Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/customer/www/futurenetworld.net/public_html/wp-content/themes/futurenet-group/template-parts/content.php on line 13

FutureNet World 2023: Highlights Video

Catch up with the highlights from FutureNet World in May 2023. Hear what the CxO Speakers & Delegates thought were the key topics and talking points from the event.


FutureNet World 2023 Awards – The winners who cleared the ever-higher bar

FutureNet World was delighted to announce and congratulate the winners of its prestigious industry awards during its eponymous, award-winning and very successful event in London on 3-4 May.

And here they are…

The Operator Award for the best example of an automation deployment (for operators or operators working with vendors) was won by China Mobile in collaboration with Huawei for their digital twin solutions for autonomous networks.

Over more than three years, the operator has developed large scale automation for the network operations and is on track to achieve Level 4 automation by 2025.

It uses the digital twin network (DTN) to create a virtual mirror image of the physical network to improve risk discovery and network service quality. It provides pre-verification and simulation for iterative services that are visual and can be customised.

China Mobile and Huawei are proving the feasibility and value of DTN in simplified operations, administration and management (OAM) and to evolve automation. Two use cases to illustrate their approach.

In the first, China Mobile Henan and China Mobile Zhejiang successfully deployed digital twin technology on their core networks. When faults occur, network exceptions are detected and handled quickly. The digital twin automatically evaluates the issue, using simulation to identify bottlenecks, expand capacity and adjust parameters whereas traditional evaluation is slow and inaccurate, and can cause secondary issues.

The project uses Heteroscedastic Evolutionary Bayesian Optimisation (HEBO) which won the NeurIPS 2020 black-box optimisation competition to ensure successful core network switchover.

In the second deployment, China Mobile Guangdong and Huawei used DTN for the optical transport network (OTN) and computing force network (CFN) business scenarios. CFN is a new information infrastructure that allocates and schedules compute, storage and network resources among clouds, networks and edges, according to business needs.

This set up was seen as “a major breakthrough” in supporting multiple digital services. For an Internet of Vehicles (IoV) service, the partners created service profiles for seven car companies and 2 million vehicles, based on the twin’s data. This included establishing the IoV visualisation system, implementing quality support for core services (like vehicle information reporting, remote wake-up, rescue and upgrades). The project improved traffic operational efficiency by 12%. CFN improved the use of resources by 17%. Operations and maintenance (O&M) costs fell by 21%.

Yao Yuan, Senior AN Project Manager, China Mobile, stated on winning the Award, “In future, we will continue to explore Level 4 highly Autonomous Networks technologies and contribute more excellent practices to the industry.”


The Automation Solution Award was won by Netcracker Technology for its cloud-native Network Domain Orchestration (NDO). Automating the transport domain is important to communication service providers (CSPs) as they strive to bring agility and cost efficiency to new, dynamic services and slices. Typically they have pockets of automation isolated around vendors’ solutions, so automating transport services across multiple layers, domains and vendors has not previously been possible.

Netcracker’s NDO takes a different approach and can be applied within a single layer – for example one that has multiple IP/MPLS vendors – or where multiple vendors are deployed across multiple layers of IP/MPLS, optical and microwave infrastructure. The solution can work directly with the IP/MPLS systems or via their network management systems (NMS). For complex optical systems, the NDO works via the NMS or software-defined network controllers.

NDO works and is co-developed in DevOps mode with customers, where Open APIs are exposed to simplify integration with brownfield OSS environments. NDO enables operators to do their own configurations and become more self-sufficient.

So far the company has commercial success with 11 NDO deployments, working with BICS, Deutsche Telekom (DT), Dish, Etisalat, Globe, Segra and Swisscom. For example, DT achieved opex savings of 54 % for IP trunk provisioning and 92% opex saving for optical trunk provisioning.

Peter Arbitter is Senior VP for B2B Portfolio & Product Management at Telekom Deutschland, Deutsche Telecom’s service unit for enterprise telco clients. He stated, “We looked at the hypercompetitive and critical enterprise market and knew we wanted the most cutting-edge automation software with a cloud deployment model so that we could gain new revenue streams in multiple B2B segments.

“Through our extensive collaboration with Netcracker, we have reached an important milestone that lays the foundation for innovation and business growth.”

Ari Banerjee, SVP Strategy at Netcracker, said, “Netcracker is delighted and honoured to receive the leading automation solution award from FutureNet World. Our CSP customers have experienced impressive results by bringing full automation and agility to their transport networks with our Network Domain Orchestration solution.

“Our goal is to leverage the proven successes of these innovative CSPs to help the telco industry accelerate automation projects across all network domains and prepare for a new era of highly dynamic services and slices that will transform telco value.”


The Network Disaggregation Award for the best example of a disaggregated networking solution was won by Rakuten Symphony for its cloud-native Open RAN software in collaboration with Rakuten Mobile.

Rakuten Mobile’s nationwide 4G/5G network in Japan is the world’s first mobile network built completely using Rakuten Symphony’s cloud-native, containerised Open RAN software. The software runs 5G RAN functions as microservices in containers on a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platform based on O-RAN specifications and cloud-native technologies.

The disaggregated RAN hardware and software, based on Open vRAN, enables independent lifecycle management and uses DevOps and CI/CD pipelines. Disaggregating the RAN network function into different microservices means memory size can be reduced for faster start-up and restarting of functions.

Fewer onsite RAN elements and the use of COTS hardware and automation support faster site installations and maintenance. This translates to 40% less capex and up to 30% less opex compared to traditional 5G deployments, with more efficient use of resources and power. The microservice architecture allows each function to scale independently, based on demand and performance.

Vendor diversity allows the use of best-of-breed components and software in architecting and building the infrastructure for the network. The results speak for themselves.

Independent analyst firm umlaut found that Rakuten Mobile’s network in Tokyo achieved an overall score of 945 out of 1,000 in the 14 largest metropolitan areas. It also received the second-highest score in terms of coverage and speed.

Provisioning of mobile services can take as little as 3 minutes instead of 3 hours. In terms of operating efficiency, Rakuten Mobile has a low ratio of 1 engineer: 20,000 subscribers and deployment can be 4 minutes for a 5G site.

Geoff Hollingworth, CMO at Rakuten Symphony, said, “Winning the Network Disaggregation Award at the FutureNet World Awards was a proud moment for Rakuten Symphony. It’s a stage that brings together trailblazers and we’re thrilled to be part of this vibrant innovation space.

“This award shines a spotlight on the transformative impact of Open RAN and reinforces our commitment to a software-centric approach, accelerating automation and swift delivery of telecom services.”


The most innovative application of AI & Automation to enhance customer experience went to VMware for its Network Scorecard rApp (powered by VMware RAN Intelligent Controller). This AI-driven application monitors a network’s market performance to enhance customer experience.

Operators that deploy Open RAN face the complex task of assessing the quality of their network across multiple markets. The networks are designed with different structures and forms, have various user traffic patterns and equipment from multiple vendors.

To succeed, operators must continuously monitor each market to detect performance issues before they impact customers. Without AI, this is an impossible task; traditional methods also ignore contextual factors that can cause unexpected network behaviour.

VMware Network Scorecard rApp, powered by the VMware Centralized RAN Intelligent Controller or RIC (that is, a non-real time RIC implementation) solves this time, resources and performance problem. It is fully automated and uses an AI-based analytical framework.

The Network Scorecard application ingests data from all sectors in all the markets it controls, adding context to the measured values, such as channel quality indicator (CQI). It assigns a ‘score’ to each market, based on how actual performance compares to the AI-derived benchmark. The insights generated from the comparison help the CSP to make network changes to remedy issues.

VMware Network Scorecard was built using the VMware RIC software development kit (SDK) to help onboarding by CSPs and is available to third-party developers via the RIC Partner Program. This is designed  to accelerate the development of xApps and  rApps. Various companies have brought their applications to market via the Partner Program, fast-tracking the latest research from universities and other bodies into commercial-ready solutions.

Stephen Spellicy, Vice President Service Provider Marketing, Enablement and Business Development, VMware, said, “I’m delighted that the judges recognised the VMware Network Scorecard rAPP in association with the VMware RIC as the winner for the Most Innovative Application of AI and Automation to enhance customer experience. Simplifying the network to produce clear and measurable benchmarks is a key operational need and assists operators in meeting their customer experience KPIs as we move towards an Open RAN architecture.

