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Orange puts automation at the heart of telecoms’ future fortunes

Automation has been absolutely everywhere in the welter of announcements made at and around MWC writes Contributing Editor Annie Turner

ORANGE NEW CEO, Christel Heydemann, 2022/01/28, © Nicolas Gouhier

At Orange Capital Markets Day, the week before Mobile World Congress 2023 (MWC), Christel Heydemann, CEO of Orange Group, laid out her strategy after 10 months in the job. She observed that operators cannot make a sufficiently good return on investment without diversification or selling off assets, although telecoms are viewed as being of critical strategic importance.

She is hopeful a change in regulation will result from the ongoing consultation by the European Union on so-called fair-share and consolidation, but said she saw the industry’s salvation in telcos’ next-generation network, assets and expertise, stressing the importance of execution.

Managing value

Heydemann called on Michaël Trabbia, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Orange, was called upon to elaborate. He said, “Our goal as operator is to become the reference in networks agility, resilience and performance. This ambition includes software transformation, automation and AI.”

He continued, “We will measure our progress in this transformation based on the standards set by TM Forum for the level of automation in network operations. Our ambition is to move from level one or two currently, depending on the country, to level four by 2025, specifically on two key processes, the test integration deployment process, and the network monitoring and fault management process.

“To further increase network automation, we are implementing group-wide network integration factories and shared operation centres that will allow new, on-demand network services operating in Network-as-a-Service mode, thus creating new business opportunities.”

Open RAN rural sharing

During MWC, Orange had another infrastructure announcement: it has an agreement with Vodafone to build out and share Open RAN in rural parts of Europe where both have mobile networks. The first commercial sites will be deployed outside Bucharest, Romania’s capital.

Trabbia described this as “a significant milestone on the road to wide-scale open RAN adoption across Europe,” adding, “It is a major step towards agile and fully-automated networks, unleashing the potential of virtualization and AI to boost performance while driving both infrastructure and operational costs down.

“In particular, Open RAN is a great opportunity to take network sharing to a whole new dimension, with even higher operator differentiation thanks to the ability for each of the partners to tune its network more independently according to its promises towards its own customers.”

Testing of the Open RAN solution on a live network will continue throughout 2023, allowing a like-for-like comparison with legacy networks and will aim at confirming the feature and performance parity between Open RAN and traditional RAN solutions, before expanding the Open RAN sharing blueprint to other markets.

Pikeo pushes automation

Orange also disclosed findings from its Pikeo experimental network which was launched in June 2021 help the operator better understand how best to deploy cloud-oriented, open API-based, automated, disaggregated, multi-vendor 5G Standalone network. Orange said the work on Pikeo had helped it reach a “major milestone on its journey towards software and data-based, fully-automated networks.” The models developed enable Orange to run private 5G in a multi-cloud network, whether that’s on-prem Orange Telco Cloud infrastructure or using SUSE/Rancher Kubernetes distribution.

Going global with network inventory

Francis Haysom, Principal Analyst, Appledore Research

AT&T and ServiceNow announced a global telco solution during MWC, continuing the trend of operators productising their expertise and assets to sell to other operators, like Rakuten and SK Telekom, among others. The operator provided “strategic design and technical guidance” for the development of ServiceNow Telecom Network inventory, built on ServiceNow’s platform.

Hence the solution provides “a single platform that connects systems to maximize network investments, manage orders, improve customer service experiences, and enable business agility”. AT&T plans to deploy the platform soon.

Francis Haysom, Principal Analyst, Appledore Research, commented, “With Telecommunications Network Inventory, operators have an opportunity to better support end-to-end network automation and increasingly dynamic and valuable network services.”

AWS builds on telco credentials

AWS made several telco-friendly announcements ahead of MWC including Telco Network Builder intended to make deploying telcos’ functions on cloud more efficient by using common terminology and languages, including several ETSI specifications. There are no upfront commitments or fees the Builder, and customers pay only for the AWS services used to manage their network. Amdocs, Cloudify, Infosys, Mavenir and O2 Telefónica are all investigating the Builder’s possibilities.

Bas Hendrikx, Head of Cloud Centre of Excellence at O2 Telefónica said, “We are exploring AWS Telco Network Builder to enable us to leverage automation to deliver new 5G network services faster and manage our networks more efficiently”.

Google goes for network automation

Google Cloud announced its Telecom Network Automation at MWC, designed to accelerate network and edge deployments. It does this using cloud-native automation based on Kubernetes and the work done by Nephio, the open-source project that Google Cloud founded in partnership with the Linux Foundation in 2022. The hyperscaler also launched Telecom Data Fabric for migrating operators’ workloads to the cloud faster and more efficiently, plus the Telecom Subscriber Insights analytics platform.

Colt ups ante with Equinix

Colt Technology Services and Equinix have extended their partnership: businesses in Spain, Italy and Sweden now have access to Colt’s On Demand infrastructure interconnecting with Equinix Fabric. Mark Hollman, Vice President for Partner Development and Success at Colt said, “In this latest evolution of our longstanding partnership with Equinix, we’ve invested in joint API development to deliver a simplified, automated and improved customer experience across Colt On Demand and Equinix Fabric platforms.

Microsoft reportedly invests $10 bn in ChatGPT, DT hits €100bn market cap

AI and automation seem to be entering a new era, generating headlines the world over as 2023 began, writes Contributing Editor Annie Turner

OpenAI’s ChatGPT (short for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) automation tool has taken the world by storm since its launch in November. Microsoft has invested an undisclosed sum in the firm which is widely rumoured to be $10 billion. The AI-powered chatbot is able to hold human-like conversations with actual humans about, it seems, almost anything.

The investment extends the relationship between the two companies. Microsoft Azure will continue as OpenAI’s exclusive cloud provider for ChatGPT as OpenAI uses Azure to train all its models. Further, Microsoft will deploy OpenAI’s models across all its consumer and enterprise products and introduce “new categories of digital experience” built on the tech.

