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NaaS takes centre stage, Wi-Fi, 5G and 6G wait in the wings for WRC-23

A whistlestop tour of industry’s highlights last month and a look forward to imminent the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23) with Contributing Editor Annie Turner.

BT announced a new, multi-cloud international network, called Global Fabric, for business customers. Businesses can run and optimise their applications, making the most of cloud and network technologies, and share data with parties such as customers and employees. The operator says it will also allow firms to leverage automation and AI.

It is based on a Network-as-a-service (NaaS) technical and commercial model, designed to be flexible, scalable and resilient with customers only paying for what they use.
Customers choose the connectivity they want for their applications and workloads then can proactively manage the routes across the network. This self-service control is intended to give customers the best applications performance, help them manage costs and address regulatory requirements regarding data in transit.

MEF launches NaaS blueprint

For those not so far down the line as BT, MEF has developed a NaaS Industry Blueprint to help operators develop, market and deploy NaaS platforms. It explains how to choose the right NaaS platform and provides use cases for the transport network, SD-WAN, SASE and multi-cloud services.

MEF defines NaaS platforms as “as on-demand connectivity, application assurance, cybersecurity, and multi-cloud-based services across a standards-based automated ecosystem.”
The Blueprint references MEF services like the long-established Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) automation, as well as standard API and other industry tools for building and deploying NaaS services.

Source: MEF NaaS Blueprint
Source: MEF NaaS Blueprint

Dubai6G coming closer

The World Radicommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-2023) will take place in Dubai from 20 November to 15 December. It is held every three to four years, to review and revise if deemed necessary the global Radio Regulations. This is an international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the orbits of geostationary and non-geostationary satellites. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by the ITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous WRCs.

Some of the hottest topics for telcos this time round will be the 6GHz frequency band, and how it should be shared between or reserved for either 5G and Wi-Fi. And also what Nokia calls the Golden Bands, which are frequencies between 7GHz and 15GHz. They are called “golden” because they could be used to improve 5G coverage and pave the way for 6G.

There are several, separate bands within that spectrum whose future must be decided. The goals are to ensure enough capacity is made available for 6G and a harmonised approach to the use of the spectrum across regions. The 7GHz-8GHz is seen as especially suited to 6G (shares similarities with spectrum already in use for 5G), along with 10-13GHz to ensure good network performance and lower investment, along with smoothing the transition from 5G to 6G.

Can 5G and Wi-Fi play nice?

Regarding 5G per se, there is a debate in some regions of the world about 6GHz. For example, the US, Canada and Latin America have decided to dedicate the spectrum’s use solely to Wi-Fi. In Europe there is a debate about possibly dividing it between 5G and Wi-Fi, with the upper bands going to cellular because it might be needed to avert a future capacity crunch. The massive markets of China and India are yet to express a preference.

Some believe that the upper parts of the 6GHz would allow 5G to work much better indoors than it does currently, helped by innovations like neutral hosts. Vodafone’s recent pilot, carried out in Spain, is a good example, achieving 2Gbps connections in various indoor locations.

Others, such as the Wireless Broadband Alliance, see the evolving Wi-Fi standards (like OpenRoaming and Wi-Fi 7) as the de facto technology for indoor coverage and 5G as its complementary outdoor counterpart in most circumstances.

Telia Norway pilots 5G and Wi-Fi

Telia Norway will put this co-existence to the test. Avinor, which operates most of Norway’s civil airports, will partner Telia Norway to explore the application of 5G and Wi-Fi to improve efficiency, safety and sustainability.

Ole Petter Røstad, Project Manager and Business Developer at Telia Norway, said, “During the pilot project, we will test how the management and transmission of data works over both the 5G network and Wi-Fi.

One of the projects will trial a 5G-controlled, self-propelled robot on the taxiways and runways to check the condition of landing lights, detect and chase away birds, and detect and remove foreign objects that could damage planes. It will also inspect cracks in runways.

Nokia outlines Technology Strategy 2030

Source: Nokia Technology Strategy 2030

On the last day of October, Nokia presented its Technology Strategy 2030. It is intended to highlight the trends and emerging technologies that will shape telecoms – and all that relies on them – for the next seven years. Nokia’s new Global Network Traffic 2030 report, reckons network traffic will rise dramatically to 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 22-25%. This will be driven by AI, machine learning, extended reality (XR), digital twins, automation and billions of connected devices. In short, Nokia predicts closer convergence of the digital, human and physical worlds.

To capitalise on these and other trends, such as cloud, the metaverse, Web3, 6G and security, the report concludes that there are nine main ways in which networks will need to adapt and transform.