“VMware has always been an ecosystem player and, although the Network Scorecard is a VMware-developed product, I believe the judges recognised the lengths to which VMware goes to embrace the entire ecosystem.”


The Orchestration Award for the most innovative automated service orchestration solution was won by Inmanta for its Mobile Private Networks Orchestrator (MPNO) Solution. Inmanta’s patented service orchestration technology is the brainchild of three PhDs in computer science and the result of more than 15 years’ R&D. They says its key differentiator is being a purpose built, intent-based service orchestrator that is multi-domain by design.

On winning the award, Stefan Walraven, Co-founder & CEO of Inmanta, stated, “FutureNet World is the most prominent event for network automation, orchestration and AI in the telecom industry.

“Being judged by industry experts validates our dedication to pushing the boundaries of orchestration and reinforces our position as a trailblazer in the field. Receiving the award is a great recognition for the innovative work we do at Inmanta, especially winning in the face of all the other incredible nominees…who have made their mark in the industry.”

The MPNO allows multi-vendor private 5G networks to be deployed in less than 10 minutes, giving service providers the choice and flexibility to scale and create new revenue streams from the enterprise market.

The company claims MPNO is the first comprehensive orchestration solution in the market that deploys a fully automated end-to-end private network involving multiple vendors across edge, backhaul/transport, RAN, data centres and cloud, including setting up the data networks (that is, network slices) and configuring the firewalls.

Inmanta cited a customer case study whereby Citymesh uses the MPNO to deploy fully operational, private mobile networks in under 10 minutes commercially. Citymesh is a wireless B2B telecom operator, specialising in the design, fabrication, installation, deployment and management of wireless network solutions and products for the on and offshore critical operations and applications based on 4G/5G spectrum.

Citymesh is able to orchestrate and manage the lifecycle of its mobile private networks centrally and support frequent upgrades to its Athonet 5G Core, seamlessly and 100% unattended. Self-healing ensures the integrity and resilience of the private mobile networks, reducing what can be expensive operational costs in cases of failures, for example in off-shore networks.

Any new deployment will have automated testing, ensuring Citymesh’s customers have an operational network that complies with their SLAs. The end result is that Citymesh can scale hundreds of private networks with the same operations team.


The AIOps Award for the best operations solution incorporating AI functionality was presented to Nokia for its Homeview Solution in collaboration with BT.

BT manages nearly 10 million multi-vendor endpoints within UK homes including routers and set-top boxes. Delivering reliable, high-performance broadband to a big subscriber base was putting pressure on opex and resulted in long average call-handling times for customers phoning call centres with problems. Challenges in identifying problems and their resolution meant a high percentage of calls culminated in truck rolls to customers’ premises.

BT found that 60% of reported problems originated in the home Wi-Fi connectivity which is subject to all kinds of environmental issues, from impenetrable walls to radio interference.

BT wanted an AIOps solution to provide real-time observability, actionable recommendations and automated workflows to reduce the cost and complexity of fixed broadband troubleshooting, while providing better customer experience.

Nokia and BT developed HomeView which applies Bell Labs AI/ML predictive models to raw telemetry data from home devices to uncover correlations and causality related to current and potential network issues. BT’s broadband operations teams and more than 6,000 customer care agents are using the HomeView AIOps solution. So far it has saved more than £1 million annually through fewer truck-rolls and a further £1 million a year from shorter calls to customer care and proactive troubleshooting.

On average, BT now receives 260,000 fewer troubleshooting calls annually – the equivalent of 18,072 working days and, via the Smart Assistant, achieved a 10% improvement in first contact resolution.

Nokia and BT are implementing more than 30 ML- and analytics-based diagnostic capabilities this year to improve proactive identification and resolution of potential issues in the broadband network before they impact services. Nokia is also helping BT position itself to move up the value chain and address new revenue streams from future managed smart home opportunities.

“BT and Nokia partnered to revolutionise BT’s fixed broadband operations and customer care. Their collaborative effort produced HomeView, an AI/ML-powered solution that enhances the customer experience for BT subscribers and boosts operational efficiency with over 6,000 customer care agents benefiting from this innovation,” said Hamdy Farid, Senior Vice President, Business Applications at Nokia.

He added, “This award solidifies Nokia’s industry leadership in analytics, customer care automation, and carrier-grade device management, demonstrating its ability to drive tangible business results through AIOps for leading operators worldwide.”


The Network Sustainability Award for the best intelligent automation solution for network sustainability and energy efficiency was won by Ericsson and its Predictive Cell Energy Management (PCEM) solution. It is designed to reduce energy consumption by up to 8% while maintaining network quality and customer experience. As PCEM has a cloud-native architecture, it is also instantly scalable.

Over the last 18 months, Ericsson has run 20 trials of PCEM and customer deployments involving 6 million cells. Through supporting 16 billion predictions and automated activities in a year, it saved $60 million on energy on top of existing RAN energy-saving features and reduced CO2 by 200,000 tons.

PCEM´s Intelligence & Recommendation Engine provides granular, real-time data on energy consumption and performance for individual cells. This allows operators to define data-driven protocols, powered by multiple AI – machine learning – algorithms that allow operators to respond dynamically to hourly, daily and seasonal traffic changes, with very high accuracy, on a per cell basis.

In parallel, the solution’s Automation Engine implements the best energy-saving actions for a specific site at a particular moment using closed loop automation.

This approach contrasts with most energy saving applications on the RAN which tend to use the RAN power-saving features available with each different type of radios. Although they allow the radios to be activated and deactivated instantly, based on real-time traffic changes, they can only be configured based on certain traffic configurations and thresholds (like power use).

They do not have dynamic management protocols or tools to address different traffic (urban, sub-urban, rural etc.) and network configuration profiles. Hence operators tend to use blanket configurations at a network level and the power saving features only work on their designated technology (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G).

Sam Keys-Toyer, Head of Business & Portfolio Development for Managed Network Services, said, “We are incredibly proud to see our efforts are recognised outside the company on such an important topic not only for our customers, but for the planet.

“We are dedicated to creating a more sustainable future and this recognition is true testimony to how the Ericsson Operations Engine continues to transform network operations to be data driven, with a strong focus on reducing energy consumption for our CSP customers, while maintaining optimal network performance”.


The Technology Leader Award – Outstanding contribution throughout their career was won by Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer, Telefónica.

Watch the moment Enrique Blanco was awarded for an outstanding contribution throughout his career…


Congratulations again to all our winners and to everyone who submitted an entry. This was a truly outstanding field.


FutureNet World 2023: The Six ‘Ps’ Shaping Automation Strategies

Robert Curran, Consulting Analyst at Appledore Research shares his takeaways from FutureNet World 2023

I blame Neil McRae.

If, as a 15-year-old he hadn’t given a future tech giant a point-by-point rundown of the shortcomings of his company’s development platform, the course of IT – and thereby Telecom – history might have been very different.

We might have believed that low-to-zero growth was a reasonable ambition. That innovation meant engineers working in rarefied labs on long-range projects, rather than addressing the needs of today’s customers. Or that the whole business of telecom was somehow too special for its very foundations to be rocked.

But that’s not how things are panning out. Such beliefs are not the future of telecom, an industry which is now more fundamentally intertwined than ever with our personal, social, corporate, economic and environmental progress.

The good news is that on the basis of FutureNet World 2023, telecom might just be getting it. Far greater automation and intelligence are essential and fundamental, even if technology is only one component of the way forward. There is a greater urgency in the air, and perhaps even a better sense of the sheer scale of the opportunities ahead. FutureNet World 2023 was an excellent window into current industry thinking and progress.


Kicking Off

The opening panel was pretty lively, with the people truly responsible for networks sharing some home truths, as well as acknowledging achievements.

Scott Petty, CTO at Vodafone, Greg McCall (Chief Networks Office) and Enrique Blanco (CTIO, Telefonica) were all pretty frank about the state of telecom. It is not the most well-liked sector (for consumers or investors), and its very success in providing resilient massive scale connectivity, has led to it being somewhat taken for granted. Nonetheless, telecom is under-fulfilling its potential. In hard economic terms, it’s not making decent returns for investors, and the future looks worse – unless we get serious about change.

There was a mood that telco does need to change and must look to new relationships and ways of working. Perhaps that is only to be expected at a conference on Automation, but this sample of telecom CxOs seems at least to be speaking with increased urgency. Certainly, these operators see a radically different future for their companies, specifically as software and solutions companies.