They will include Azure OpenAI Services for developers to build applications through direct access to those models, “backed by Azure’s trusted, enterprise-grade capabilities and AI-optimized infrastructure and tools”.

ChatGPT is not alone

ChatGPT being used for search has allegedly so concerned Google, for so long the trailblazer in AI, that it has reportedly has issued a “code red” button which includes recalling founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to help it steer through these dangerous waters. This is a little surprising given it has its own ChatGPT-like system – LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications). One engineer was fired for publicly saying it was so compelling he thought it might be sentient. Apparently Google’s not quite ready yet, maybe because it has regulators breathing down its neck on several fronts.

Meanwhile speculation mounts that there is a new AI chatbot in town, from Baidu, the Chinese search giant.

What does it mean for telecoms?

The rise of a new generation of AI-chatbots will generate a lot more messaging traffic that will be carried on telcos’ networks, as text messages are made audible and the communication becomes conversational. There are also big implications for customer service if finally chatbots can take automated customer service to a whole different level, including personalisation.

This has rather suddenly become a possibility just as telcos are starting to roll out 5G Standalone in earnest which will eventually allow customers to set up their own slices to match granular parameters. Avoiding a clunky user interface would be a massive win.

Then of course what’s good for external use with customers could be applied internally too, as the democratisation of integration progresses.

DT’s rise helped by cloud

Deutsche Telekom group started 2023 with a bang, announcing its market capitalisation had exceeded €100 billion on 11 January – in line with CEO Timotheus Höttges expectations. The share price passed the €20 threshold for the first time since 2001, making DT the sixth largest telecom company in the world based on equity value.

While there is no denying that DT’s fortunes have improved dramatically in the wake of its US’ subsidiary’s merger with rival Sprint in 2020, the operator was keen to stress this was not the only reason for its success. On the same day its German opco Telekom Deutschland announced it had completed the migration of 10 million voice subscribers to its cloud platform, which handles billions of minutes and interoperates with about 100 interconnect partners.

This is a major milestone in its Next-generation IP Multimedia Subsystem (NIMS) strategy. Caroline Chappell, Research Director, Cloud & Platform Services at Analysys Mason was quoted saying, “The level of automation in the NIMS architecture is exceptionally high and forward-looking. Deutsche Telekom has set a new standard for the industry with its bold, vendor-agnostic approach.”

Its partners for NIMS include Juniper Networks for cloud infrastructure and as the prime integrator, plus Mavenir, Metaswitch (part of Microsoft), Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lenovo and Red Hat. Telekom Deutschland added, “Due to the high level of disaggregation and the horizontal cloud approach, more technology partners can easily be added as the demand for services grows”.

Killer combo: SD-WAN, analytics and automation

Organisations need to augment SD-WAN with analytics and automation to derive maximum benefits according to Brandon Butler, Research Manager at IDC’s Enterprise Networks practice. He was speaking at a webinar sponsored by Cisco. Butler is a proponent of melding security and networking control, noting that all the core SD-WAN vendors support some analytics and automation components that assist with this, including Cisco, Juniper Networks, Extreme Networks and Palo Alto Networks.

As SD-WAN relies on interoperability with cloud, “It is necessary for network analytics solutions to heighten visibility into and control over cloud services, resources, connections, and application performance,” IDC wrote in a recent report Analytics and Automation: Driving SD-WAN Success at the Network Edge.

IDC found that enterprises link observability with automation from its 2022 worldwide survey: more than 75% of respondents said they use or plan to use observability intelligence and insights to support automation efforts.

Predicting and preventing failures

The UK’s National Grid chose EXFO’s Intellisense Systems weather tracking and remote fibre testing, monitoring and AI analytics for a pilot to predict and prevent operational failures. The Grid carries a telecoms network across its electricity transmission infrastructure that is essential to provide secure, critical, operational information. EXFO’s tech will help assess the condition of the fibre infrastructure, and predict its lifespan and potential vulnerabilites that could cause outages.

EXFO will measure, analyse, and report results from an 80 km span of the National Grid network, in an area that routinely has challenging weather, over a 12-month period. Deployment of test equipment and Intellisense devices started in October 2022.

Separately, EXFO’s diagnostic capabilities have been added to Telescent’s Gen 4 Network Topology Manager (G4 NTM).  Telescent’s robotic patch panel system helps to automate fibre management, while EXFO’s remote fibre testing system provides visibility of reconfigured optical circuits, thereby closing the automation loop and making diagnostics and proactive management easier.

Thinking networks


In Sophia Antipolis, an area in the south of France known for considerably better weather, ETSI group on Experiential Networked Intelligence (ISG ENI) published a White Paper describing the design of a novel cognitive network. It explains how the novel system architecture (based on ETSI GS ENI-005) intelligently manages, predicts, adjusts and optimises network behaviour using cognition management to improve the operators’ experience.

Ray Forbes, Chair of the ETSI ISG ENI, noted, “The ETSI ENI system is a set of hierarchical closed control loops based on extensions to the Observe-Orient-Decide-Act model. These extensions enable the ENI Cognitive Architecture to adapt its behaviour according to changes in user needs, business goals, and environmental conditions. As an example, the ENI system could reconfigure a set of 5G slices to meet changing service needs.”

Microsoft ups the Open RAN ante, SA and private 5G to rise in 2023

 As a tumultuous 2022 ends, network automation and intelligent operations went out with a bang in December. Contributing Editor Annie Turner rounds up the highlights.

Microsoft is developing analytics and control technologies to support vRAN kit from third-party vendors running on Microsoft’s edge platforms. According to a blog by Yousef Khalidi, Corporate VP of Azure for Operators at Microsoft, it plans to extend the RIC architecture specified by the O-RAN Alliance.

Extending architecture

That architecture exposes telemetry and control interfaces with predefined service models (known as the E2 interface) for Open RAN vendors to implement in support of near-real-time xApp applications which help operators monitor Open RANs.

Caption: Microsoft’s proposed overall framework with the dynamic service model denoted by the letter D within the star circle.

