5G – Are we putting cart before the horse?

By Lambis Lytsikas, Sr. Manager-Solutions Engineering, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS).

Communications Services Providers (CSPs) are predominantly focusing on high-speed connectivity, 10X faster than cellular networks and increased connectivity, but very few were explicitly touching on optimising networks for 5G speed. Transforming networks is the key to transforming operations.

5G is the next generation all-powerful technology, promising to change our lives by connecting everything to everything and everywhere around us to a network 10X faster than current cellular connections and 10 times faster than our speediest home broadband service. We know that it is all about speed that we could have never imagined a decade ago, but are CSPs geared up?

CSPs need to greatly transform themselves to meet the growing expectations of the people and the vertical industries they need to serve. However, 5G has its own classifications. And it is all the more important for CSPs to understand these classifications to see how they can leapfrog into building Future Telcos. Many experts categorize 5G in different ways, but let’s take an official view.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has classified 5G mobile network services into three categories:

  1. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB),
  2. Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uRLLC), and
  3. Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): eMBB aims to meet the general public/general user demand for an increasingly digital lifestyle, and focuses on services that have high requirements for bandwidth, such as augmented reality (AR), high definition (HD) videos and virtual reality (VR).

Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uRLLC)

uRLLC focuses on meeting expectations for the demanding digital industry and aims on latency-sensitive services, time critical processes, such as assisted and automated driving, and remote management.

Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC)

mMTC aims to meet demands for a further developed digital society and focuses on services that include high requirements for connection density, such as smart city and smart agriculture.

Therefore, it is clear that the new 5G network is a service-driven network and subsequently its architecture should aim to flexibly and efficiently meet diversified and dynamically changing mobile service requirements.

With the consolidation of a) software-defined networking (SDN) and b) Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) supporting the underlying physical infrastructure, 5G moves towards comprehensively cloudifying access, transport, and core networks. This adoption of cloud architecture will allow for better support of the diversified 5G services, and at the same time will enable the key technologies of E2E network slicing, on-demand deployment of services, and component-based network functions.

One of the targets and driving forces of the proposed 5G network architecture evolution is to provide diversified services using mobile networks. E2E network slicing is a fundamental technology to achieve this target. In the 5G era, a mobile network will contain multiple logically separated network slices.

Each of these slices will be defined by a specific network topology, network function, and resource allocation model. Using the traditional methodologies of manual configurations, network planning and deployment, the service providers’ O&M system will potentially face a huge number of significant challenges in terms of dynamically preparing the network slice to accommodate more requirements.

Therefore, there is a need for the network to possess self-serving agile operation capabilities. Network slicing services can be automatically generated, maintained, or terminated according to service requirements, which significantly reduces time to market as well as the subsequent operating expenses.

Looking at all these classifications and to leverage 5G in all its forms, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS) has come up with a transformation framework around these key imperatives:

  • Transform operations with a goal to SIMPLIFY business
  • Drive efficiencies through automation and tools adoption – AUTOMATE
  • Accelerate revenues through rapid launch of new age digital services — INNOVATE

If CSPs don’t really focus on optimising networks, they are putting cart before the horse in way. Tata Communications Transformation Services has evaluated over 60 CSPs globally, across six different market segments to build a Telco Transformation Framework which will enable CSPs to de-risk and accelerate their transformation journey. The fundamental goal of Transformation framework is to make businesses simpler, faster and more efficient to deliver superior customer experience across all digital channels and services.

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Lambis Lytsikas (002)Author: Lambis Lytsikas

Title:  Sr. Manager-Solutions Engineering, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS)

Author profile: Lambis Lytsikas, Sr. Manager- Solutions Engineering, Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS) is responsible for the development of transformational service solutions that span across the Telco lifecycle namely Build, Operate & Transform. Lambis brings more that 20 years of experience, holding leadership roles with exposure to technical sales enablement, development of economotechnical managed service propositions focused on mobile backhaul, evolution of optical backbone network architecture and delivery of network support services. Lambis holds a degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Patras, Greece and a Masters in Mobile & Satellite Communications from the University of Westminster in London, UK.