1 billion in technology infrastructure — to accelerate the creation of deployment-specific builds.  

Think of it like a game of chess, with the blueprints representing the pieces (pawns, rooks, etc.) and monetization strategy representing the actual gameplay. Telcos shouldn’t waste time manufacturing the various pieces, but do need to think strategically in how those pieces move and work together. 

The blueprints represent roughly 70 percent of the work needed to drive such 5G solutions to market. While critical to 5G success, these reference architectures are pieces that don’t directly touch customers and therefore shouldn’t be a priority for service providers, which need to dedicate time and  resources to the services and applications that will affect their customers in order to monetize the network. 

By focusing on customizing and building on top of these blueprints — the remaining 30 percent — telcos can more quickly develop and bring to market differentiated 5G-enabled services or applications that enterprise end customers will consume.  

Telcos may be capable of bringing these solutions to market on their own. But it’s a question of practicality, said Henry Calvert, head of Network GSMA, not technicality. 

“Operators need to find time and capital in their everyday,” he said. “Partnerships are a great way to manage this burden.”  

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Conclusion 

As the commodification of the network continues, increasing 5G transformation should be a key priority. Not only will the rewards be significant but failing to mature the network at sufficient pace brings the risk of consigning your business to becoming the proverbial “dumb pipe” for other organizations’ innovative applications and solutions. 

By looking to smart partnerships, you can accelerate your progress towards realizing the efficiencies and opportunities presented by 5G.