GSMA advises operators to keep it simple on network slicing

On the final day of 5G World 2018, GSMA Technical Director Michele Zarri gave operators some advice on deploying network slicing on 5G: “keep it simple”.

Zarri advised operators to work together with their competitors to create a set of standard slices. “Only a handful of slices maybe 10 or 15 can serve the vast majority of the use cases,” he said. “You can have a safety net of 10 slices that every operator creates as this makes it easier for manufacturers. It does not block innovation, it is complementary and allows for roaming.”

This all sounds good in theory and would greatly benefit those producing IoT devices in the future. However, we’ve been talking about network slicing for a while now, and it’s hard to imagine any such plan being all that simple to execute.

As with many of the network developments discussed at this year’s event, it all comes down to money. With European operators struggling to justify their investments in 5G, business cases seem to be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

But to Zarri, the business cases for network slicing are obvious. By allocating a network across virtualised network slices, each for different use cases and services, reliability is massively improved. For many of the use cases proposed for 5G such as autonomous vehicles, this reliability will be essential. Such a wide range of use cases have been put forward for 5G in everything from entertainment to agriculture that this could open up major new revenue streams. “When you look at vertical industries that did not benefit from 4G, they are all targets now,” he said.

There are fears that network slicing and the creation of private networks might start to push operators out from major revenue streams that will be created. Zarri tried to set everyone’s mind at ease, by addressing this concern. On the issue of private networks, he insisted that operators would still be the key players and weren’t at risk of being pushed out. “Private networks will exist, they exist today, but operators have the know how – you need someone who knows how it works,” he said.

It remains to be seen how fast European operators will move in network slicing and whether it really is possible to find a simple solution. But with demand for reliable, low latency networks increasing and operators so focussed on finding that all-important business case, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about network slicing over the coming year.

Telcos urged to stop moaning and get on with 5G because it’s inevitable

At 5G World in London operators were in agreement that the industry needs to stop having panic attacks about the business case for 5G and just get on with it.

The CTOs of both Swisscom and Three UK both expressed frustration at the apparent tendency of many in the industry to wait for a killer business case before going all-in on 5G. Since 5G is inevitable and the eventual ROI seems beyond dispute, why not just get on with it now. ‘Sh*t or get off the pot,’ they seemed to be saying.

Heinz Herren of Swisscom and Bryn Jones of Three were joined in a panel moderated by Gabriel Brown of Heavy Reading by the brilliantly-named Constantine Polychronopoulos, CTO of the Telco NFV Group at VMware and the latter concurred that 5G is a ‘do or die’ situation. It’s not a matter of if, but when, so get on with it already.

One of the main reasons for hesitation, presumably, is the presumed capex spike that it will entail, but all three of the panel were sceptical about that objection too. Herren doesn’t see the sub-millimetre wave upgrade to 5G requiring significant additional capex and Jones compared network upgrading to painting the Forth Bridge in so much as it’s a constant, rolling, substitutional process so the capex is already baked in.

They did concede some areas are going to cost a bit extra, such as massive MIMO antennas, additional need for fibre and the cost of buying, placing and servicing small cells. Herren and Jones both concurred that having as good and active a relationship as possible with vendor partners is vital. You can read more about the capex discussion at Light Reading here.

Nokia launches services to help telcos with their 5G efforts

At 5G World 2018 Nokia unveiled a bunch of services designed to help operators with the major undertaking of moving to 5G.

The main offering is Nokia 5G Digital Design, which uses AI to simulate 5G use cases to help with real-world design and stress test the business cases for them. There’s also a Cross-Domain Architecture service that claims to help with the technological transition to 5G and the New Site Evolution service is all about modernizing base station sites and that sort of thing.

“5G network evolution is not only about the radio, but the entire cross-domain architecture and how operators can manage I,” said Sanjay Goel, President of Global Services at Nokia. “It’s about where to invest first – and how to keep the investments and total cost of ownership under control. Nokia’s use case-focused 5G services recognize that operators might initially want to use 5G for different purposes: some to offer consumer services, others focusing more on industrial applications.”

In other news Nokia has completed a 5G NR data call in partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The special bit about this test is that it not only featured 5G over 3.5 GHz, but LTE over 2.1 GHz in parallel. This ‘dual connectivity’ is significant in smoothing the transition from 4G to 5G as it lowers the risk level for operators.

