When consumers think of communications innovation, they tend to think of apps (Uber, Netflix) or smartphone vendors (Apple, Google). Few realize how much complex technology is behind the telecommunications networks that ensure those apps and phones work as advertised. Communication service providers (CSPs), for their part, are tired of watching “digital natives” grab the glory—and a big chunk of the revenue along with it. They know they need to escape the cost and complexity of traditional network architectures and digitally transform themselves through the cloud, containers, and other innovative technologies if they want to compete as service innovators rather than simply connectivity providers.
The inflection point for this transformation realization is 5G. With its massive market potential for new revenue-generating services, 5G is motivating CSPs to shift from cautious adopters of technology to cutting-edge pioneers. The good news is that all the great things that 5G has to offer—new enterprise services that will generate increased revenue in vertical markets such as retail, financial, manufacturing and more—depend upon what CSPs do next. But CSPs also depend upon their network equipment vendors to deliver that innovation. 5G network transformation is much bigger than more RAN towers and servers. It will require new approaches to the network such as multi-access edge computing (MEC) and a cloud-native service architecture so that services be spun up anywhere in minutes, especially in enterprise environments.
CSPs are ready to embrace a more agile, flexible, and scalable network infrastructure. The new vertical services, enabled by 5G, will demand not only more speed, but will also lower latencies. Moving compute closer to the network edge is an important step in the right direction. Quickly spinning up network functions and services in the cloud is another. These solutions require technology partners that support open standards, actively develop reference architectures with other 5G vendors, and bring innovation to market faster—whether it’s the latest chipsets in the market or the most advanced cloud-native network functions (CNFs) from 3GPP vendors.