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For Mobile Network Carriers, Automation Is Key for Innovation

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

In the context of a mobile network core, automating the lifecycle management of both new and existing operator services, including designing, deploying, performance measuring, fine tuning, and decommissioning, is a rising tide that will lift all boats. But how fast that tide is coming in is an important topic to unpack, as we did in our conversation with Light Reading.

Services can be a complex mix of multiple functions, both legacy appliance-based functions and virtualized functions. When it comes to innovation, it’s the lack of automation that creates a cultural and structural barrier to driving top-line service revenue growth. Facing intense competition from over-the-top content providers, and with ever-higher service expectations from customers, operators must find ways to provide new revenue-generating services that customers will purchase.

 

Unfortunately, the current process of designing and rolling out a new service is a very manual one. It can take months to deploy a simple gold, silver, or bronze service. Given that the burden is so high to roll out a new service, only the “highest runners” tend to make it to market. This situation stifles innovation and significantly retards revenue generation.

On the other hand, automation allows operators to rapidly create, deploy, measure performance, iterate on services and decommission services (fail fast). The process can move 80% to 90% faster than it does today—while reducing the cost to create these services by 70% or more.

This powers the innovation engine in operators and drives growth. For instance, Affirmed has seen the simple process of onboarding a mobile virtual network operator customer take two months or longer without automation. Automating the process reduced the time to less than one week and cut the cost by 90%.

Automation has become an important driver to support new services such as enterprise offerings, innovative rating plans, and IoT. Edge Computing is an emerging area where virtual network functions are deployed closer to the edge, further driving the demand for automation.

Transitioning to automation will be a gradual evolution (probably a decade-long process, as Dan Jones and others have pointed out), but with highly repetitive tasks being first to evolve, we see a major wave of disruption coming as network processes inevitably become more automated.

Telecom Pros Discuss Challenges of 5G Network Slicing

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, 5G promises to let communications service providers (CSPs) ‘slice’ the network to accommodate a wide range of applications with very different reliability, quality of service, security, latency, and throughput requirements. To accommodate such services, CSPs will create individual network slices on a multi-tenant, multi-operator network platform. Slices will be orchestrated and assured end to end through automated closed control loops using intent-based management, analytics and policy. CSPs will support on-demand network slicing on a per-customer or per-application basis.

To support CSPs, the Affirmed Virtual Slice Selection Function (vSSF) makes it easy to build network slices across any network. vSSF, inserts into existing networks without requiring configuration changes, and delivers a centralized “one-touch” function for allocating resources by a variety of attributes (device type, service type, customer ID, location, time-of-day, and more) to meet the needs of specific services.  The vSSF is the industry’s first solution to provide network slicing over legacy, virtualized, and multi-vendor 5G network environments.

With regard to 5G challenges, including network slicing, TM Forum Network Functions Virtualization /IT transformation conducted a survey of sixty-one telecom professionals at fifty-two companies, including CSPs and suppliers. The resulting report, Trends Analysis report 5G: Is platform the killer use case? confirms the widespread belief that for CSPs to find the best way forward, the key factors are 5G, network functions virtualization (NFV), and software-defined business models for networking and cloud-based platforms.

The study shows when it comes to network slicing, sixty percent of respondents see end-to-end management as their biggest issue. The study also showed:

  • A top concern of a third of the CSPs and suppliers is the availability of operating and business support systems (OSS/BSS) that can accommodate a wide range of innovative business models with multiple parties, using a variety of pricing strategies.
  • Twenty-nine percent of CSPs and twenty-six percent of suppliers are worried about organizational issues. Telco operations teams are typically arranged vertically around specific product groups, which is inadequate for platform-based network slicing models.
  • About fifteen percent of CSPs and eleven percent of suppliers are concerned about a lack of edge-computing resources for 5G network slicing, believing that there is not enough computing power at the edge today to analyze network usage patterns and ensure quality of service.

With Affirmed’s “5G Ready” solutions supporting network slicing today, mobile operators can dramatically improve the profitability of their existing services now. By combining the vSSF with innovations such as the Affirmed Service Automation Platform, operators can rapidly deploy network slices and new revenue generating services in order to reduce time-to-market and operational costs by as much as 90%. Adding the Affirmed Virtual Probe, operators receive real-time analytics on individual slices and services, enabling them to improve service quality, reduce network support costs and identify new service opportunities.

Affirmed Networks delivers the world’s only fully virtualized, cloud native, 5G-ready mobile core solution. Learn more about our network slicing solutions.

5 Network Requirements for the 5G Network Revolution

by Angela Whiteford Angela Whiteford No Comments

In order to create a 5G network we must transform three things: the radio access network, the core network, and the service creation layer. Radio access standards and available spectrum are still works-in-progress—but we have a good understanding today of the five core network requirements for 5G:

Create a Common Composable Core

Create a common composable core to deliver a controlled and secure experience across access technologies and manage connectivity/mobility for mobile devices. The 5G core also needs to scale dynamically while reducing cost and complexity. A composable core decouples the user and control planes, moving services and applications closer to the network edge. Communications service providers (CSPs) can affordably achieve high bandwidth, low latency requirements with unlimited scale and flexibility.

“Slice” the network to Support Different Services

In a 5G network, CSPs will need to slice their network resources into many different types of services, each with unique requirements around quality of service, security, latency, etc. HD videoconferencing in a telemedicine application will have very different session requirements than a wireless machine-to-machine device communicating its hourly status. CSPs must support network slicing on-demand on a per-customer or per-application/use case basis.

Optimize for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things brings billions of connected wireless sensors that will share space on the same network as consumer and enterprise data traffic. Preventing millions of devices from impacting subscriber services requires a network architecture that can efficiently handle high-bandwidth downloads, high-bandwidth uploads, and high-density/delay-tolerant communications.

Support Creation of New Mobile Services

Increased network intelligence and analytics will allow service providers to create new services that drive business decisions and improve the overall subscriber experience. Real-time insights can be gleaned from session control, subscriber events and subscriber data to drive smarter network planning and provisioning.

Simplify Network Operations and Management

CSPs face the challenge of how to build more intelligent networks to handle more volume and more types of traffic without escalating costs. On the wireless access side, leveraging existing Wi-Fi networks and short-range access points instead of radio access network (RAN) towers can mitigate the cost of mobile broadband. Within the network, CSPs use virtualization and the cloud to reduce capex costs, while service automation, orchestration, and network analytics will drive opex costs down.

 

Find out more about how we can create agile mobile networks, and learn what the virtual packet core for 5G will look like at the 5G Core Track “vEPC in the Lead up to 5G ” on June 14th at 3.30 P.M.

Members of the Affirmed team will be available in Booth #5G304, showcasing our 5G-Ready portfolio and demonstrating 5G CUPS, Network Slicing, Service Automation, IoT, Virtual Probe and Real Time Analytics, Service Function Chaining, and more.

Affirmed Networks delivers the world’s only fully virtualized, cloud-native, 5G-ready mobile core solution. The Affirmed Mobile Content Cloud (vEPC) provides a breadth of VNFs with integrated Virtual Probe and Tap providing real time network visibility and reducing probe and monitoring costs by more than 50%.