“We are pleased to showcase our end-to-end capabilities in 5G in this successful call and trial with MIIT,” said Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Nokia is ready to support dual connectivity with the AirScale radio access portfolio as it is upgradeable via software to 5G and provides single RAN support for 4G, 4.5G Pro and 4.9G as well as legacy technologies. As a result we can help our customers meet their early 5G deployment schedules and initial coverage demands.”

Telecoms.com will be covering 5G World and the broader TechXLR8 even extensively, so make sure you check back regularly.

Operators must harness the value of data to profit from 5G

Q&A with Mustafa Aykut, Principal Advisor to BoD and CEO at Turkcell.

Where do you see 5G providing the greatest opportunities for operators?

5G is not just a communication technology. It should be considered the basis of digitalization of automotive, education, logistics, agriculture and health industries as well as Industry 4.0 transformation. Therefore, it is important that actors from all industries participate in 5G development efforts. Through long-term collaborations, we think that early adoption of 5G services will trigger a boost not only in technology but also in national economies.

In this new era, the most important power is “data”; it resembles the petroleum of 100 years ago. Just as extracted crude oil is worth 50-60 dollars and after processing it gains millions of dollars’ in value, data is measured in terms of GBs in its crude form. However, when we take this data and process it, we turn it into digital services such as music, TV, magazine, and messaging services. With Industry 4.0, processed data has become more valuable and digital services developed using this data consume even more space in our lives. We are now connected to the digital world 1440 minutes of the day. As the infrastructure and the principal component of this transformation, 5G stands as one of the main pillars of Industry 4.0.

5G will bring more speed and more data. Things and places will be getting smarter. As the speed will generate more data, people and things will interact more with each other and there will be vast opportunities for the operators to analyse data. AI based services and products will need major computing power to process big data volumes generated.

Enormous increases in the volume of data will force mobile providers to move faster than ever toward 5G, to be able to transmit data at very high speed and very low latency. The level of hyper-connectivity expected by users today leaves little option other than to move forward on the 5G path. If telecom companies think of themselves as service providers, they act in one way, but if they think of themselves as experience providers, designers or creators, they will think differently. We can create all these digital experiences, because we are licensed operators.

When it comes to analysing data, there will be vast opportunities for operators to analyse data and enhance the experience of consumers and businesses. Operators will be in the best position to add value and capture that value if they want to transform their business into an experience provider instead of simply being that service provider. They should be aware of their responsibility to accelerate transformation to the entire economy in this digital era.

Where is Turkcell on the road to 5G?

As Turkcell, all of the infrastructure investments we have made over the last 3 years are on carrier combining technologies, which are the backbone of 5G. When 5G standards are set, we will be able to use 5G quickly, along with the introduction of new frequencies, software and antenna updates in Turkey. We have also been involved in determining standards of 5G in the world from day one. Turkcell serves for standardization studies at various significant global institutions and organizations, for example ITU, 3GPP, GSMA, 5GPPP, NGMN, etc. We are coordinating and managing the 5G tests conducted worldwide under the NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks) framework. This has been a very encouraging process for us.

Turkcell’s strategy to lead the establishment of 5G standards which was realized over the past three years, combined with its strategic geographical location as a hub connecting Europe and Asia, is designed to place the carrier as a global leader at the center of 5G developments and the “Industry 4.0” era. Turkcell has forged strategic collaborations with leading national and international companies and universities to develop 5G technologies. It was the first operator to test the “Massive MIMO” technique, one of the major solutions to evolve 4.5G towards 5G, in Europe and Central Asia on a real network.

With 5G, we will offer 10 times the current speed. We will also ensure low levels of communication delays. The delays will be minimum 20 times lower than today. Operations which require instant decision-making in case of emergencies will be possible. Devices connected to the network will be used efficiently. 5G network will allow connection of 1 million devices per square kilometer. 5G will change all industries from education and urbanism to health and transport. Ways of doing business will change. What does Turkcell, world’s first digital operator, do? We did the first and fastest 5G tests in Turkey. Last year, we performed the first and fastest 5G tests. We achieved record speeds with approximately 71 Gbps. As of today, we are using 5G. We reach the best speed supported by today’s devices. During the tests we did in Mardin on April, we achieved 1.05 Gbps at our live network. The speed will increase as terminals which support better speeds are available. We are now waiting for better terminals to be launched.