“All of us will become software organizations”

Ciena’s Joe Cumello referenced the 200+ projects that Blue Planet has gobally, and the need for more than just technology. The people and project skills – especially the ability to work with in cross-silo collaboration – are essential.

Vodafone commented that while telco had been keen on outsourcing, in a software era that model wouldn’t work. The pace of change, and the opportunities that brings, mean that telcos need to build up their own software skills. All speakers agreed that technology is not the problem, with BT talking about a new cadre of “netware people” with both network and IT skills.

“Let’s not fight over the crumbs, but [partner to] make a bigger cake” – Vodafone’s Andrea Dona, on the purpose of partnerships.

Enrique Blanco stressed the need for strong partnerships with common purpose – sustainability, autonomation top of the list.

Cumello emphasized the need for not-just-technology solutions. That goes all the way to how budget is allocated, who owns it, and the need for a new level of co-ordinating and coherence in how projects are initiated and managed. Network, IP and Ops are increasingly interdependent stakeholders – people! – and any talk of transformation must involve all three.

The real challenge today is brownfield, since that is where most people work, most of the network is, and most of the spend. Cumello summed up with “the future is now”, calling for telcos to accept that working practices of the last 20 years are essentially end-of-life.



Not for the first time at a telecom conference, network slicing once again received a rather mixed reception.

Like Swisscom, BT’s Principal Network Strategist, Viraj Abhayawardhana, articulated a strategy based on delivering customers the best experience not necessarily the first. Could the priority given to “time-to-market” be giving way to a “best-to-market”? Or is this just a spin on CSP lack of ambition?

Undeterred, Colt’s Aaron Partouche talked about the need for an intelligent digital infrastructure and slicing as a “key pillar” of its strategy, though with closed-loop automation yet to be implemented.

Slicing continues to be accompanied by a large question mark, as operators struggle to figure out how to make a viable business model out of many niche requirements.



Industry discussion on Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) continues to be somewhat muddled. Speakers from Colt, Swisscom and Itential did their best, but beyond the most basic of principles, the conversation diverges.

“On-demand” isn’t necessarily “Network-as-a-Service”. Nor are Network APIs. Johanne Mayer, the TM Forum’s transformation lead, commented “true NaaS means taking things out of current IT systems (i.e. BSS).” She went a step further: “a product that is defined in the BSS is a problem”. Such de-layering is a vision that Telenor seems all in on.

“Legacy network is a limiting factor” in achieving speed, said Ruza Sabanovic, EVP and Chief Technology Officer, Telenor. (Via its JV with Cisco, Telenor spin-out Working Group Two is offering a 100% cloud-based mobile core to support MVNOs).

“The integrated model for supporting enterprises is dead, disaggregated platforms are the future.”

Telenor is clearly in the Open camp and wants the global industry to get on board.

If it is to mean anything, then NaaS must be about more than simply exposing network APIs. There are a host of operational and commercial considerations needed, and at the end of it all, the need to make it profitable. What is also clear is that automation once again rises to the top – NaaS without automation makes no sense.



5G SA is lagging. A lack of compatible devices, “suboptimal” CNFs (according to Vodafone’s Andrea Dona), and a missing killer use case are all dampening enthusiasm from telcos. Even if broadcasting is all up for it (Vodafone recently made a splash about the use of its 5G SA to carry TV from the coronation of King Charles III).

Dona admitted that the resources required for OSS transformation that 5G SA requires just haven’t been there, but that managing the transition to cloud-native will be the difference between winners and also-rans.

In enterprise, 5G SA is seeing lots of pilots, but the question is whether telcos will be able to scale multiples of these up into a meaningful (and profitable!) line of business.

Swisscom, a noted pioneer, has been intentionally cautious on 5G SA. As Mark Duessner, EVP of Mobile put it, “the market is not demanding [its] features”, buying more time for the operator to plan an eventual transition. It is not the benefits of 5G that are in question, but the benefits relative to 4G. Fundamentally, the NSA to SA is characterized by a shift from virtual network functions to fully containerized.

BT Digital’s Chief Architect Josie Smith added a welcome perspective to the event, reminding attendees and panelists that between a network API and the customer is an applications team whose primary question is not “How can I use this?” but “what is this going to do for customers?” Even within a single telco, the internal supply chain is changing. It’s all very well to imagine 5G SA applications, but there is no substitute for living enterprise customers’ experience. She also referred to progress in applying DevSecOps in BSS, but urged operators to take AIOps down into the network domain, citing BT’s partnership with ServiceNow Dynatrace as a source of learnings.

Michal Patryk Debickji from Reailize (a B-yond company) called out that today’s 5G had been deployed “like 4G”, with key new components (such as NWDAF) specifically left out because of their unfamiliarity to Ops teams.


Telco as a Platform

Deutsche Telekom’s Thomas van Briel (SVP Architecture & Strategy) explained DT’s Telco as a Platform (TaaP) vision, and how just a year ago (!) the company had reset its course to become a “leading digital telco”, fully embracing the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture. A pan-European Digital NOC is now resolving 70% of trouble tickets automatically and has cut truck rolls by 15%.

Thomas van Briel explains Deutsche Telekom’s Telco-as-a-Platform Strategy

160 Network Functions (40%) have been cloudified, with a that number expected to be almost 75% in 2025.

“Infrastructure should be seen as a commodity, not a differentiator”.

DT adopts a multi-cloud strategy, using hyperscalers where it makes sense. As Thomas put it: infrastructure is not a differentiator. On the other hand, automation certainly can be a differentiator, especially when it can be reused across any cloud-native network function. DT has a set of twelve key criteria from Orchestratability (my word) to license model that it uses to qualify network functions.

Thomas was one of many speakers to reference CAMARA, which will see DT put three of that initiative’s 20 APIs into commercial availability during 2023.

He signed off by commenting that it is more important to equip current teams with digital skills than seek new hires.


Open…for Business

Telus’ CTO Ibrahim Gedeon was frank about the cost of embracing openness. MTN’s Group CIO Nikos Angelopoulos was likewise sober about the industry’s progress in delivering the benefits of fully open networks. Basak Fouladi, CTO for KPN, also highlighted the gap between a decade of talking open and seeing it benefit telcos on a global scale.

Yet all were clear that open-ness is vital to greater speed. Amdocs’ Niall Norton sensed an “urgency shift”. It made for a lively discussion (“5G NSA is a travesty!” said Gedeon).



FutureNet World’s awards offer more signs for optimism over mere wishful thinking. It is good that large vendors feature in FutureNet World’s shortlists, and among the winners. By definition, their improvements have the greatest potential to affect the industry. But it is also good to see that they are not the only companies with automation successes to shout about: Cohere Technologies, Inmanta (a winner this year) demonstrate that operators should remain open-minded, and that no vendor has a monopoly on innovation.

Awards went to:

  • Best Automation Deployment – China Mobile, with Huawei.
  • Best Automation Solution – Netcracker for Network Domain Orchestration.
  • Best Network Disaggregation Award – Rakuten Symphony/Mobile for cloud-native Open RAN.
  • Most Innovative AI for Customer Experience – VMWare, with Network Scorecard rApp using the VMware RIC.
  • Best Orchestration Award – Inmanta, for Mobile Private Networks solution
  • Best AIOps Solution – Nokia, with BT for Homeview
  • Sustainability Award – Ericsson, for their Predictive Cell Energy Management solution.

The Technology Leadership for Enrique Blanco is fully deserved and was very graciously accepted. His call to “continuously learn” should be seen as a challenge to us all, more than an explanation of his own achievements.

Enrique Blanco Receives the Technology Leadership Award


Wrapping Up

Neil McRae closed the event with passion and not a little provocation. If his presentation made for uncomfortable listening, so much the better. Home truths are what an industry in search of its future needs.

To summarize a lively Q&A, the biggest threat that telecom faces is believing that DNA-level change is a bigger risk than maintaining the current way of working. (Yes, read that again). The challenges that telecom can – and should – help to solve range from personal to truly global, and everything in between.

My takeaway from the event was that six ‘Ps’ now are now shaping telecom automation strategies. They are: Programmability, Profitability, Platforms, People, Partnerships, and Planet. All six were strong themes at FutureNetWorld 2023.

The five-year-old FutureNet World conference series, free from legacy and excess baggage that other conferences may carry, provides the perfect and thoroughly professional forum for the industry to air, and rise to, this unique opportunity.