Source: Microsoft blog, December 2022

Microsoft plans to extend the E2 interface so that it can dynamically extract detailed internal data and real-time telemetric data from live RAN software without interfering with RAN operations. Khalidi claims, “This technology…with detailed platform telemetry, [means] operators can achieve better network monitoring and performance optimization for their 5G networks, and enable new AI, analytics, and automation capabilities that were not possible before.”

Speeding up 5G monetisation

IBM, Casa Systems, and Enea are collaborating on a private 5G platform designed to help operators make more money from 5G deployments through rapid entry into new markets. IBM is contributing its Cloud Pak for Network Automation platform: Cisco’s Crosswork service was added to Pak last October to automate and abstract the complex process of virtualising the RAN and network core. Operators can orchestrate the management of virtual 5G networks, and optical and IP infrastructure using one cloud framework.

Casa Systems is providing its 5G core that runs on its Axyom Software Framework to enable private 5G coverage and capacity, while Enea brings its end-to-end encrypted comms and managements of subscribers’ data.

IBM and Casa are also to build an Open RAN platform for private 5G use cases, including work on the RIC to support Open RAN interoperability and network automation across different hardware and software components.

T-Mobile selects Cisco to flex 5G SA

T-Mobile US has again chosen Cisco to a launch a cloud-native 5G core gateway to improve the flexibility of its 5G Standalone (SA) core for 5G and 4G traffic. They says it is the world’s largest cloud-native, converged core gateway. The two have a long-standing relationship: T-Mobile’s 5G SA core is based on Cisco’s cloud-native control plane, which uses Kubernetes to orchestrate containers running on bare metal which is said to reduce central processing unit usage by 20%.

The US operator has deployed Cisco’s 8000 Series routers, 5G and 4G LTE packet core gateways, Unified Computing System (UCS) platform and Nexus 9000 Series Switches. The latter run the vendor’s Network Services Orchestrator for full-stack automation. T-Mobile US said automation simplifies “network functions across the cloud, edge and data centers to

significantly reduce operational lifecycle management.”

Rel-17 adds to automation arsenal

(Rel-17) has additions for intelligent automated networks – features for enhanced self-organising networks (SON) and minimisation of drive tests (MDT). Future intelligent, automated networks will need unprecedented analytical capabilities, an extensive knowledge base of previous performance and continuous access to real-time data from every part of the network. The new features make it easier to gather and use data from users’ equipment and other network nodes to serve as the eyes and ears of the network. Read more about the background to this work and its import here.

Can test software fly high?

Nokia has teamed up with Rohde & Schwarz, the testing and measurement specialist, to explore the possibility of adding software-based, network measurement tools to its drone platform. Nokia already uses drones to measure networks’ performance, by attaching a smartphone loaded with Rhode & Schwarz’s QualiPoc 4.9G/LTE and 5G network measurement capabilities to the drone.

If the application could be embedded in the software, it would reduce the weight of the drone, enabling longer flight times and lower power consumption. Thomas Eder, Head of Embedded Wireless Solutions at Nokia, said, “By consuming Rohde & Schwarz QualiPoc and SmartMonitor in this way, customers can increase the value of their existing Nokia Drone Network deployments and leverage a high level of automation to gain real-time data for tasks such as network performance assessments.”

Overall optimism spills into 2023

Almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents to the Telecoms.com Annual Industry Report said they thought 2022 was an excellent or good year. Operators think 5G SA will drive greater adoption of 5G in 2023, but think security, digital transformation, IoT and broadband will be the four main areas of telecoms that business will focus on this year. Despite the overall optimism, respondents identified legacy infrastructure and siloed operations across technologies are obstacles to broadband network and service automation.

Broadband network automation Downunder

On which subject, NBN Co, the operator responsible for Australia’s National Broadband Network (nbn), announced it is to deploy Nokia’s new Lightspan MF-14 optical line terminal (OLT). The decision coincided with the Australian government pledging an additional AUD$2.4 billion (US$1.62 billion, €1.53 billion) to deploy more fiber in the NBN.

The upgrade programme, which starts this year, will focus on extending fibre to the node (FTTN) architectures to FTTP, which will benefit more than 1.5 million homes and businesses. The Lightspan MF-14 will also ready the network to support 25Gbps passive optical network capabilities, which over time could be upgraded with 50G PON and beyond, the parties say.

The Lightspan MF-14 will be deployed in tandem with Nokia’s Altiplano Access Controller which will deliver greater software-defined (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) capabilities to improve network automation.

ETSI says network automation can improve telcos’ finances

Annie Turner, Contributing Editor, rounds up news from October and reports that while network automation market is growing fast, commercial network slices are still some way off.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) highlighted the urgency of network automation to improve telcos’ finances at its latest plenary meeting. This was held in person at ETSI’s headquarters in Sophia Antipolis, France, in late November, with online participation.

Nurit Sprecher, Vice-chair of ETSI’s Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM) group, acknowledged the road to network automation is long and challenging, adding, “We are expected to deliver and support diverse use cases with 5G, 5G-Advanced and later with 6G, with an extremely demanding range of requirements in terms of latency, throughput, reliability, coverage [and] security” and with networks that can be being dynamically configured, adapted and scaled.

The ZSM group Chair, Diego Lopez, a senior technology expert at Telefónica, stated, “being a business in which you’re not making money doesn’t make any sense,” whereas telcos will be “in the position of providing a wider and better portfolio of services, without increasing these costs” while following “the trend towards personalised services,” with greater network automation.

Network automation market growing fast

Network automation is not only expected to generate money for operators, but for vendors and others too: Coherent Market Insights has just published a report, Global Network Automation Market from 2022 to 2030. It reckons the market was valued at was valued at $14.56 billion in 2021 and predicts it will $94.58 billion by 2030 at a compound annual rate of growth of 23.4% between to 2030. It examines the variables that are affecting the market as well as which vendors are best at riding the wave.

Heavy Reading survey on network slicing

The analyst house is reporting findings from the Heavy Reading 5G Network Slicing Operator Survey by Senior Principal Analyst, Gabriel Brown. It reveals that operating complexity and cost are the key business challenges operators face as they look to commercialise slicing.