How do LTE and LTE Advanced it into your current strategies?

On April 1st, we celebrated the second anniversary of 4.5G services in Turkey with a speed test over 1 Gbps through LTE-Advanced using three carriers aggregation technology. We achieved this speed for the first time on a live network, confirming required steps taken towards our readiness for 5G. Our efforts towards an ultra-high-speed broadband experience enhances our ongoing work to develop 5G use-cases with a wide range of ecosystem players, including universities and international institutions.

Turkcell’s strategy in building the 4.5G network included the facilitation of transition to 5G. Our current 4.5G network allows the use of basic 5G features increasing capacity, speed and machine communication. Turkcell’s current network is a high-end network offering the best speed and quality of mobile services. This creates many opportunities for all. There are 7 operators in the world which can offer a speed exceeding 1Gbps and Turkcell is one and pioneer of them.

What are your industry predictions for the rest of 2018?

Digital transformation becomes a must. 2018 will help many companies realize, digital transformation is not a hype. Disruption will continue to be a common occurrence and the companies unable or unprepared for these changes will quickly fail to the bottom of the pack.

5G. One of the most anticipated mobile technology platforms, 5G will be the connective tissue for the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, robotics and mobile media in telecom sector. As the increase in the volume of data produced by IoT forces data to be on the cloud and edge, it will also force mobile providers to move faster than ever – toward 5G. The level of hyper-connectivity expected by users today leaves little room not to move forward on the 5G path.

So much power remains in AI. In everything from customer service to marketing, from robotic to analytics, AI is in everywhere and soon to be an old news. Companies will continue to use AI to surprise, connect, and communicate with their customers in ways they may not even appreciate or realize.

What is your key message at 5G World this year?

At Turkcell, we’ve been transforming the way we do our business in these last years, and it all started with a change in mind-set. The mind-set is transforming the way we approach the business from being a technology-focused telecommunications service provider to service-focused experience provider. At the end of the day, customers do experience things at home, in the office, on the street, on the go, in the cab, etc. It is all about operators creating those experiences, enabling and enhances those experiences and making them more memorable and richer experiences.

The telecom industry has been failing to recognize the fact that it is all about the experience. If telecom companies think of themselves as a service provider they act in one way, but if they think of themselves as an experience provider, designer/creator provider, they do so in a different way. We can create these digital experiences; because we’re licensed operators. Increasing demand for more data and increasing demand for consuming data are big opportunities, as opposed to something that we should be complaining about. We should focus on the experiences, creating the experiences, using and employing all the digital technologies that we have available to us today over mobility; but use them in such a way that over-the-top service providers can’t match because we differentiate them in a way only licensed operators can.

We have the infrastructure and spectrum, and we can do credit scoring and monitoring – we can do much more than over-the-top players can do. Therefore; with the power of 5G, we can easily transform the way we do our businesses.

 

Mustafa AykutDr. Mustafa Aykut joined Turkcell in January 2016 as the Principal Advisor to the Board of Directors and CEO. He contributes to the technological, regulatory and strategic works at the company. Prior to this, he was the International Affairs and Policy Co-ordinator at Turk Telekom Group from 2008 till 2015.

Join Mustafa Aykut at 5G World 2018, where he will deliver a presentation on How Turkcell has transformed to become “A digital operator” as well as taking part in a panel on Demystifying 4G in a 5G World.

Smart data – giving operators the edge

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece John English, Senior Marketing Manager, Service Providers at Netscout, describes some of the benefits offered by edge computing.

Edge computing is set to play an important part in fulfilling the expectations for 5G and unlocking its promised benefits. The connective tissue of IoT applications and services such as smart vehicles, public safety, remote medicine, robotics, and the networks of sensors deployed across smart cities, will all significantly gain from utilising 5G technology to achieve truly ubiquitous, reliable, scalable and cost-effective device-to-device connectivity.

Moving cloud, compute and processing power to the edge of the network makes it possible to support the ultra-low latency requirements of 5G and IoT applications such as connected cars, which require real time information at all times, while significantly improving the efficiency of devices.

