Fast Action in the Lab Will Drive 5G Transformation
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More than 100 network operators boast fifth generation network connectivity, meaning 5G has long since moved from science project to reality. But even as 5G permeates globally, the scientific method should not be discarded.
In fact, it will be critical throughout service providers' entire 5G transformation journey.
Telcos are heavy investment engines. Mobile network operators are projected to invest more than $1.1 trillion in their networks over the next five years, and about 80 percent of that will be in 5G technology, according to a new report from GSMA Intelligence.
To monetize this massive spend, telcos need to move beyond the core and offer services other than connectivity. To get there, telcos should focus more time and resources on those services that touch customers and less time on how those solutions are delivered (i.e., the infrastructure that does not touch customers).
Nowhere is the scientific method more prevalent than in the research and development lab, where service providers hypothesize, test and validate the various solutions that make up their networks.
The lab process can be time consuming, often taking as long as a year to fully vet a solution is ready for primetime. Why? Answers vary. Today's mobile networks are increasingly complex. Telcos have their own internal budget constraints and organizational priorities. Supply chain hiccups inevitably arise. Technology is changing faster than ever, and it is difficult for engineering teams to possess expertise across the board to keep up with the rapid pace.
There is no money to be made in the lab. And the litany of ways a lab process can be prolonged only delays time to revenue while increasing cost of development. Telcos need to move out of the lab and into trials or pilots with supreme confidence that what they have in hand will work and, ultimately, scale.
The question becomes: How can service providers get in and out of the lab as efficiently as possible to drive down the time and cost it takes to deliver 5G or 5G-enabled services?
5G is complex and no one vendor will ever be able to deliver an end-to-end solution. It's no longer about the right vendor, but the right mix of vendors. Partnerships and vendor ecosystems, therefore, are quickly emerging as critical to 5G success.
Francis Haysom, a principal analyst for Appledore Research, believes service providers would benefit from developing "ecosystem clusters" that can prove interoperability and collaboration to help ease integration and procurement challenges while still providing the operational benefits of open, disaggregated systems.
With most of the world's service providers facing intense pressure to transform their business models and become more agile, customer-centric organizations -- all while reducing expenses -- accounting for new market vendors and developing ecosystem clusters is not only a distraction, it is a downright challenge.
Systems integrators, such as World Wide Technology, help eliminate this gap and enable operators to quickly adopt new, open architectures that increase their competitiveness. Specifically, telcos should look for partners that have a lab capable of assembling a constellation of ecosystem clusters to help them quickly move out of the lab process throughout their 5G journey.
After all, telcos won't go through the lab just once during 5G transformation. They're likely to go in and out of the lab hundreds, if not thousands, of times for a broad range of reasons.
Because service providers have little interest in using "off-the-shelf" solutions, ecosystem clusters are merely the foundation -- a blueprint that can give them a head start on the lab process altogether.
WWT leveraged the power of our ATC ecosystem and understanding of the service provider landscape to validate a set of blueprints that make it easier for service providers to put in their network infrastructures and start delivering services to their customers.
WWT 5G blueprints:
- Open RAN
- Software-Defined Mobile Network
- Converged Edge Platform
- Private LTE
- Edge computing
- Next-Generation Central Office
Blueprints give service providers a 70 percent head start toward creating a deliverable solution when compared to starting from scratch.
The 30 percent that requires customization allows WWT to flex its industry expertise forged through our deep experience in dealing with enterprise and public sector customers. It also allows us to provide a set of services that help ensure successful implementation.
As operators invest in 5G and chart a course toward service revenues, the lab process stands as paramount to moving into the pilot phase and ensuring solutions work as intended once ready to roll out at scale.
For telcos, however, the lab process is simply a cost -- a means by which telcos get to monetization. Therefore, service providers need to explore and utilize all means possible to accelerate this part of their journey.