Next year’s FutureNet World will be at the later date of 1-2 October. 

Listen to Robert Curran and Francis Haysom’s post-show discussion on FutureNet World and RCR Wireless Live! in the Appledore Podcast.

* Blog original posted on the Appledore Research website on 15 May 2023 *


Announcing the FutureNet World 2023 Advisory Board

FutureNet World is excited to unveil the 2023 Advisory Board, a group of 22 senior executives who help guide the focus and direction that the award winning FutureNet World takes and ensures that it remains relevant and of value to the industry. This group includes members from many of the leading CSPs from across the globe, key industry organisations and is representative of the ecosystem.

FutureNet World looks through the lens of the CSP and is focused on the strategic and commercial decisions that telcos are making today and the considerations for the network. The event is dedicated to drive the agenda around ´Network Automation and AI´, a core foundational pillar for the next wave of growth in telecoms.

2023 Members:

Kim Krogh Andersen, Product & Technology – Group Executive, Telstra | Mallik Rao, Chief Technology & Information Officer, Telefonica Germany | Babak Fouladi, Chief Technology and Digital Officer, KPN | Dr. Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO, TELUS | Brian King, CIO, T-Mobile USA | Sharad Sriwastawa, Chief Technology Officer, Rakuten Mobile, Inc. | Philippe Ensarguet, CTO, Orange Business Services | Matteo Gatta, CEO, BICS | Mark Newman, Chief Analyst, TM Forum | Thomas van Briel, SVP Architecture & Strategy, Deutsche Telekom | Terje Jensen, Senior VP & Head of Global Network Architecture, Telenor | Juan Manuel Caro, Director Autonomous Network and JV´s Technology, Telefónica | Mark Duesener, EVP Mobile Networks and Services, Swisscom | Alessandra Pavese, Head of Network Evolution and Automation, Vodafone | Bastien Bianchi, Director Core Network and Transmission Solutions, Orange Belgium | Ton Brand, Director Standards Development Centre, ETSI | Kirsty Bright, Director of Network Innovation & Transformation, Virgin Media O2 | Luis Anaya, Head of Technology, Vodafone Group | Imen Grida Ben Yahia, Program Lead- AI Empowered Networks, Orange | Diego Lopez, Senior Technology Expert, Telefonica | Dimitris Mavrakis, Senior Research Director, ABI Research | Arpit Joshipura, GM Networking & Orchestration + Edge/IOT, Linux Foundation

Commenting on the Advisory Board, Giles Cummings, Founder & CEO of FutureNet World, said: “Since launching FutureNet World in 2019, I have been humbled by the incredible support we have received from senior executives who invest their valuable time into making sure our event remains timely and relevant for the industry. Their knowledge, insight and expertise are key to the work we do as we continue to provide an important platform to help CSPs unlock the full value of intelligent automation and help them to accelerate growth, competitiveness, and networks for the future.”

FutureNet World takes place on 3-4 May at The Novotel West, London.

FutureNet World 2022 – Review

Contributed by Robert Curran, Appledore Research.

Back to the Future(Net)

May 2022 saw the welcome return to London of an in-person FutureNet World. This consistently well-produced event series attracted a more than decent crowd, and the size and format encouraged a more relaxed and revealing set of presentations and panels.

And this meant good news and bad news. The good news: there is now a greater awareness of the need for, and challenges of, automation. The bad news: awareness isn’t necessarily translating into progress. At least, not the pace of progress we were all envisaging three years ago…

There’s no question that the mood was positive, and certainly some progress here and there (the worthy award-winners offer fair evidence of that). But as an industry, these still seem to be the exceptions, the pioneers, the mavericks. While these accelerate off the starting line, mainstream telecom seems to be still struggling to tie its shoelaces (and even a little uncertain where the finish line actually is).

FutureNet World 2022 fairly reflects the state of the industry on automation: it’s early days. But operators in particular should not be lulled into thinking that means there is plenty of time available to address it. The dawning reality of 5G, the rapid progress of hyperscalers, action on climate change all point to the need to make automation a top priority now. And more than a few on the vendor side have already invested ahead of the curve.

Black Holes and Revelations

TMForum’s Mark Newman kicked off the event by reflecting that the biggest change in the telecom industry in the last three years has been the increasing importance of “the hyperscalers”. The statement that the most significant change in telecom comes from outside of telecom somewhat set the stage for a series of other refreshingly frank admissions from presenters.

In the opening panel, BT CTIO Howard Watson was honest enough to admit that “We [in telecom] missed the boat on IoT.”

Telus’ Ibrahim Gedeon, later recipient of a Technology Leader Award for outstanding personal contribution to automation, declared that “the [telecom] cost structure has to come down by a factor of 10.”

Telefonica Germany’s CTO Mallik Rao popped another bubble: “People don’t care about slicing. What problem are we solving?” BT’s Neil McRae echoed the sentiment later: “5G is about collaboration, not slicing.”

Blue Planet’s Rick Hamilton offered a bald reality check: “5G is finally forcing us to rethink how we do business”. Although with “the year of 5G” first declared as long ago as 2017, it seems a long time for the industry to only now be realizing what it really means.

Orange advised peer telcos that Managed Service contracts for networks might represent a major hole in strategies intended to make use of vast amounts of network data, since access to data is not typically part of such deals. Worth checking the small print…

Huawei shared some details of network automation work with MTN Group, where the automation challenge is made more urgent by the need to cope with 150 fiber cuts per month (3 would be plenty for a typical telco.)

Open RAN

A panel on Open RAN surfaced some other honest admissions. Remco Helwerda, Advisor to KPN, acknowledged that open platforms are the way to go, but that KPN for one just does not have the people needed to deploy and work with them.

But Open RAN champion Andrea Dona (Vodafone) cautioned operators to look past the complexity of open RAN and focus on the opportunities it creates. “We won’t fix profitability if we stay closed.”

According to Netcracker’s Ari Banerjee, “lots of private 5G networks are single vendor” adding that more open architectures would be needed to deliver the nimbleness that enterprises will want.

Telecom & Hyperscalers

Disaggregation pioneer Deutsche Telekom at least offered a clear demarcation between hyperscalers and telcos: “Telcos ought not to be in the cloud infrastructure business. But running telco workloads in that cloud – that’s what telcos should be good at.” Microsoft’s Martin Taylor (former CTO at Metaswitch) echoed that, adding a reality-check on edge, at least in Europe, where a national data center effectively is the edge, capable of delivering sub-10msec latency reliably.

5G Standalone

Normally progressive Swisscom was happy to let someone else be first to market with 5G Standalone: “not yet”, acknowledging BT’s comment that 5G SA is “an inflexion point for automation”. 5G SA finally turns a network management challenge into a set of large-scale distributed software management challenges, with multiple software releases per month, and new supporting operational disciplines are needed to enable that. And for good measure: “Orchestration is not a differentiator”, an interesting comment that Lumen might disagree with. On the credit side, Swisscom does claim a strong zero-touch implementation, at least for its RAN, with 25 closed-loop use-cases up and running.

HPE was one of many presenters and panelists to talk about the potential for much faster decision-making in the network, when data arrives without the 15- or 30-minute lag that frames conventional OSS.


Panel Discussion: The Cloud Native Telco – next generation operating models

Cloud-native is where the industry needs (and wants) to be but is facing severe challenges: fierce competition across all industries for suitably skilled staff for one. The lack of credible roadmaps from key vendors was cited as another.

Now part of Rakuten Symphony, Robin.io reiterated how central cloud-native has been to the Rakuten Mobile vision from the beginning. Interestingly, Partha Seetala, now President of Rakuten Symphony’s Cloud business unit, highlighted how cloud-native is an innovation-focused paradigm, more to do with accelerating how products are built, and less about how they run in live operations.


In a standout panel moderated by Patrick Kelly on Automation and Disaggregation featuring BT (Neil McRae), Infovista (Franco Messori), Telenor’s Teje Jensen shared that it has automated over 60% of its technical processes – though mostly through “simple robotics”.

But sentiment on disaggregation itself was varied. The truth is that telecom is troubled by disaggregation. It does not know how it will define SLAs for customers where it does not own the entirety of the service. It is not certain where customers see sufficient value to pay for.

“If automation isn’t in your top three things to do then you’re in trouble”, Neil McRae, BT Chief Architect.


