By Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO at Core Network Dynamics
As we look ahead to the next 12 months, what will be some of the big trends in the mobile industry? Of course 5G preparations will loom large, as well as continued excitement over the potential for new revenue streams from markets such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). But we’ll also see the start of a major movement towards a more agile, Google-like breed of mobile operator; one in which they start to wrest back control of their own core network. So without further ado, here are my 2017 predictions.
More 5G trials to come
During the next twelve months we will see a flurry of 5G trials taking place. Some of these projects will focus on the deployment and radio side of 5G, like the trials in the context of the 5GPP 5G Crosshaul project.
Taking the example of the 5GPP 5G-Crosshaul project, we may see a transport network enabled with an SDN architecture that can dynamically place the different software components (BBU or even Core) in different computing nodes throughout the network. Placement decisions may be based on traffic requirements per location, the availability of transport links and computing nodes, or specific energy consumption strategies.
A more Google-like approach
Also in 2017, we will see some advanced operators moving to become more like Google as they look to reduce their reliance on slow and inflexible network equipment providers. The goal will be to regain control of their core network by transforming themselves from operators of networks to developing their own core network infrastructure software in-house. This will allow them to be more agile, innovative and competitive with regard to what is of course their core competence; the network.
Core network source code licensing
In order to jump start their own development efforts, these operators will seek to license core network software in source code. This approach will give operators more flexibility and more control of their own destiny.
Software developer recruitment gold rush
To realise this vision will require hiring a new breed of developer.We’ll see operators competing to hire experienced agile software developers with telco knowledge to fuel the development of core network infrastructure.
Following Orange’s lead
In 2016 we saw Orange and Proximus opening up their APIs to developers. This is a smart move. It signals the start of mobile operators’ transformation from phone service providers to more technology-driven infrastructure service providers.
Over the next 12 months, more operators will follow their lead. By sharing their core network APIs with third party developers, operators can accelerate their diversification and innovation with new applications.
Scalable, distributed core networks
Operators will re-architect their core networks to allow them to target emerging use cases in areas such as public safety, which requires increased resilience, and IoT plus IIoT, which requires reduced network latency. To do this, the core network needs to be distributed and capable of scaling up and down to handle many millions of users and devices. It also needs to be lightweight enough to run in very resource-constrained environments.
This will mean taking advantage of mobile edge computing for the distributed core, rather than relying on the traditional racks of dedicated hardware that characterise the traditional, centralised core network.
Core Network Dynamics develops and markets OpenEPC, a complete mobile network infrastructure in software.