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5 Revenue-Driving Applications of Private LTE Services

by Tim Irwin Tim Irwin No Comments

In my last blog about monetizing Private LTE Networks, I made the case for private LTE services as a way for mobile network operators (MNOs) to monetize their networks. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some of the use cases and applications for private LTE services—that is, the nitty-gritty of how MNOs can actually make that money.

Today, the mobile network is more or less a pipeline between content consumers and content providers. As mobile communications increase—and they stand to increase significantly for the foreseeable future—that pipeline needs to expand. If MNOs intend to backhaul that traffic through their network, they need to expand the entire pipeline, from core to edge. From a network transformation perspective, that’s like starting your journey by climbing Mt. Everest.

Private LTE services offer a shortcut to expanding network capacity at the edge, which also gives MNOs more control over the user experience. They can deploy private LTE at the edge of their cell sites or at the edge an enterprise’s network. By moving network services to the edge, MNOs can then decide whether traffic should remain local (e.g., a retailer delivering an in-store wireless experience to shoppers) or be backhauled through the network. This ability to break out services at the edge allows MNOs to infuse more security in the private LTE service or connect it directly to the cloud for more flexibility.

Applications of Private LTE Services

Although the uses cases for private LTE will largely be driven by enterprises themselves, here are five applications that represent an opportunity for MNOs right now:

Secure in-building wireless access

Most enterprises use Wi-Fi for in-building wireless communications. But Wi-Fi has limitations in coverage, bandwidth, and security that LTE does not. Enterprises could use a private LTE network in their building to provide secure, wireless access to business applications. They can even add an extra layer of security to their communications by using a captive portal within the private LTE network to serve as an authentication proxy, thus blocking unauthorized users from accessing those applications.

In-store experiences

Retail customers are looking for enhanced experiences in brick-and-mortar stores, from digital shopping assistants to augmented reality. A private LTE can help deliver these experiences on mobile devices with security, quality, and low latency.

Healthcare applications

The healthcare industry is heavily regulated in terms of how it can collect and share data. While many of these regulations are around personally identifiable information, even devices like heart monitors are subject to strict requirements. Wireless heart monitors must demonstrate a chain of trust in communications that ensure data cannot be manipulated in transit. A private LTE service combined with technology such as Affirmed’s vProbe can provide a detailed record of every IP flow and satisfy the need for compliance reporting and auditing.

Theft mitigation for IoT devices

While the chances of someone running off with our home thermostat are probably slim, manufacturing companies are reasonably concerned about equipment theft, particularly when that equipment contains sensitive information. In the event that a wireless-enabled device is removed illegally from a factory floor, a private LTE service could allow the device owner to effectively shut off its operation once it leaves the private LTE network’s range, even limiting the device’s functionality to just sending out a location signal.

Stadiums

Sporting events are often cited as an ideal use case for 5G technology, but private LTE services can deliver the same cost-efficient connectivity for dynamic events that require short periods of large capacity. Much like in-store experiences, in-stadium experiences can include augmented reality, secure mobile payments, and strong wireless connectivity within the stadium structure.

Let Private LTE Services Open the Door to Profitability

As you can see,  private LTE applications and services provide an entry point into next-generation services that can drive revenue today. Enterprises will pay more for these experiences because their customers will pay more for them. You don’t need to wait for 5G; the revenue opportunities are knocking right now. Let private LTE open the door to a more profitable future today.

New Whitepaper: 5G Velocity in the Distributed Cloud Era

by Affirmed Affirmed No Comments

With the 5G era on the horizon, service providers are re-architecting their networks to achieve the levels of performance and scalability required to support this new generation of networks.  To do so, many operators are distributing cloud infrastructure to network edge locations to enable rapid deployment of advanced network services.

Taking a specific look at evolving 4G and emerging 5G mobile networks, Affirmed Networks and Juniper Networks have commissioned a paper by one of the industry’s foremost experts that focuses on how cloud-native/microservices architectures enable service innovation and velocity.

Written by Gabriel Brown, Principal Analyst at analyst firm Heavy Reading, the paper makes the case for deploying edge infrastructure in combination with network slicing mechanisms to enable operators to create and deploy granular services, optimized to the use case and customer, using cloud-native network functions and management tools.

The paper not only looks at the new service requirements but also at the correlation between services and the architecture needed to support them.   Some of the many topics explored in detail as part of this paper include:

  • The Service-Based 5G Core Architecture
  • Distributed Cloud-Native Networks
  • Microservices for 4G/5G Core
  • Achieving True Service Velocity

Click here to obtain a copy of the full report.

For Mobile Network Carriers, Automation Is Key for Innovation

by Affirmed Affirmed 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 Affirmed Affirmed 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 Affirmed Affirmed 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 requirements of 5G. Here are the five core network requirements for 5G.

 

Create a Common Composable Core

The first 5g requirement is creating 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 the 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 solutions, 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%.