5G Network slicing increasingly feels like something the industry is supposed to want, like Cherry Coke, a free U2 album, or a Clubhouse account, but really can’t find a compelling enough reason. Sooner or later the industry will move on and solve actual problems.

BT’s Neil McRae offered some real-world examples of problem-solving, 5G-enabled applications from logistics and transportation. Applications that use network in a different way; simple things that are made possible by 5G. The question is not how fast 5G is, but where it is. For example, data from the 478 sensors on a train that can be used (and presumably, pooled across an entire fleet), to predict potential failures. BT referenced various projects underway at UK ports where there are numerous possibilities to combine wireless data and analysis to control cranes, schedule vehicles, use drones to inspect equipment, ensure safety, use AR to help maintenance and so on. (Ports are an area that Three UK is also exploring. Three is the largest holder of UK 5G spectrum),

“Stupid Automation”

Juan Manuel Caro, Director of Operations Transformation for Telefonica has automated traffic management in its international network, re-routing traffic onto optimal routes to keep within SLAs on QoS or cost. It’s basic, but it works.

But there are significant cost savings available from basic automation of less technical work. Juan Manuel referred to an invoice reconciliation process saving tens of millions of euros. Network smarts aren’t the only way to reduce cost, and telcos can still be satisfied with less ambitious targets. “We need to go fast, but not superfast”.


Clearly, telcos and enterprises are having some difficulty engaging. Especially on anything more interesting or sophisticated than straight connectivity. (Some evidence for that in the latest re-org of BT’s Enterprise business unit. This handles BT’s UK business customers (BT Global handles its multi-national business). In February 2022, BT established “Division X”, now folded into BT Enterprise, with a mission to innovate solutions for enterprises leveraging IoT, Edge and the like to enterprise. 2022, people.)

Enterprise customers want simple solutions, to actual problems. As a telco, if you don’t know what *actual* problem you are solving for your customers, don’t waste time telling customers how great your network technology is.


In a late panel session on Sustainability, Orange, Nokia and Three UK provided some insights into how its approach to ESG objectives.

According to Nokia, only about 20% of energy used is in transporting data. The other 80% goes on cooling, lighting, heating. Energy consumption is measured by (frankly) reading the meter and totalling up invoices from electricity providers.

A sustainability consultant brought in to advise Orange provided her initial assessment of the state of energy monitoring in telecom, as “like being in the Middle Ages”. After 6 months, she revised it… to “pre-historic”.

That said, Orange has stable consumption of 2.2GWhr/year – decommissioning of older equipment is certainly a major factor, as is the switch from copper to fiber. But these are not yet the sort of sophisticated, AI-enabled, data-driven, micro-changes that the industry imagines.

Three concurred. Three has committed to switching off its 3G network in 2024 (although 3G data accounts for only 2% of its data traffic).


The FutureNetWorld awards represent a manageable set of acknowledgements for progress on the road to full automation:

  • The Operator Award – best example of a successful automation deployment – Rakuten Symphony
  • The Automation Solution Award – leading solution for network automation – Blue Planet, a Ciena Company
  • The Orchestration Award – The most innovative automated service orchestration solution – VMWare
  • The AIOps Award – The best operations solution incorporating AI functionality – Huawei
  • The most innovative application of AI & Automation – to enhance customer experience – Nokia and China Mobile
  • The Technology Leader Award – Outstanding contribution to automation throughout their career (by nomination only) – Ibrahim Gedeon, Telus.

Wrap up

The event was very well supported, and not just according to the headline attendee numbers but also the quality and mix of attendees, speakers, sponsors, analysts and commentators.

To its credit, FutureNet World does not get unbalanced by a fixed perspective. It includes some 5G talk but isn’t a 5G event. It includes discussion of APIs and open interfaces but isn’t pushing itself any particular standards agenda. It of course accommodates Open RAN, but as an event, it isn’t necessarily flying that flag either. And that’s good. Because the challenges that face the industry demand that people step away from preconceptions about technology, or individual causes – or even from decades of accumulated experience. As the old saying goes: “Fortune favors the brave”. In pursuing automation, it’s time to be bold.

FutureNet World ’22 Review – Challenging & Possible

Contributed by CTO, Alejandro Medina, Future Connections.

The world is changing in so many ways, and so are the telecom industry landscape and the discussion platforms too. Attending for the first time FutureNet Word ’22 last May gave me a fresh insight into the current challenges faced by the industry players. I found particularly refreshing the openness and honesty of both operators and suppliers in sharing their experiences and thoughts, as they are all in the quest to find meaningful solutions to common challenges. The discussions also reassured me that the solutions sought are not in the hands of just a few large players, but small and upcoming specialist suppliers have a key role too in helping network operators to move forward along their transformation journey to secure their survival and future.
The key challenges that the telecom industry is facing are multiple and linked to each other:


  • Hyperscalers – Network operators are fully aware that they risk of becoming a commodity as market conditions are increasingly tougher, more players target the same customer base and red tape requirements increase. Hyperscalers have aggressively entered the market and win customers over with their fresh approach based on flexible innovative technology rather than constrained legacy one, personalised answer to customer’s requirements and services offered on the public cloud. Operators need to effectively up their game and speed up their digital journey if they want to win against such competition. They must provide added value services and create new revenue streams, find ways to listen more to the customers and embrace fully DevOps as a much more agile methodology. They can achieve all this if they fast-track automation towards zero-touch in all its forms, embrace data analytics and leverage all possible service delivery methods beyond public cloud (fixed, mobile, hybrid and private cloud). They should also prepare for the new opportunities that OpenRAN seems to promise. Although this new delivery method still has a way to go, operators, suppliers and relevant associations can work together to prepare the right environment and standard for it to become a lucrative reality soon.


  • Automation – Although it means different things to different people, automation has become a must for all operators. It was clear during the event that, indeed, all operators have initiated their own journey towards automation, but each follows its own path based on the unique reality faced. Automation is extremely important not just as means to reduce manual intervention, lower costs and improve customer experience’s quality. Operators believe it is also vital in order to prepare their network and operations – whether in the BSS or OSS area – for the disaggregation of software and hardware that is clearly coming. It was noted, though, that the expertise and knowledge required to progress the journey towards automation is not always readily available within the operator’s workforce. This is why specialised third parties – small and large, well established and newcomers – can play a great role in supporting operators to achieve network and operations’ automation


  • Data – Improved customer experience and automation cannot be achieved without a real understanding of the value of data and their correct use. The speakers at FutureNet World clearly showed, in theory and with real use cases, that a focus on data collection, integration, correlation and, above all, analysis and interpretation, can heavily inform a company’s decision making process and guide its automation efforts, often overcoming blocks created by operational silos and departments. In our daily dealings with operators, though, we have noticed that action lags behind intent more often than not. Operators can find in third party specialists the experience, knowledge, guidance and dedicated manpower to make their data work harder for them, and to achieve this at a much faster pace.


The event’s discussions made it clear that no operator can succeed alone in facing and overcoming the telecom industry’s challenges, as there are plenty of them: legacy technology, limited automation, software and hardware disaggregation, hyperscalers’ competition, increased importance of customers’ experience, as well as increasingly limited highly specialised technology workforce. The only way forward is for operators and suppliers to join forces, forge strong partnerships and create an ecosystem where everybody, and ultimately, the customers, will win. Small specialist suppliers like us will be able to play their part too in the advancement of the industry by helping the operators to fill their specific gaps and overcome their limitations flexibly, with clear timeframes and specialist in-depth knowledge. It is indeed time to work together.

FutureNet Asia: Review by Appledore Research

Contributed by Robert Curran, Consulting Analyst, Appledore Research

Europe’s telcos are, broadly speaking, much like one another. In Asia, it’s a much more varied story. 

FutureNet’s first Asia-focused event was an ambitious undertaking. Asia is home to a around 60% of the world’s population. It includes 48 countries, two of which are the world’s most populous nations – China and India. It covers 11 timezones. FutureNet Asia did indeed cover a lot of ground (and sea). The challenges and contexts of an M1 (one of four operators in Singapore – total population just short of 6m) are radically different to those of say Reliance Jio or Airtel (the world’s second and third largest mobile operators with over 440m subscribers each). No doubt that the Nordic countries have challenging topography, but Telenor’s Asian interests include Pakistan (pop. 226m), Bangladesh (pop. 166m), Thailand (pop. 70m) and Malaysia (30m).

What Asia doesn’t know about connecting people probably isn’t worth knowing.