The survey asked what operators see as the critical operational challenges in network slicing. The graph shows responses split evenly between the top two, indicating early-stage technology. Assuring and reporting SLAs  at 8% suggests a technology still in development. Brown says he expects SLAs to rise up the list as commercial deployments gather pace.

Operational challenges for network slicing

Source: Heavy Reading

How responses split down fault lines of job functions is revealing. Of those in R&D roles (16 respondents), 67% identify “cross-domain coordination, design and solutioning” as the most challenging whereas among the 26 roles in network engineering and operations, the “need to transform network operations” comes top with 50%. The top pick for the 16 respondents in management roles, “organizational and people readiness” is the biggest challenge with 50%. As Brown observes, this reflects the well-known trend of everyone thinking the challenges they face are the hardest.

Drei Austria moves towards full automation

Hutchison Drei Austria is deploying Elisa Polystar’s Automation Engine and ready-made use cases from the supplier to enable automated RAN operations. The solution supports closed loop operations for “key workflows” according to Elisa Polystar and Drei’s own automation development with a software development for new use cases.

Elisa Polystar’s use cases are highly targeted, such as for detecting sub-optimal network configurations, network roll-out and optimisation for generations of technology from 2G to 5G. Tilo Splitt, Head of Radio Network at Drei Austria, said, “We needed a solution that could span all our networks…Already, we’ve seen an improvement in KPIs”.


Strengthening the RAN in Libya

P.I. Works is to deploy its EXA automated network management across Libya Telecom & Technology’s (LTT) national RAN infrastructure. The intention is to improve the quality of LTT’s network coverage and reduce OpEx and CapEx.

Ahmed Eshakruni, Head of Networks & Service Quality at LTT, said, “We believe implementing such a solution, powered by AI capabilities, will reduce network OpEx considering the geographic area of Libya is vast and the cities and villages are sprawling, the network is continuously growing and more cells and technology layers are added, which will be directly proportional to the increase in complexity.”


New standard

To end where we began, with ETSI, which on 28 November launched a telemetry standard designed to improve automation and deliver better customer experience of optical networks. The standards body claims it provides better monitoring than established methods via automated real-time data collection, providing greater speed and scale.

Telemetry uses the push method to continuously stream data from the optical line terminal (OLT) and data of interest can be chosen from the OLT and transmitted it in a structured format to a data collection platform for monitoring, AI-based analytics and visualization. Telemetry data is more finely granular and frequent in the optical access network and so can help predict network problems and take preventive action without compromising the OLT’s performance, giving operators greater visibility and insights into the network.

ETSI’s Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G) Industry Specification Group, which devised the telemetry standard, is working on 10 other specifications and will soon release F5G PON (Passive Optical Networks) for industrial applications and an F5G security architecture.

Vodafone announces slew of ambitious Open RAN plans with multiple partners

The operator is looking beyond accelerating its own Open RAN goals to those of Europe and the global industry writes Contributing Editor Annie Turner.

October saw a raft of announcements from Vodafone. First, Vodafone and NTT DOCOMO signed an MoU agreeing to cooperate on harmonising mobile operators’ system integration and test processes. This includes testing criteria and experiences to create common test scripts – software instructions to conduct tests – so vendors can avoid duplicating effort arising from every operator doing everything slightly differently. Their work will adhere to the specifications of the 3GPP and the ORAN Alliance and is intended to improve interoperability between vendors’ systems across 4G and 5G Open RAN networks globally.

The two companies also aim to maximize the benefits of the Service Management Orchestrator – part of the Open RAN Network Operation Support System – and the RAN Intelligent Controller platform (SMO/RIC). To these ends, they will identify the key features of SMO/RIC, determine their probable evolution and define the underlying software architecture.

Through their joint efforts, Vodafone and NTT DOCOMO want to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for operators by enhancing the efficiency of RAN technologies, integration processes, AI and machine learning, and automation techniques, with a view to publishing a whitepaper.

Expanding Europe’s ecosystem

The operator said it will partner Nokia to advance the Open RAN ecosystem in Europe. They claim their efforts mark “a significant milestone for the mobile industry and a major boost to Europe’s competitiveness”.

They are to combine Nokia’s ReefShark system on chip (SoC) technology, developed in cooperation with Marvell, with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) servers in a solution based on the ORAN Alliance’s specifications. They say this will put their solution’s performance on a par with traditional mobile radio networks. Nokia’s ReefShark SoC boosts Layer-1 processing which is integral to connecting users to mobile base stations and support high levels of data traffic.


Commercial pilot in Germany

Open RAN should allow for far great levels of automation than have been possible previously: Vodafone has set a target of 30% of its European networks running on Open RAN by 2030 and announced it will launch a commercial Open RAN pilot in Germany after successful field tests earlier this year in Plauen. The pilot will use software and radio equipment from Samsung, and will take place in south-east Bavaria and north-east Lower Saxony, and from there be rolled out across Germany over the next two to three years.

Santiago Tenorio, Director of Network Architecture for Vodafone, noted the pilot “brings timely resilience to the supply chain, allowing us to work with a greater number and more diverse pool of suppliers. Greater competition also encourages innovation, leading to a better mobile experience for our customers.”


Marvell – another starring role

 Vodafone, Samsung Electronics Co. and Marvell are also to collaborate in an effort to accelerate the performance and adoption of 5G Open Radio Access Networks (RAN) across Europe. They will use Marvell’s OCTEON Fusion processor/accelerator which is optimised to carry out the complex calculations normally carried out by central processing units (CPUs) in existing virtualized mobile networks.

When combined with Samsung’s vRAN software, the chip speeds up the data processing for complex radio network functions, “enabling Open RAN to deliver features, security and performance like those of a traditional mobile radio networks”. Further improvements are promised, but the energy efficiency of mobile sites should improve immediately after deployment through needing fewer CPUs.

Boosting Massive MIMO

Accelerators can also deliver Massive MIMO to serve many customers in dense urban areas such as shopping centres, sports arenas and business parks – and Vodafone is hedging its bets, announcing the next stage of its collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies.

