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Is Your RAN vendor Trying to Sell You a Mobile Core? Run in the Other Direction

by Ashwin Moranganti Ashwin Moranganti No Comments

It’s pretty obvious, but building a car is vastly different than building a house.  It requires significantly different tools, skills and processes. That said, if the company that built your home offered to sell you a minivan they designed and built themselves, you’d most likely decline—even if they offered their minivan at a great price.

While that illustration may seem obtuse, the message behind it is not.  Specifically, through our work with the world’s leading operators, we see the same mistake being made from time to time when they buy mobile core solutions from their RAN providers. Think about it.  RAN vendors are in the business of selling hardware—lots of it. Today’s mobile core vendors are in the business of reducing hardware through virtualization and anticipating the decoupled service architecture of 5G. Although RAN and mobile core technologies are designed to work together, they’re worlds apart in terms of how they’re built.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy a Radio-Core Combination from RAN Vendors

Buying a radio-core combination from your RAN vendor is a bad idea for several reasons:

  • You’re probably settling for a second-rate core. No vendor is going to be best-of-breed in everything; at best, they may do a few things well. If a vendor is making 90% of their money selling hardware, they’re probably not the right people to entrust with your cloud/virtualization strategy. Mobile cores are a science unto themselves; it’s why some companies like Affirmed Networks are 100% focused on building virtual mobile core solutions. It’s a different game.
  • Market competition fosters innovation and drives down prices. Market consolidation stifles innovation and drives up prices. Think about Boeing, Airbus and the airline industry: Is that what you want for the telecom industry as it embarks on a new era of growth ushered in by the arrival of 5G?
  • You’re selling the vision of 5G short. 5G is all about disaggregating components in the network and providing open interfaces, not building a proprietary system based on one vendor’s architecture. If you approach your 5G mobile core the same way you approached your 3G core, you stand to miss out on many of the benefits that 5G brings to the network.

What exactly are the benefits that a best-of-breed mobile core can bring to your business? We’re glad you asked. Let’s look at what it means for some of our customers:

  • It means having a cloud-native, 5G mobile core right now, not three years from now when we get around to it on our roadmap.
  • It means virtualized network functions that are already decoupled to scale efficiently, deliver high performance and accelerate service creation. And remember, these aren’t just requirements for the future, they’re benefits that can drive revenue and deliver a significant competitive advantage today.
  • It means unique innovations you won’t find anywhere else, such as virtualized network probes that deliver rich network insights without impacting network performance and a built-in service automation platform that can create new micro- and macro-services in minutes.

Look, we understand the appeal of saving money on your mobile core and having one throat to choke. But wouldn’t it be better not to have to choke any throats at all? You wouldn’t drive a car designed by your architect, or live in a home built by your mechanic. Why settle for a virtualized mobile core designed by your legacy hardware vendor? After all, you’re going to have to live with that decision for a long time.

Learn more about our mobile core solutions.

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.