Contributing Editor Annie Turner looks at some of the market and technology moves around network automation over recent weeks.
Telstra is claiming a world first is on the way – a suite of 5G Standalone automated and orchestrated services for enterprises. Ericsson says the two companies have stepped out of the lab “to deploy an automated standards-based network slicing service orchestration capability in the commercial network, using Ericsson Orchestration and Ericsson Inventory”.
New functions include: interworking with fully automated 5G network slicing; Local Packet Gateway which provides enterprise customers with on-site local data breakout; and 5G enterprise routers with network slicing capabilities, delivered by the Ericsson unit Cradlepoint.
With the 5G RAN and dual-mode 5G Core, Telstra should be able to offer enterprise customers differentiated services that deliver assured networ nk characteristics such as throughput, latency and resilience for digitised operations and processes.
And all that Jazz
Pakistan’s 4G operator, Jazz, has chosen Juniper Networks to build an expanded and upgraded data centre network to underpin Jazz’s services delivery platform for its 74.9 million subscribers. Jazz’s objective was to refresh its architectural approach, leveraging continuous automation, assurance and data-driven insights to deliver a better network user experience, at scale, while simplifying operations.
Jazz chose Juniper after a rigorous technology appraisal that focused on the operational and cost efficiencies made possible by network automation. According to the press release, “Juniper’s advanced automation capabilities, transforming the entire network management lifecycle process within a single system, were a standout in the market”.
Automation is the future
In early September, BT gave a progress report on its ambitious plans, outlined in summer 2021, to modernise its infrastructure. It reckons it can shave £500 million off its operating costs by getting rid of a long list networks and services based on legacy technologies by the end of the decade, with overall network running costs reduced by about 30%.
In a media session at its new London HQ, BT’s CTO Howard Watson said, “There remains a real challenge to earn a return on capital and we are a very infrastructure-intensive business and technology lifecycles are actually quite short”. BT’s Chief Architect, Neil McRae, added, “The future is about automation and network capability where you need it. With legacy that is not possible, and we want to shut that down.”
Still growth in BSS/OSS
Omdia’s practice leader, James Crawshaw, said he expects the telco IT market to exceed $40 billion by 2027, up from more than $30 billion in 2021. He explained that although BSS/OSS are seen as mature technologies, parts of that market thrived during the pandemic as service providers invested in better automation and customer experience for those platforms.
In particular he noted that over the last year, Amdocs, has enjoyed 8% organic growth, up from 2% where it had been for some years, and even that had been driven by acquisition to some extent. He also cited Netcracker’s success in this sphere, and Nokia and Ericsson’s significant presence, adding, “We try and work out what the revenues are of all of the major players and there’s a long tail…we track…or estimate the revenues of around 100 companies, but it’s really the top 10 that make up probably 40% of the revenue…that’s we get to for our estimate about $30 billion [now].”
Google Cloud joins TM Forum
Just in time for TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World in Copenhagen, Denmark, Google Cloud has joined the global association to help the telecoms industry unlock “growth and potential”. The hyperscaler is to work with the Forum and its members to realise the value of cloud-native automation in network evolution. This includes applying AI, like machine learning, to improve customers’ experience, and leveraging cloud computing to open new areas of growth and monetization.
Further, Google Cloud will work with the Forum’s members to help them “access a single source of truth around their data through better data management, automation, and data governance in multi-hybrid cloud environments”. This includes the two organisations demonstrating use cases that show how AI can optimise and modernise networks and helping to develop closed-loop APIs.
A different greenhouse effect
Vodafone has deployed a 5G private network at a Bayer greenhouse in Monheim, Germany, to improve its research into insecticides. The greenhouse covers 11,000 square meters and consists of 133 chambers, in each of which climatic conditions can be simulated with different temperatures and humidity, day lengths and so on. The network will support tools like autonomous robots, AI and digital imaging.
Alexander Saul, head of corporate customers at Vodafone Germany. “The basis for this is the 5G network with high bandwidths and extremely short response times to handle the amount of data generated transport and reliably maintain the flow of information.”
Autonomous robots can obtain knowledge about plants’ health quickly using AI and digital imaging via a series of 5G antennas that provide the greenhouse with a 5G Standalone connection, which Vodafone brands as 5G+.