The two are to develop, test and integrate 5G distributed and radio units with Massive MIMO capabilities powered by the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and the Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN Platform. The solutions are expected to use less power and reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) for Massive MIMO with 64T64R and 32T32R capabilities.

This joint announcement builds on the companies’ commitment in April 2021 to develop technical blueprints to help equipment suppliers build 5G networks on Open RAN technology.

Cutting the cost of upgrading 4G sites to 5G

And finally, Vodafone is deploying new disaggregated cell site gateway (DCSG) routers to cut the cost of upgrading 4G cell sites to 5G and of bringing new ones online. The routers link mobile sites to the core network. The DCSG routers are based on the same principles as Open Radio Area Network (RAN) equipment. Santiago Tenorio, Director of Vodafone Network Architecture, said, “By opening the door to greater vendor diversity and network automation, we can stay ahead of the curve and bring new mobile sites online more quickly and cheaply.”

Vodafone is using hardware from Edgecore Networks Corporation, a subsidiary of Taiwanese company Accton Technology Corporation, with software from the German networking and software company ADVA, for the roll-out in Turkey. The Vodafone DCSG router is described as “easy to install”, and software changes and capacity upgrades can be made automatically, making it cheaper to extend coverage.

Hard on the heels of that announcement by Vodafone, Orange said it has jointly created the world’s first disaggregated switch with Edgecore Networks that has accessible software. The developers code all the Edgecore switch’s functions using the principles of the SONiC (Software for Open Networking in the Cloud) open source movement.

Orange stated, “This bold move towards disaggregation and community open-source software is part of a major upgrade of Orange’s access network infrastructure”.

Cloud infrastructure market on the up, service assurance gets a makeover

It’s been a busy month for new products and solutions that will power future networks. Contributing editor Annie Turner provides a whistlestop tour.

Analysys Mason estimates that the network cloud infrastructure sector for telecoms will quadruple from $6.9 billion in 2020 to $30.1 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28%. It expects the growth to be mainly driven by operators’ 5G investments in vRAN, the standalone core and network edge. The analyst house splits the market into five main sub-segments: network cloud hardware; virtual infrastructure management (VIM); container-as-a-service (CaaS); virtualisation layer and data centre software-defined network control. It reckons vRAN will be the fastest growing cloud domain in terms of spending (with a CAGR 58%) with investment in this area reaching $12 billion by 2026.

Dell Technologies is introducing a cloud infrastructure solution, engineered with Wind River, to help operators simplify and accelerate cloud-native network deployments. Dell’s telecom partner certification programme should allow technology partners to validate and integrate their products within a “growing open technology ecosystem”. Dell points out that unlike clouds typically used by enterprises, clouds for mobile networks must address distributed geographic areas and strict service level agreements (SLAs) while supporting a range of software, compute and networking technologies that have made these deployments complex and costly.

Cloud Metro for scale and security

Juniper Networks has applied cloud principles to architect, build, and operate metro networks. The firm describes it as “an experience-first network,” which “provides a quality service instead of mere packet transport, with automated and AI-aware operations at the forefront of new approach.” Juniper argues that metro traffic is estimated to grow 500% by 2027, but the cost per bit is not sustainable, and network cannot scale efficiently. Also, security is challenging, as is the shortage of skills, plus ITU standards require greenhouse emissions to be reduced to 45% by 2030. In short, traditional metro isn’t up to it, but Juniper says its Cloud Metro offer is.

Viva Las Vegas!

Rakuten Symphony announces Symops Service Assurance at MWC in Las Vegas. According to the company, it has already been deployed in commercial networks and delivered modern monitoring, network change management and navigation of daily operational tasks in 40% less time than usual. It also claims that configuration errors can be cut by 70% and trouble tickets halved. It points out that these “enablers” are usually sold separately but that fault, performance and configuration management, automation engine, data management and analytics, are all part of the Symworld platform. Further, this consolidation of operational domain data (RAN, core, transport, BSS, and security) and end-to-end data management “leads to transformational outcomes versus traditional approaches”.

Still more from MWC

VMware unveiled several new products and partnerships at MWC Las Vegas, designed to accelerate 5G core, RAN and edge deployments, and lifecycle management. This includes VMware an expanded version of its Telco Cloud Platform Ecosystem so operators can upgrade the control plane and worker node pools separately, and secure their 5G networks with intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) for east-west network traffic. VMware says is also can speed the deployment of network services due to a growing partner ecosystem of more than 275 virtual- and cloud-network functions (VNFs and CNFs) including Mavenir’s Converged Packet Core.

VMware launch its Telco Cloud Service Assurance 2.0, which DISH Wireless will test to monitor its distributed-cloud infrastructure and collect metrics and logs for actionable insights and to facilitate closed-loop automated provisioning and management. The VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN 2.0 is intended to simplifying deployments across distributed RAN sites with “cloud-smart automation”. This release apparently improves performance, operability and scale.

TCS opens two new telecom arms

India’s The Economic Times reports Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has created two new business unit dedicated to telecom and 5G solutions. They are the network solutions and services unit (NSS) to cater for 5G deployment and engineering. The cognitive enterprise network unit (CEN) is to offer intelligent network management solutions. NSS will focus on solutions including: product engineering for wireless services and radio frequency; network roll-out for wireline services; intelligent networks; network virtualisation and automation; 5G services and network planning. TCS is India’s largest IT services company by revenue and is reportedly in the final stages of closing a potential $2 billion 4G network implementation deal with state-run operator BSNL.


HFCL announced the launch of 5G Lab-as-a-Service to accelerate roll-out of 5G solutions and services. From prototyping to end-to-end testing, HFCL’s 5G Lab are intended to enable telecom operators and ecosystem partners to co-create 5G solutions, services and business models and build new 5G use cases. HFCL says the lab is relevant to sectors including manufacturing, transportation, healthcare and retail and that it will provide access to highly skilled teams with expertise in 5G networks and devices including expertise in DevOps, continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD), Kubernetes and cloud-native technologies for testing in 5G environments.


