Verticals: At the End of the 5G Rainbow, Part 2
Service providers around the world are moving to 4G LTE networks, gaining spectral efficiency and realizing cost savings as they support the exploding mobile data demands of today. But 74% growth in global mobile data traffic in 2015, coupled with M2M/IoT, means there will be 11.6 billion mobile-connected devices outstripping the number of humans on the planet by 2020 (Source: Cisco).
Maintaining carrier grade
Today’s IoT is often presented as “toys” or simple elements of home automation or fitness monitors that are Wi-Fi based. The communication services or experiences associated with these applications are typically implemented over the top (OTT) of broadband connections on a “best efforts” basis. For early adopters and un-stressed networks this is a satisfactory solution, but in the future this will not be the case.
The mobile cloud–based IoT of 2020 will be embedded in the critical infrastructure of smart automobiles, smart healthcare, smart power distribution, and smart cities. The integration of the service platform with the connectivity solution will be a key area of focus for the mobile network provider.
The role of the network provider evolves
In this new network paradigm of 5G, voice, video, and messaging can become embedded in a vehicle, incorporated into a smart home infrastructure, or offered through a wearable.
In some of these cases, the network provider will continue to host the service, but in the case of specific enterprise use cases, there is no reason why the service cannot be hosted in the enterprise cloud. Today, 4G LTE prioritizes carrier voice traffic (QoS implementation). With network slices and increased granularity of policy control, the 5G networks will be able to offer a wide variety of QoS to different network consumers.
This model would allow the enterprise to become an operating service domain for communications (the private virtual network operator, or PVNO) with the benefits of extended services tuned to the needs of their business, integrated with their business processes, and using the native communications capabilities of a wide range of available devices.
We face a future where the role of the network will become increasingly central to everything that we do, and communication services will be implicit in the widest possible range of activities. Traditional telephony will become absorbed into this world of embedded communications; however, the reliability and security of those communications services will need to match or exceed traditional standards.
The network provider will be just one of the providers of communications services in this world, and in many cases will use the slicing technologies of 5G to allow the network as a service (NaaS) to be directly monetized.
The commercial models and differing service attribute requirements will necessitate a distributed hybrid cloud model that balances the efficiencies, placing resources at the network edge with the effectiveness of centralized control and operation.
Finally, in 5G deployments, there will be an initial focus on the use cases which are closest to traditional carrier business models, such as increased bandwidth broadband access to address ever-growing appetites for video content.
However, the really transformational use cases will be driven by other ecosystem participants. Embracing these new business models where third-party service elements may operate within the network operator’s network edge data centers will create many challenges and opportunities.
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