The Future: Not What it Used To Be

Ciena Blue Planet’s Kailem Anderson was the first but far from the only speaker to point out that telcos are no longer at the top of the food chain: a future of interdependent partnerships is the only model for success in 5G and edge. M1’s Chief Digital Officer, Nathan Bell, predicted a wary co-existence between hyperscalers and telcos going forward.

In the session on 5G and Edge, Singtel’s Director of 5G Customer Engagement highlighted the critical difference about 5G relative to previous Gs: its impact will be on industry. But regulation of spectrum for private 5G varies from country to country – one of the factors that limit the ability to see private 5G as a single global market.

In the same session, Juniper’s VP for 5G was all in on network slicing being the key to success of 5G. By which he meant not just the network tech, but the operational reality that must come with it: orchestration, AI-enabled closed loop automation. (Something we’ve covered extensively here).

At least Singtel actually has some network slices (sort of). However, they reckoned it is still another 18 months before a service orchestrator can handle heady visions of dynamic network slicing.

Beyond Connectivity

Airtel’s CTO argued that telcos must find new value beyond connectivity, with millions of connected devices (and related requirement for analytics) offering one route forward. Nathan Bell for M1 already sees the future in a new model of cross-functional service creation teams, and telco as a platformTelstra’s Kim Krogh Andersen, Group Exec for Product & Technology, gave a good account of how Telstra is going about supporting digitization in three major verticals – and it’s not about how good their connectivity is.

Edge isn’t a panacea. It’s not even always necessary – in smaller countries, latency might already be good enough without edge. For NTT DoCoMo, however, having a 5G network is all about having the edge. And it’s something they already have over 100 customers using.

AI, Automation, Orchestration

No conference on the future of telecom is complete without Rakuten, and FutureNet Asia was no exception. The thing to remember about Rakuten is that they are not offering just a blueprint of the future – they are already living in the house they built. When their Global Head of AI shares that he shifted from “federated AI” to “democratized AI”, that’s important information to take on board.

Teresa Monterio from Infinera urged operators to walk before running with Zero Touch Automation, and to be sure to focus on selecting business problems first rather than selecting technology.

The discussion of automation is evolving rapidly: automating for efficiency is already an out-dated ambition. Automating for resilience (or security) is the new mission. It’s a topic that got TelstraRobin.io and Airtel talking. It’s a topic Appledore has covered extensively.

For me, the standout discussion was on Dynamic Orchestration, which leaned towards the IT architects in the audience. Telstra’s Chief Architect Mark Sanders explained the new foundations needed even before dynamic orchestration: domain-driven design, discoverable services, intent and (of course) AI in a closed loop driving policy changes.

Airtel stressed the importance of data factors in orchestration – only once a decision is made can an orchestrator act. And that’s when things can get complicated: how to deal with sub-domains provided by hyperscalers? How to respond when end user devices are in motion, not at rest? How to take account of network congestion when scaling an application out? How to orchestrate across both internal and external systems (In Airtel’s case, just buying a SIM involves 16 internal and 6 external systems…)? (Appledore has a good deal of published research on Orchestration).


Judged on this event, there’s a breathy excitement about the future of telecom (and telcos) in Asia. But there is quite a lot of foundational adjustment still to do. Automation isn’t really about efficiency anymore. Orchestration is much more than workflow. 5G is about a lot more than just radio. Telcos need strategies that see them taking a smaller part of a much larger pie.

Thankfully, I heard just the one reference (each) to robot surgery and dumb pipes, which is a sign both of progress and of attentive curation from the FutureNet organizers. Judge for yourself.

See more from Appledore Research

FutureNet Asia 2021 Preview

Six key speakers at our FutureNet World Asia event answered a rapid round of questions on everything from the edge and ecosystems, to multi-cloud strategies and winning use cases, but put customer experience at the heart of them all.

Making quality of service as transparently visible as the clear sky

Asif Rashid, CIO, Robi Axiata

The profound changes underway in operators’ networks and operations have been propelled by the twin drivers of meeting customers’ evolving needs and ensuring healthy returns for stakeholders, says Asif Rashid, CIO, Robi Axiata. He sums up the dilemma operators are in as they strive to transform: “Many telcos have not been built over the years to switch gears just like that”.

He muses, “An ad hoc approach may not work. The preferred approach seems to be creating a new target operating model and carefully balancing the legacy and the new digital businesses through separate playbooks.”

“The optimum model for running a 5G business would vary market to market. For many Asian markets, the NSA-based [non-standalone-] overlay model may work quite well as cost of 5G SA [Standalone] may not have immediate payback. So telcos may opt for organic addition of a 5G-focused operating and organisational model, Rashid notes.”

“A 5G world is a service-oriented one,” he stresses and warns against operators committing to value propositions they cannot deliver because users will not be fooled. He states, “The QoS [quality of service] would be as transparently visible as the clear sky”.

Rashid continues, “If a telco leaves out AI and automation from its transformation model, it will most likely end up having a model that won’t sustain. The telcos that leverage cloud, AI and automation as their key enablers for supporting their transformation model are more likely to keep their costs and efforts at optimum level, have more diversified offerings for their customers, achieve their goals faster, and be able to tweak their models as they experiment with them in their markets of operation.”

Changing perceptions

Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Airtel

Randeep Sekhon, CTO, Airtel believes that the rapid digitalisation of customers’ lifestyles is already revolutionising how they view telecom providers. He says that tomorrow’s customer will see unlimited and ubiquitous connectivity as ever more critical as they navigate more areas of their life digitally, from socialising to study and work.

He reckons, “Customers will expect a simple, converged service provider that can take care of all of their digital lifecycle requirements [and] stitch together journeys across different access networks and on different engagement channels – on-line or off-line.” The question is, can operators meet these tough demands?

Sekhon says operators needto build converged network which can be orchestrated through APIs”. He adds, “Ecosystem partners need to leverage each other’s strengths and stitch business process [between] themselves to give users seamless experience. APIs from the telecom network would enable network exposure and configuration as needed by the application provider or user’s preferences.”

He continues, “Telcos must look at taking the lead in building the partner ecosystem to enable all these current and new age services” and insists that “Customer centricity is the guiding principle for any successful business. How comprehensively are we able to listen to the end customer and efficiently translate those needs into products and services will be key drivers of success in the market.”

AI key to translation

Nathan Bell, Chief Digital Officer, M1

Nathan Bell, Chief Digital Officer at M1, thinks AI centred on the network will be a “gamechanger” when it comes to translating customers’ needs into the products and services they want. He says, “The real key will be the ability to leverage network systems that can learn, assess, adapt and recommend to meet customers’ dynamic requirements.” He sees AI working hand-in-glove with automation, which he describes as “critical”.

“The opportunity lies in being able to aid businesses [by] matching their own elasticity needs facing events like the current the global pandemic, a financial crisis or natural disasters – [they have] an increasingly global impact, and businesses in particular face the greatest challenge,” according to Bell.

He continues, “Businesses need to be able to adapt to their environmental, market and business demands whether that is shifting from office working to remote working, operating at scale or being able to reduce capacity and scale only when demand validates it, or shaping the network from supporting applications to supporting large scale video for conferences.

“Some of this is possible today but bringing this to life across fixed and mobile networks with no human intervention and teams focusing on the strategic planning and preventative fixing will represent a big change in the future.”


Finding your feet at the edge

Everyone agrees that the edge will play a big part in meeting customers’ demands, supporting entirely new services, based on its low latency, and high capacity, at speed, close to where it is required. Exactly how 5G and the edge will play out is less clear, from the use cases that are most likely to succeed to the role of telcos, among other things.

Zaif Siddiqi, Global Head of 5G, IoT Enterprise Business at NTT DOCOMO

Zaif Siddiqi, Global Head of 5G, IoT Enterprise Business at NTT DOCOMO says operators are well placed and “can leverage [network and services] to their advantage and choose to collaborate with ecosystem partners including hyperscalers. CSPs should ramp up their capabilities with highly skilled talent at the edge so they can advise clients how to optimise the infrastructure and develop new business models with lower costs. This will bring in new revenue streams and open more doors for the CSPs to further capitalise on the infrastructure and the solutions they provide”.

Siddiqi also thinks operators need to adapt a dynamic, distributed cloud-based model to deliver much better user experience because the model means “data can literally be anywhere whether on premise, public cloud or edge. From a user standpoint, it may not matter what the mix is as long as user experience is not downgraded nor security compromised. [It] also allows easier management of the clusters [so] you pretty much end up with a true ‘open cloud’ that executes services at any point and operates with full customisation,” he says.