Network slicing Down Under, revitalised BSS/OSS and very different greenhouse effects

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+.

BT private 5G partnership buoys Ericsson, while declarative code gets a grip

Contributing Editor Annie Turner looks at some of the market and technology moves around network automation over recent weeks. 

BT and Ericsson (UK and Ireland) signed multi-million-pound partnership to provide commercial 5G networks. The two claim this is the first commercial 5G private network agreement of its kind in the UK. They also said it would “combine BT’s expertise in building converged fixed and mobile networks with Ericsson’s leading 5G network technology and enterprise solutions”.

Ericsson ended May on something of high, having had a torrid 2022 so far. In January it reported what Bloomberg called “stellar results”, with year-on-year profits up by 41%, but activist investor Cevian Capital, took the opportunity to complain about the Swedish vendor’s low share price, its $6.2 billion Vonage acquisition last November, and a lack of clarity about the enterprise market. Ericsson’s share price and reputation subsequently took a serious battering when allegations of payments to ISIS in Iraq surfaced.

BT’s Paul Murnaghan with Joe O’Neill from Belfast Harbour

Remedial measure

In the face of fierce criticism, in mid-May Ericsson announced it was restructuring to drive growth, which includes setting up a new division for Business Area Enterprise Wireless Solutions, comprising Cradlepoint and Dedicated Networks. George Mulhern is appointed head of the unit and will join the Ericsson executive team. The new structure will be in place from 1 June.

BT and Ericsson have worked together on major projects incorporating private 5G networks, including Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland. They say their contract paves the way for BT to sell 5G products to enterprises in sectors from manufacturing to defence, education, retail, healthcare, transport and logistics.

Getting your ducks in a row

Sinéad Pillion, Head of Operations Ericsson Athlone, with Minister of State Robert Troy and Denis Dullea, Head of R&D Ericsson Athlone

Just before the contract was announcement, BT said it would invest almost £100 million over the next three years in its Division X unit which is supposed to accelerate the development of customer solutions which embed tech including 5G, IoT, edge compute, cloud and AI. Division X is led by Marc Overton.

For its part just ahead of the announcement with BT, Ericsson said it would recruit will hire 250 cloud native software developers, engineers and architects to its Athlone R&D centre in Ireland to work on 5G projects.

Ericsson says its Irish operation has grown 25% over the past five years and that it also intends to attract software developers, data scientists, architects, cloud and mobile communication engineers to the centre over the next three years.

Denis Dullea, Head of R&D at Ericsson Athlone said the moves are “to enhance our capability to deliver the benefits of cloud native technologies to our global customer base via our RAN, Management, Automation and Orchestration offerings.”

DIY declarative code gathers pace

There were some interesting findings in the Nemertes Network Automation Research Study 2022, published in May 2022. It looked at how organisations with a lot of Cisco kit in their infrastructure implement network automation. Turns out that fewer than 20% use its flagship DNA Center network controller and management dashboard to automate provisioning and change management.

By contrast, more than 40% of those surveyed provide their own automation solutions from a combo of imperative scripting or programming (Python in the main), while about half use a model other than imperative or in addition to it – declarative automation.

We explored the importance of declarative coding in our recent interview with Philippe Ensarguet, Group CTO of Orange Business Services. In short, declarative coding (such as HTML) describes the desired outcomes and achieves them using reconciliation loops to fix any deviations from the pre-set desired state.

Most programming is imperative – a series of ‘If this happens, do that and then if X happens do Y’. Accuracy is critical: it is not forgiving if the sequence isn’t correct or the coder includes more or less than is required.

The study found 33% of the organizations interviewed used Red Hat’s Ansible for network automation because of the increased use of DevOps and its infrastructure as code approach. It started out as imperative but then graduated to declarative around five years ago. Gluware is designed for network automation in Cisco-heavy environments.

As M. Ensarguet explained, a declarative approach can support full automation so that as data centres, networks and storage are softwarised, the people working in these areas make all employees affected by this shift “more effective, more productive,” He added. “If you are not able to automate longer or deeper than with the CI/CD [continuous integration/continuous delivery], then you have no lever to manage the scaling – and that’s critical to the whole [automation] thing.”

It looks like that message is increasingly well understood from the Nemertes research, and we’ll leave them with the last word from the study (see ‘Recommendations’ image).


Google moves further into telco, HPE automates the RAN and DISH ponders 5G deadline

The Linux Foundation, the open source community, said it has formed project Nephio in partnership with Google Cloud and telecoms “leaders”.

Nephio’s mission is “to deliver carrier-grade, simple, open, Kubernetes-based cloud native intent automation and common automation templates that materially simplify the deployment and management of multi-vendor cloud infrastructure and network functions across large scale edge deployments.”

Nephio is all about cloud-native network automation. Airtel, Bell Canada, Elisa, Equinix, Jio, Orange, Rakuten Mobile, TIM, TELUS, Vapor IO, Virgin Media O2 and WindTRE are involved from the operator community. The network function, service and infrastructure vendors who are participating are Aarna Networks, Arm, Casa Systems, DZS, Ericsson, F5, Intel, Juniper, Mavenir, Nokia, Parallel Wireless and VMware.

They plan to “enable faster onboarding of network functions to production including provisioning of underlying cloud infrastructure with a true cloud native approach, and [reduce] costs of adoption of cloud and network infrastructure.”

Google Cloud acquires MobiledgeX

After the Nephio announcement, Google Cloud went on to acquire MobiledgeX, which was set up by Deutsche Telekom (DT) back in 2018 to develop the trusted control plane and common orchestration layer for edge computing assets. The technology was deployed by SK Telecom, Telefónica and Singtel as well as DT. After little publicity for a year, due to pandemic lockdowns according to CEO Jason Hoffman, in April last year, MobiledgeX said it supported Google’s telecom-friendly Anthos, announced by Google in December 2020.

No financial information was released about the transaction, but Hoffman is not moving to Google Cloud having left MobiledgeX a week or so before the announcement.