As 5G and the IoT become more pervasive, there will be an increasingly urgent requirement to support the new data loads and unpredictable traffic patterns being introduced, along with the growing demand for reduced latency and increased compute efficiency. It’s little surprise, therefore, that service providers are now beginning to move network infrastructure to the edge.

With IoT solutions underpinning a growing number of aspects in our lives and businesses, it’s crucial that operators have assurance that their connectivity remains ubiquitous, consistent and reliable. But as with any burgeoning technology, there will always be a new set of challenges to face, and dealing with these will require complete visibility across the entire IoT lifecycle.

Intelligence and insight

The benefits offered by edge computing have seen it gain a lot of traction recently, with both established operators and new entrants to the market launching a range of new cloud and server technologies designed to effectively move data center functionality to the edge of the network. As organizations virtualize network components and functions for greater agility, speed and cost-savings, so they will leverage this new NFV architecture to deploy C-RAN (cloud-based RAN) solutions to better support the increase in their customer’s data traffic.

Managed correctly, the data generated by virtual solutions such as these will provide operators with much needed intelligence that will enable them to gain actionable meaningful insights and inform their network policy and traffic management systems. Over time, this flow of information, and the intelligence derived from it, will lead to networks becoming automated and self-optimizing. This will then allow operators to allocate capacity to areas where it’s needed most: whether to manage peaks in network demand or, in the case of IoT traffic, to manage the demands of sophisticated smart city deployments, autonomous cars, or ‘smart’ automated factories.

Use cases such as these are largely unknown territory, however, and the level of data traffic they will generate is unprecedented. Visibility is therefore crucial if operators are to effectively manage their networks. This is particularly the case with the IoT, where operators will be required to report on the status of any mission-critical systems. With IoT technologies underpinning a growing number of critical applications, such as disaster monitoring and military situational awareness, the need for assurance around security and service delivery is paramount.

Though it may be frustrating that a problem with the network may result in a user being unable to access a movie from a Netflix server on their mobile device, the stakes are considerably higher when a similar network problem affects the performance of a remote heart monitor in a hospital.  So, while it makes sense for an operator to reconfigure a network to account for the increasing demands of 5G and IoT services, it must be possible to derive some meaningful insight from the data being produced. If not, it will offer no visibility into what’s happening on that network, and this could lead to very serious consequences.

In simple terms, a frustrated Netflix subscriber unable to watch the latest episode of Stranger Things can contact the customer service center. Automated machines on a production line, however, will not be calling into customer service to let anyone know if they’re experiencing issues with connectivity, which could have a knock-on effect throughout a business’s entire supply chain.

The oil that fuels the networks’ engines

As computing moves closer to the edge, smart data will quickly become the oil that fuels the networks’ engines.

Real-time, scalable meta data imbued with user experience derived from network traffic, smart data offers unlimited scale, across all aspects of the network, both physical and virtual. Once an operator is able to access and analyze this data in real-time, they will be able to gain valuable new insights into how the connected IoT devices and machines on their network behave, how they interact with the network, and the type of traffic patterns they produce. Ultimately, with access to smart data, operators will be in a better position to make more informed decisions about how to optimize their networks, where to allocate capacity, and how to boost performance.

Furthermore, the visibility enabled by smart data can also enable operators to identify anomalies within the network; significant changes that could indicate issues such as network congestion, which could potentially affect hundreds or thousands of connected devices. Actionable intelligence of this type is worth its weight in gold to an operator and its enterprise customers, who rely on the network to provide a communication backbone to support their IoT deployments.

Ensuring that everything is connected

Edge computing may currently be a nascent space, but the benefits of capacity, low-latency and scalability it offers represent great potential for the success of next-generation technologies. As operators prepare for a 5G rollout over the next five years, edge computing will become a critical element of mobile network infrastructure. And with the number of connected devices predicted to reach more than 30 billion by 2020, it will soon be adopted by ISPs, cable companies and a range of other service providers too.

As the industry continues to move network infrastructure to the edge, harnessing NFV and cloud technology to deliver new, faster, more efficient services, the need for visibility across these new-look, complex networks becomes abundantly clear if operators are to make the most of their new investment.

Only by employing a smart data solution will operators have the ability they need to monitor the sheer breadth and depth of the IoT ecosystem, and ensure that everything is assured, and every device connected.

 

Meet NETSCOUT and learn more about their solutions at 5G World 2018, taking place in London, 12 -14 June.