Where does an operator start to build intelligent operations to support 5G and the edge? “A solid foundation is key. Intelligent operations require the right tools and culture, from efficiently extracting and understanding network data to taking intelligent action,” says Miro Salem, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Networks at Rakuten Mobile.

He adds, “Without a stable ecosystem of tools (for example, a data platform, AI platform, use case backlogs and so on) and full synchronisation across the organisation (including the RAN, core, cloud, security, DevOps etcetera), intelligent operations will be siloed, duplicated and inefficient. They require alignment and buy-in from all stakeholders. Only with this clarity can true intelligent operation across various layers and elements of the production network flourish.”

Multi-cloud strategies

Miro Salem, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Networks, Rakuten Mobile

Salem is in favour of CSPs having a multi-cloud strategy for delivering immersive, multi-access edge (MEC) computing services and use cases, and also when considering inter-operator edge clouds. As 5G, “has much lower latency requirement all the way to the physical layer – [it] has a much shorter transmission time interval (TTI) than 4G,” he explains. “This means processing and round-trip delay must be carefully considered, especially for mmWave use cases.

“Pixel streaming gaming…demonstrates the need for edge computing services. More and more applications will need to use edge for low latency, such as virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR).”

M1’s Bell says for high-bandwidth applications, “It’s all about lowering my spend as a consumer, but with the option to leverage higher value services, such as lower latency, when I need it for gaming, VR or other future-defined services.

“Some of these aspects are already available but it will be about immediacy: ‘I want to consume something now and I don’t want to wait because I might not want it later; I might want something else’. This is similar to how we consume new apps or content: if we can’t use it when we want to, we are likely to delete it or forget about it all together.”

Kim Krogh Andersen, Group Executive – Product & Technology, Telstra, says, “Mobile broadband for low latency streaming is already here, and [Telstra has] AR and VR for enhanced sports and entertainment experiences – for instance, Telstra’s AR AFL app – is now hitting the market.

“AR and VR will also be a significant benefit to the training, manufacturing and maintenance industries, especially when combined with digital twin technologies that we are developing. For emergency and protective services, we will see dedicated private 5G network slices with enhanced audio, video and data capabilities.”

Step towards slicing

Kim Krogh Andersen, Group Executive – Product & Technology, Telstra

Telstra has taken a step in this direction, releasing its Network Optimised Products which enable some customers to dynamically switch on certain enhancements as required for some use cases, such as increasing speed or lowering latency. He adds, “With the advent of Standalone 5G, we look forward to being able to spin up slices for customers dynamically, providing personalised feature enhancements on the go.”

Krogh Andersen says, “APIs will also be a way [we can] innovate and monetise at the pace of technology, tapping ecosystems as a platform and with pure digital programmable engagement with hyperscalers, enterprises and developers.”

Airtel’s Sekhon adds, “Service providers need to build converged network which can be orchestrated through software APIs. Virtualization of network would be key to configure the network as per customer’s requirement and applications based on time of the day and their geographical locations. With IoT devices increasingly interacting with the network, network security would be very critical to ensure secure and uninterrupted services to the consumers.”




FutureNet Asia delegates to access complimentary telecoms training from Wray Castle

We are delighted to announce a partnership that will see the delegates at FutureNet Asia in October gain free access to a Wray Castle virtual telecoms training course focusing on 5G SBA (Service based architecture), which is an important theme at the event.

5G SBA Virtualizing the Core:  13th October @ 4pm-5.30pm (SGT, UTC+8)

The Service Based Architecture (SBA), standardised as part of 5G, represents a paradigm shift in the way the telecoms core network is planned, deployed, and operated. Using virtualisation principles, the SBA provides a more flexible, efficient, and capable set of features – provided by the different Network Functions in the form of NF “Services”. SBA techniques can also be applied to 4G, and if adopted early, would enable a smooth transition to the 5G Core.

This talk examines the principles of the SBA, before looking in more detail at the architecture, network functions, protocols, and operation. We also explore the wider contexts of roaming, 4G interworking, and security in order to build a relatively comprehensive picture of how the SBA is set to impact the core of our networks.

This course will be delivered as a live webinar.

“We are delighted to collaborate with Wray Castle,” said Giles Cummings, Founder & CEO of FutureNet World. “The chance for FutureNet Asia delegates to undertake best-in-class training before the event represents a great opportunity for them, both to prepare for discussions at the event around these themes and the wider topic of Network Automation and AI, but also to have the chance to experience that fantastic Wray Castle Trainers and content.”

Paul Mason, Training Operation Director, Wray Castle said “Partnering with FutureNet is a great way to help their Asia Pacific CSP audience get up to speed on the latest technologies and trends in the telecoms and wider ecosystem. Along with our team of expert trainers, I am looking forward to helping event attendees learn and understand more about these core themes in the event”

About Wray Castle

Wray Castle launched in 1958 as a training provider for the radio and maritime communications industries. We operate internationally across a wide range of industries — everything from mobile and fixed network operators to telecoms regulators, the defence sector, energy suppliers, transport, emergency services and government agencies. Our learning programmes are designed to upskill staff, support cutting-edge service rollouts, and deliver powerful insights into the technologies.

Our expertise covers a range of network technologies including 5G, LTE, IP, Radio Engineering, Network Virtualisation and PMR . Programmes cover important technology components and actionable solutions for the whole value chain, from use cases and market drivers to network deployment and optimisation. www.wraycastle.com

About FutureNet Asia

A brand new event from the FutureNet team, bringing the Asia Pacific telecoms industry together to discuss strategic and commercial priorities in today’s digital world and the considerations for the future of the network. Through market-leading events, webinars, and insights FutureNet Asia drives the agenda around Network Automation and AI for Asia Pacific’s Telecom operators, a key foundational pillar for the next wave of growth.

FutureNet Asia’s Virtual 2021 conference takes place on the 27th of October from midday (SGT, UTC+8). To apply for the free training, register for FutureNet Asia 

AsiaPac Telco Advisory Board unveiled to support event agenda focused on Network Automation & AI

Thought leaders and visionaries from across the APAC telco ecosystem have agreed to join a highly engaged advisory board to guide conference content at FutureNet Asia

The inaugural virtual event, taking place on the 27th October, aims to attract a pan-regional CSP audience from Singapore, Australia, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and other AsiaPac nations, with the theme: Network Automation & AI, defining the roadmap for the Asia Pacific Telco of the future.

The importance of this topic was highlighted by Randeep Singh Sekhon, Airtel’s CTO in April at FutureNet World ‘to manage customer experience we have taken automation as the route‘. Rahul Atri, Managing Director, Rakuten Mobile Singapore (Advisory board member) went further by saying that ‘Automation for us has been a necessity and part of the culture from the start‘ when interviewed by FutureNet World earlier this year. With the aim to address the challenges faced by Telcos in automating their networks of the future the conference agenda, crafted with the support of the advisory board, is segmented into four sub-themes:

View the conference agenda
  1. Future Networks: The Vision & Strategy
  2. 5G & Edge: Unlocking Value
  3. Zero Touch Automation & New Operating Models
  4. Dynamic Orchestration and Intelligent Assurance

To provide a cohesive online experience the event incorporates three formats: CXO panels where leading telcos will compare and contrast their approaches to network automation & AI, Telco Case studies that share learnings from successful deployments, and Invite-only Roundtables facilitating content-led networking around a key industry challenge.

Advisory board members

Kim Krogh Andersen, Product & Technology – Group Executive, Telstra
Rahul Atri, Managing Director, Rakuten Mobile Singapore
Sandeep Gupta, EVP Network Strategy & Architecture, Airtel
Jake Saunders, Managing Director and Vice President, Asia-Pacific & Advisory Services, ABI Research
Arvin Siena, VP and Head of Technology Strategy and Transformation Office, PLDT and Smart
Kunal Punn, Head of Corporate Strategy, DTAC
Kailem Anderson, Vice President, Portfolio and Engineering, Blue Planet, a division of Ciena
Pradeep De Almeida, Group Chief Technology Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC Group
Want to be part of the event? Contact the FutureNet Asia team to discuss speaking, sponsorship, and partnership opportunities.

Hear from the Winners

FutureNet World announced the world-beating winners of its prestigious industry awards during its eponymous, award-winning event on 20 and 21 April.