This acquisition and Google Cloud’s involvement Nephio demonstrate how the hyperscaler is striving to appeal to operators in the throes of transforming their networks to cloud native. Caroline Chappell, Research Director, Cloud, at Analysys Mason told telecomTV, “Google is gunning for Red Hat’s position in the network cloud domain while Azure and AWS are taking on VMware with their proprietary stances.”

She pointed out that Google is being more successful at attracting operators “compared with the other big cloud providers,” in multi-domain partnerships, which she said “are five to10 year multi-billion-dollar deals that transform multiple aspects of an operator’s business, for example, across IT, network and enterprise services domains.” Bell Canada, Jio, Ooredoo and Telenor all signed up with Google in the second half of last year, joining the likes of Telecom Italia and XL Axiata.

AT&T’s big contract with Azure seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

HPE strives to speed up RAN deployment

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) wants to accelerate RAN deployments with automation and simpler management for Open RAN and traditional RAN techs. On 21 April, it announced Open RAN Automation, a service management and orchestration solution to provide multi-vendor management and automation for any RAN. The press note said, “This cloud-native solution, delivered as a service, offers zero-touch management…and is a key part of the HPE Open RAN Solution Stack and has been validated and optimized  the HPE ProLiant DL110 Gen10 Plus – Telco server”.

At the press briefing, Tom Craig, VP and GM, HPE Communications Technology Group, “The winners will be those who embrace automation and commit to a disaggregated, open, multi-vendor future.”

The new solution is based on HPE’s OSS and AI and machine learning technologies and orchestrates the lifecycle of both virtual Distributed Units (vDUs) and virtual Centralized Units (vCUs), so operators can dynamically configure radio frequencies and optimise their use of radio access resources and spectrum. At the press briefing, HPE executives stressed that few RAN environments are greenfield, and the most pressing need is to manage multi-technology RANs as efficiently and simply as possible.

DISH in danger of missing 5G deadline?

DISH Network must provide 20% of the US population with 5G coverage by 14 June 2022 with the first 5G Standalone network in the US and 70% by June 2023, in line with the agreements it made with regulators in 2019.

DISH’s 5G deadline looks like it’s going to be a close-run thing. In February, Charlie Ergen, DISH’s chair was reported saying, “We’re six months behind where we thought we’d be. It’s my fault. We just didn’t maybe anticipate that we would have to do as much on the technical side.”

DISH’s open RAN network design means its build out costs should be much lower. It spent $1 billion in network CapEx last year, including cell towers and cloud-based software-driven operations which will rise to $2.5 billion this year. In comparison, T-Mobile spent $2.9 billion in three months on its 5G network including real estate, equipment, and 5G upgrades in the final quarter of 2021.

Delays could prove eye-wateringly expensive though: DISH pledged it would voluntarily pay fines of up to $2.2 billion for missed deadlines.

Multi-cloud dangers for telcos, automating fixed networks and the future of network slicing

March kept up the pace of developments for future networks that was set by MWC in February writes Contributing Editor Annie Turner.

A multi-cloud strategy could be extremely dangerous for any telco according to Brad Casemore, VP of Research, Datacenters and Multicloud Networking at IDC. He was speaking at a roundtable hosted by the company. His view was supported by guest speaker Ranga Rajagopalan, Chief Architect at hypervisor specialist VMware and Security specialist Stewart Parkin, CTO at Assured Data Protection. He explained that a telco in a state of cloud incongruity has own data protection frustrations as protecting its data and recovering it from ‘any cloud’ to ’any cloud’, in reasonable time, is virtually impossible.

He added that now people expect things to happen at the click of a button, essential tasks like data protection, back-up and recovery are left for a rainy day. Parkin warned that, “On that day, they will become the single most important thing in the telco’s business”.

Inmarsat has chosen Sandvine’s Application and Network Intelligence for its OpenStack private telco cloud in a three-year deal. It give Inmarsat better control of its ORCHESTRA network, a global dynamic mesh network combining L-band and Ka-band satellite networks, with terrestrial 5G as well as targeted low earth orbit satellite capacity. Inmarsat’s relationship with Sandvine started with network policy control in 2015, and has evolved towards 5G network architecture for emerging 5G and satellite services.

Orange Poland has completed the roll-out of new OSS across the country to support its FTTH roll-out and operations, based on the Comarch Cognitive OSS Suite. The operator’s CIO, Bertrand Grèzes-Besset, commented, “This implementation is a major component in the digital transformation of Orange Poland. With the permanent support of Comarch throughout the last year, we have been able to establish a new foundation for our information systems. As a major part of our growth strategy, we will now be able to focus on even deeper automation in our processes, leveraging artificial intelligence in many cases”.

According to Comarch, the benefits to Orange Poland include: built-in automation mechanisms to improve the delivery of innovative products to end-customers; API-based access to resource orders by sales systems and customer service systems; and automatic preparation of work orders in the workforce management systems.

In neighbouring Germany, alternative fibre network provider (altnet) and wholesaler Deutsche Giga Access (DGA) selected Adtran’s SDX Series of fibre access platforms to launch its FTTH services. The decision was down to DGA’s CTO, Andreas Bamberg, who said, “We chose Adtran because its approach allowed us to build a new, open-access wholesale network for future-proof services that can be controlled by an end-to-end automation management system”. He said that this “creates tremendous operational savings” as the rapidly growing German altnet market races to bring fibre broadband to every household in Germany.

Stuart Broome, VP, Sales for at Adtran said that local and regional operators will need a reliable wholesale network supplier for local support and unlimited capacity which his company’s Combo PON (passive optical network) offers as one port can supply many fibre strands.

Vodafone has embarked on a proof of concept with Nokia to create multi-access fixed network tech for Europe and Africa. They are experimenting with Nokia’s Altioplano software-defined network manager and controller (SDN-M&C) and, if successful, will start to deploy it later this year. Nokia said Vodafone chose Altiplano to span its diverse, multi-generational technology from many different vendors kit to manage multi-access networks. Vodafone said it is addressing a potential fixed broadband market of 143 million homes in Europe.

