7 things I know about… making 5G work to generate business value

Paul Rhodes, OpenRAN and 5G Principal Consultant, World Wide Technology, tells TMN how mobile operators can start now to transform their network and business models.

1. 5G can create new opportunities for operators

5G certainly can generate new business value for operators beyond enhanced mobile broadband. 5G will deliver the communications requirements that automotive, enterprise, industry, logistics, transport, shipping and other sectors have been looking for, for several years. That’s where we’ll see the new opportunities, well beyond the consumer market that has historically been the domain of the operators.

2. Mobile network operators are at different places on the 5G journey

Different operators have different levels of 5G readiness and different aspirations. A regional Tier Two (T2) operator is not faced with the same priorities as a global, Tier One (T1) group operator. That’s true for their technology choices, but also in terms of how they can think about the opportunities 5G offers. Many T1 operators are moving first to enhance consumer broadband offers, with an early move to 5G that must necessarily be led by established vendors and suppliers.

For other operators, there is an opportunity to reset the way they design and operate their networks, by using cloud-based and open platforms to give them access to new business models. Taking advantage of Open RAN and cloud networks can not only create new network economics and means of delivering mobile networks, but also new partnership models and business value.

Operators do not need to wait for the track to their final destination to be built, before starting out on their journey

3. Operators can start that journey now

Even though there is still a broad spread in terms of where T1s, T2s and T3s are on the 5G journey, what we want to explain is that operators do not need to wait for the track to their final destination to be built, before starting out on their journey.

Moving to a new mode of operation looks very challenging for many operators. It asks for new skills, the ability to find and work with new suppliers, and to make new partnerships to reach the market. But if they have faith that the track will be built while they are on the journey, they can implement their strategy piece by piece, and the technology that’s available will get better and make the journey easier as they go along.

Once you start to think about the path you are on, it can seem daunting. Cloud networks and platforms require instrumentation, orchestration, automation, but these are things that will come. With our experience working with webscale companies, we have the insight that this will be easier as time goes by.

You don’t have to risk being late because you waited until the whole path is laid out and then you found that everyone got there ahead of you.

4. Open RAN starts you on the journey.

Open RAN, with the disaggregation of the RAN and the use of cloud and virtual compute, can open eyes to the possibilities of 5G and cloud. While Open RAN might be a big step, it is something you can tackle first in a greenfield, limited manner, and then worry about how it will scale in the future. Operators can target an in-building, rural, or private network setting, and build a targeted network using Open RAN principles.

Companies that are taking this Open RAN journey are getting a head start in terms of understanding network disaggregation and cloud, not just in terms of technical deployment but in being able to exploit the benefits of that cloud infrastructure for business.


Read this free eBook on how to make 5G Work. Includes sections on managing the transition to Open RAN and the telco cloud.

5. The new business value

A 5G Open RAN built on cloud principles means that the RAN can be delivered in an as-a-Service manner to an enterprise, or to another service provider. Open RAN can also be the vehicle for a much more dynamic network, with resources being scaled up and down as required, delivering multiple vRAN instances from the same infrastructure, for example. So you have changed the network economics, the business model has moved to a fee approach rather than one based on upfront capex for the customer. Those are new ways of working; it’s not just about slicing a box vertically and horizontally but enabling a new approach to the business.

6. WWT can help

Our Open RAN blueprints create a procurement template for operators, distilling down all the many disaggregated components to a digestible list of operations, and reducing the number of vendors in the mix. What we can do is take the product of four or five different companies and interwork and integrate them together.

Using our logistics capabilities means we can also have all the vendors deliver to one location, where we take the products and integrate them, before shipping them out to sites as completed units. Handling logistics centrally and building off-site leverages our IT and webscale heritage, delivering the same value to our partners. Our centralised logistics currently saves one T1 operator millions per year, and that is working with a much small number of vendors.

Additionally, by designing a good architecture we ensure that if a better vendor, or a different vendor offering a new functionality, comes along, you can slot that into your network in a very short time frame, rather than wait 12-18 months as you would for a large vendor update.

7. See the possibilities

There is a natural conservatism in many of the operators, they are looking to take baby steps – and we would like to encourage them to see the possibilities. Open RAN is a paradigm shift on its own, and operators are a little bit nervous about moving to the cloud. There is no reason to be nervous, but even if you are, then work with a partner that has the experience of working in this sphere and can explain it to you, rather than merely sell you a solution.

We have experience delivering telco cloud and NFVi solutions that support operators and helps them navigate their ORAN journey, avoiding unnecessary u-turns.

The end point that everyone expects – of automation of disaggregation and near unlimited customer segmentation – is not here yet. But through leveraging partnerships it will come, and it will make your life easier.

In any case, the old ways of buying everything from a single monolithic supplier are over. Managing that supplier change will be made easier if you wholeheartedly embrace new ways of thinking.

Read this free eBook on how to make 5G Work. Includes sections on managing the transition to Open RAN and the telco cloud.

  • This is a sponsored post