Cayetano Carbajo Martín, Director of Core and Transport, Telefónica CTIO

The Operator Award for the best example of a successful automation deployment went to Telefonica and Blue Planet, a division of Ciena. Telefónica set up the iFUSION project up to accelerate the transformation of its transport network.

It is an agile, programmable transport network that supports rising traffic levels at less cost and is ready for 5G and use cases like network slicing.

iFUSION uses open standard interfaces including the Open Network Foundation’s (ONF’s) Transport API (T-API) within the optical network and IETF-based APIs in the IP/MPLS network. It allows Telefónica to deliver differentiated, on-demand connectivity services to customers that offer a “cloud-like” experience to end users.

After the initial project’s success, Telefónica will roll out iFUSION to its opcos, and greatly widen its scope, as Cayetano Carbajo Martín, Director of Core and Transport, Telefónica CTIO, explains.

He says, “Maintaining diversity in our network and avoiding dependency on one vendor required that we implement the iFUSION transport SDN architecture based on standard interfaces enabling both open network programmability and device configuration.

Rick Hamilton, Senior Vice President, Blue Planet

“Telefonica and five other top operators (Telia, Vodafone, MTN, Orange and Deutsche Telekom) are defining a common and vendor-agnostic transport SDN architecture within TIP/MUST group. In Germany, we have rolled out Blue Planet’s software to automate Telefónica’s network and enable partial optical disaggregation with full automation capabilities in a multivendor network.”

Telefónica selected Blue Planet’s Multi-Domain Service Orchestration as the hierarchical SDTN controller to manage the multi-vendor optical network in Germany. This helped Telefónica lower its OpEx while optimising its network to offer services including 5G. It also reduced the number of northbound interfaces (NBIs) by more than 70% through using T-API as a single NBI.

Rick Hamilton, Senior Vice President, Blue Planet, commented, “Telefónica is taking strategic strides to support its users’ demands for 5G, cloud services, artificial intelligence and more. Utilising Blue Planet’s software is an important first step for Telefónica to create, deploy and automate end-to-end service delivery across its network and meet its consumer’s needs.

“Industry validation from FutureNet World reinforces our goal of enabling more open, automated networks so end users can have stellar customer experiences.”


The Automation Solution Award for the leading solution for network automation/autonomous networks was won by Robin.io. Partha Seetala is Founder and CEO at Robin.io, which is based in Silicon Valley, and a serial entrepreneur. Six years ago, “One thing became very clear, that the underlying infrastructure should become invisible to applications: it should not matter whether you’re running application on premises or in the cloud,” he explains.

The Robin Automation Platform is designed to hide the complexity while understanding what the applications need, which means they can be deployed very quickly. Seetala said, “the whole cloud native momentum…gave us the tailwind to accelerate our journey.”

The platform focuses on three areas: helping operators monetize 5G as a business services platform; improving operators’ engagement with customers through data-driven experiences; and increasing operational efficiencies across core telecom systems.

Robin helps customers solve critical Day 0 and Day 2 challenges of Stateful, 5G and edge apps on Kubernetes. The Robin Automation Platform includes an application-aware automation fabric with built-in, application-aware, high-performance storage, ultra-high-speed networking and data management features to support new applications for wireless providers, IoT, and hyperscale application providers.

Partha Seetala, Founder and CEO, Robin.io

Kubernetes enables stateless, containerised apps to move between clouds. As each cloud has its own method of automation, deployment, and monitoring for stateful apps, migrating the apps is difficult.

Robin provides a unified platform that delivers a consistent operation across physical network functions (PNF), virtualized network functions (VNF), and containerized native functions (CNF).

It also lowers the total cost of ownership of 5G networks through automation and orchestration, and these capabilities lower OpEx for the RAN and core too.

Robin.io claims it can reduce CapEx by 50% by enabling Open RAN (O-RAN) and core networks to run on commercial hardware, plus it can speed time to market by 80%, activating sites in minutes rather than days per site.

Seetala comments about winning the award, “I think it’s a great validation of the work that we have put into building the platform. And there’s a lot of IP that we have built over the last six years, we have about 31 patents in this area – you can imagine turning in patents in key areas like networking, storage, automation are all very important.

“The fact is we were in a very competitive category here of automation, and beating out the likes of Huawei and others is certainly something we are very proud of, and I’m thrilled about.”


The Award for the most Innovative application of AI and intelligent automation (IA) to enhance customer experience (CX) was won by Guavus (a Thales company). Guavus-IQ provides a multi-perspective analytics and XAI experience for CSPs: it correlates outside-in insights on each customer’s experience and inside-out insights on how their network operations are impacting each customer.

Anis Chemli ,VP of Marketing and Sales, Guavus

Providing this perspective from both sides helps CSPs identify subscribers’ behavioural patterns and better understand their operational environments. This is critically important yet extremely hard to achieve, and will become more so due to the greater complexity and scale of 5G networks.

The analytics insights it generates enable CSPs to increase revenue opportunities through data monetization and improved CX, and reduce costs through automated, closed-loop actions.

Anis Chemli ,VP of Marketing and Sales at Guavus says, “Our solution is vendor agnostic so we provide whatever the data is there in terms of outcome, problems or in anticipation problems”. He adds that the solution also needs to be “very operator friendly” rather than requiring data scientists to interpret and act on it, which takes the cost and complexity of handling big data out of the equation for operators.

Guavus-IQ uses advanced big data collection, in-memory stream processing edge and AI-based analytics to ingest, correlate, analyse data in real time. CSPs are using it for root cause analysis, to analyse subscribers’ behaviour and new vertical industry services, plus IoT services among other use cases.

It needs 50% of the compute/processing-related hardware required by traditional analytics solutions, meaning data collection from more than 200 data sources is half the cost, potentially saving operators millions of dollars in CapEx and OpEx.

The reductive storage capability enables the solution to ingest and analyse data, auto-summarise and prune historical event and alarm data from its platform repository, and leave only the most relevant data for analysis.

The data pipeline of previously ingested data can be automatically re-instantiated for use in network and service operations – operators don’t need to become big data experts to leverage the value of the data they’ve collected. Guavus-IQ’s proven data science methods to do the heavy lifting.

Chemli concludes, “For us, this award is further recognition of our innovative solution that has been gaining traction worldwide…We’re very excited to have received this recognition from FutureNet World and believe your industry experts have confirmed the value and innovation capabilities we provide.”


The Orchestration Award for the most innovative automated service orchestration solution was won by Nokia. This was something of a coup, as Nokia won this award for its recently launched Digital Operations Center at FutureNet World 2020, which is the platform that enables automated network slicing for 4G and 5G.

As Bill Stanley, Marketing, Nokia, notes, “It’s very gratifying to win for the launch project last year and to win this year for the product in action”.

He explains that Nokia saw a big opportunity to launch network slicing ahead of it becoming available through 5G Standalone networks, which for many operators are still some way off.

Bill Stanley, Marketing, Nokia

So Nokia turned its attention to enabling automated slices on 4G/5G NSA as 4G-only networks, through the management stack that sits on top of the ‘plumbing’ in the network.

In February 2020, Nokia launched an upgrade to its radio controllers then in October, it profiled the RAN, transport and core controllers that support the underlying connectivity, all the way to the applications on public and private cloud networks.

The Nokia Digital Operations Center complements and leverages those networking capabilities and enables them to run their businesses differently. This is because it simplifies how they manage the round trip for the slice and digital service lifecycle in multi-vendor, multi-domain and multi-technology environments.

The Digital Operations Center provides the orchestration layer between network controllers and commercial services, connecting the network to the business and automatically and dynamically translating business intent into the required configurations and settings. This streamlines slice design, deployment, optimization and assurance of Service Level Agreements.

Nokia has proven the technology in its own labs, customers’ test labs an in real-life deployments. For instance, A1 Austria trialled the network slicing with key enterprise customers such as train operator ÖBB and Vienna International Airport. Slices have, in effect, given them private networks that meet their specifications without them having to build and maintain their own infrastructure.

The Saudi Arabian CSP Mobily is also trialling slices for its fixed-wireless access initiative.

Clearly 5G SA networks will open-up even more slicing opportunities, but in the meantime, Stanley observes that those CSPs who are trialling Nokia’s slicing capabilities now are ramping up experience and knowledge about the applications customers might want to use slicing for, rather than tackling business issues on top of mastering a new technology when 5G SA is available.