Nokia’s SDN management and control functions will be used to simplify, automate, visualise, optimise and improve Vodafone’s broadband networks and support its Network-as-a-Platform (NaaP) approach. It will also help Vodafone customise other services for customers. It does this by using open, standaridised APIs and open source, where applicable, according to Sandy Motley, President of Nokia’s Fixed Networks.

Meanwhile, in mid-March, Vodafone and Ericsson demonstrated their slicing ambitions for Europe with a demo of on-demand network slices in the UK, using a theoretical 5G Standalone network performing network slicing in an imaginary retail centre. Ericsson has already launched its Dynamic End-user Boost app with Hong Kong’s SmarTone which is designed to speed up 4G and 5G services and improves the quality of the data, as shown in this video by Ericsson. The vendor plans to launch the app in Europe for consumers and enterprises through various service providers when the time is right. SmarTone launched 5G in Hong Kong in May 2020 and claims to have the widest coverage.

At the end of March, Frinx landed its first big telco deal in Europe, with VodafoneZiggo. Within days it  was acquired by Elisa Polystar to complement Elisa Polystar’s zero-touch automation and analytics offering.

Frinx is a Slovakian start-up, founded in 2016, that specialises in the automation of provisioning and other network services. It started out as an open-source services firm with expertise in OpenDaylight then developed capabilities that could run on top of its open-source packages. This evolved into FrinxMachine – a controller, workflow system and resource manager within a single platform.

Frinx will support VodafoneZiggo’s business services delivered via fibre and hybrid fibre/coax (HFC) networks. It already works with Facebook Connectivity, SoftBank and China Telecom. Frinx’s open-source library includes configurations for multiple generations of devices plus device drivers. This provides it with a single view of what device configurations should look like so the firm can see exactly what code-level changes are necessary to update a device’s configuration automatically – some achievement considering there might be 20,000 lines of code per device.

Intelligent infrastructure was at the heart of this year’s MWC

This year’s theme was Connectivity Unleashed, and so it was, writes Contributing Editor Annie Turner.

This year’s MWC was the first to be held in its normal slot of early spring in Barcelona since 2019 because of the pandemic. It was a smaller – with about 60,000 visitors instead of the 100,000+ as usual – and more focused event than the most recent ones that sprawled in every sense. Whereas in previous years devices dominated, infrastructure was very much back in the driving seat, with 5G deployment, Open RAN, sustainability and the coming together of IT and telecoms as the major themes.

Microsoft announced new services and solutions to upgrade Azure for Operators. Azure Operator Distributed Services are to be added soon, which it described as a carrier-grade hybrid cloud platform for 5G networks, along with a 5G Standalone product for operators’ edge deployments on the Azure platform. It also announced Azure Private core and Azure public MEC for low-latency requirements.

VMware unveiled several products and partnerships designed to enable service providers to modernise their networks faster and monetise new services, including innovations in the RAN. Several service providers are trialling the VMware Radio Intelligent Controller (RIC) in their networks.

Vodafone recently completed a proof-of-concept to make more efficient use of spectrum and ran a new app from Cohere Technologies, the Spectrum Multiplier, on the VMware RIC connected to a Capgemini 5G RAN. Vodafone doubled its 5G spectral efficiency and, effectively, its cell site capacity.

Muneyb Minhazuddin, Vice President, Edge Computing, Service Provider, and Edge, VMware, said his company is working with an ecosystem of RAN vendors to test it as well. He explained, “In the Open RAN architectures, a RIC platform [can] host apps that enable these new capabilities such as automation, network optimisation, service customisation, and such. It can host both near-real-time and non-real-time applications. We are bringing the RAN intelligence to help monetize the RAN which will be a driver for adoption.”

Maybe soaring energy prices will finally boost the smart home and provide a great opportunity for network providers. A recent study published by the CTIA found that 20% of US carbon reduction by 2050 could be achieved by 5G and from automation in smart transit, smart buildings and remote working, among other things.

Accenture showed off a smart home platform that can track the energy efficiency of domestic devices and could help operators develop new managed services offerings for consumers customers by combining their 5G networks and IoT expertise. The platform uses AI and machine learning to track various aspects of home devices, from the warranty of a light bulb to a fridge’s temperature and the specific energy consumption of even very old devices.

Data appears on a dashboard that can drill down into the detail of which devices are consuming energy and where, so that consumers can make informed decisions to reduce their soaring energy bills. Apparently Accenture is yet to decide whether the platform will be offered as a plug-and-play solution for service providers to brand and offer, or as an operator-specific offering. Either way, it is being trialled by unnamed operators in North America and demand is soaring too.

Rakuten Symphony has been all over the news of late. There were several announcements at MWC. It announced the planned acquisition of Silicon Valley start-up, Robin.io. Rakuten Mobile already uses the company’s automation and orchestration solutions for deployment in its virtualised mobile network and Rakuten Capital led Robin.io’s $38 million funding round last June.

Symphony also extended the Rakuten group’s collaboration with Cisco which began with Rakuten Mobile four years ago. Symphony and Cisco signed an MoU pledging to bring together Symphony’s cloudified app store for telcos – which offers a suite of network provisioning, automation and operations software – with Cisco’s mobile, routing, switching and automation products.

Jonathan Davidson, EVP and GM of Cisco’s Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, said, “With Rakuten Symphony, we have the unique opportunity to offer global service providers an alternative to legacy RAN, with a turnkey option to transform their networks to be more intuitive and automated to support the ever-evolving needs for connectivity.”

Nokia has also agreed to add its cloud-native applications to Symworld, and will be the platform’s sole vendor of certain mobile core products which include including IP multimedia subsystem (IMS), shared data layer (SDL), and IoT platform.

Nor is Symphony’s partnerships limited to vendors: AT&T has agreed a deal to co-develop network planning and deployment tools. Symphony’s charismatic CEO, Tareq Amin, has said that more third-party components will be added “as we get all the right toolings for Symworld”.