Elizabeth Rose Issue: Europe II 2016
Article no.: 1
Topic: Defining the future for wireless services
over Next Generation Networks
Author: Elizabeth Rose
Title: Director of Communications
Organisation: Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)
PDF size: 199KB

About author

With over 18 years of experience in wireless industry at large technology companies such as Texas Instruments and Kyocera as well as multiple technology start-ups, Elizabeth Rose currently serves as Communications Director at the Open Mobile Alliance where she oversees all communications activities.

Ms. Rose holds a Masters Degree from the University of California, San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy.

Article abstract

Globally, industry players have taken up the challenge to secure leadership in areas where they are strong and where there is potential for creating new markets such as smart cities, e-health, intelligent transport, education, entertainment and media. For example, in Europe, the EU Commission and industry – including manufacturers, telecommunications operators, service providers, SMEs and researchers have come together to initiate the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) to deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures. It is clear that in order to properly address the challenges the mobile industry as a whole must be involved in the process. This will lead to redefining value chains, reinventing the roles and relationships between the players, and at the same time, creating new innovation opportunities.  

Full Article

A vision for the structure and function of next generation networks – radically different from the current 4G networks – is beginning to take shape within the wireless industry. The 5G (Fifth Generation) networks, expected by 2020, will become a nervous system of digital society with the huge amount of data collected becoming more and more diffused into our reality, offering new business models and revenue streams. This data will be utilized to create a variety of new services, which will in turn create demand for the terminals of the future where drones, robots and self-driving cars are embedded in the infrastructure of society. First steps toward this vision include the rollout of core network technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). As these network enhancements begin to take shape, the industry will also need to put standards in place to ensure backwards compatibility of current services, as well as enable global interoperability of the new data-driven services.

Globally, industry players have taken up the challenge to secure leadership in areas where they are strong and where there is potential for creating new markets such as smart cities, e-health, intelligent transport, education, entertainment and media. For example, in Europe, the EU Commission and industry – including manufacturers, telecommunications operators, service providers, SMEs and researchers have come together to initiate the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G PPP) to deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures. It is clear that in order to properly address the challenges the mobile industry as a whole must be involved in the process. This will lead to redefining value chains, reinventing the roles and relationships between the players, and at the same time, creating new innovation opportunities.

Key challenges identified by 5G PPP include:
• Providing 1,000 times higher wireless area capacity and more varied service capabilities compared to 2010
• Saving up to 90% of energy per service provided – particularly in mobile communication where the dominating energy consumption comes from the radio access network
• Reducing the average service creation time cycle from 90 hours to 90 minutes
• Creating a secure, reliable and dependable Internet with “zero perceived” downtime for services provision
• Facilitating very dense deployments of wireless communication links to connect over seven trillion wireless devices serving over seven billion people
• Ensuring for everyone and everywhere the access to a wider panel of services and applications at lower cost

Fora who deal with technologies such as SDN, Cloud and Fog/Edge Computing, and NFV, including International Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) such as ETSI, 3GPP, NGMN, GSMA and ITU, have already begun work on the 5G mobile standard. This SDN/NFV architecture does have implications on the way services are deployed. The NFV ‘Telco Cloud’ architecture turns transport specific applications from vertical ‘silos’ into horizontal ‘slices’ where each solution is integrated with new NFV middleware so that it can operate transparently across any transport, Operating System (OS), or service platform on shared hardware. This architecture for SDN/NFV enables operators to launch new combinations of service functionality very rapidly for both end user and network applications. Functional elements, referred to as Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), can deliver service capabilities across platforms and functions can be mixed and matched to create new services. Traditional applications leverage separate middleware and operating systems to request network resources, whereas in NFV, these applications will place requests to a Northbound Interface (NBI) API of the new SDN controller to access a shared operating system and virtualized network resources.

Major telecommunications equipment vendors are implementing different variations of this architecture with varying NBI API functionality. Mobile ecosystem software players could therefore find themselves with a new applications development environment and an enormous variety of new APIs for both open platform service enablement and legacy functionality. This could seriously complicate the migration of current services to new networks, as well as slow the rollout of new services. The effort to define and standardize network layer functions is taking shape, however it is important that the mobile industry comes together to define and standardize the services layer that will be deployed to allow operators to migrate existing legacy services and recoup their investment via innovative new services.

Moving forward a number of existing legacy services will expand – some significantly, others only a little. Current legacy services include ‘native’ mobile services – Voice, HD Voice, Push to Talk (PTT), SMS, MMS, IMS and RCS-e joyn™ services – along with ‘walled garden’ and other approved operator services for multiple vertical markets, former WAP Forum and SyncML™ applications. These services are referred to as ‘legacy’ however, in 2020, they are still projected to account for nearly US$85 billion in revenue. To avoid revenue losses these legacy services must continue to be fully operational and interoperable across next generation networks while achieving seamless backwards compatibility with today’s 3G and 4G networks.

Emerging Services including ‘Over the Top’ (OTT) and SIP based services may be integrated with the above capabilities, as well as the emerging plethora of mCommerce, Automotive, Location, and Internet of Things (IoT) services. Service enablers that are inherent in SDN will create significant opportunities for new operator revenues, especially as SDN ultimately enables ‘on demand’ services to be assembled – or at least ‘instantiated’ from existing service logic. These services represent the critical value added side of NFV/SDN. If operators are to afford the migration to 5G they must focus on lowering CAPEX and OPEX and target new services that improve margins and grow new revenue portfolios.

These emerging services will likely be dominated by the agile development of technology and platform prototypes often in open-source, collaborative projects that put a premium on “code first.” In the highly competitive world of application developers, where Open Source Software (OSS) is relied upon to produce the more than 1.5 million apps available on iOS alone, the procedures and output used to create legacy services can be seen as archaic and slow to market. Legacy services were standardized by SDOs, which provide the industry with a business and legal framework, ensure interoperability and backward compatibility, while helping to prevent industry overlap and fragmentation.

It is clear that SDOs play a fundamental role in defining our complex system of reliable, interoperable mobile voice / data networks and services across the planet, however the working styles of the standards communities and the developer communities are vastly different. The standards community has typically worked to define a solution for a relatively complex problem and to create a permanent solution that helps ensure integrity and interoperability at the network and applications service layers. Upon completion, SDOs have typically produced a document published for the industry at large, to absorb and adhere to when developing their products or services.

Application developers like to create applications that take advantage of these standards, but they also want to work with socially connected tools that allow for coopting, adapting, and republishing their work and the work of others. Performance of the network layer and even middleware – is taken for granted. The vitality of the entire mobile ecosystem demands that the standards development community and the application developer community bridge the gap in work practices and deliverables to ensure efficiency and interoperability across the mobile value chain.

Many individuals in the SDO community believe that standards development processes and the output of SDOs can and must change to meet the needs of the new mobile ecosystem including app developers. New initiatives from SDOs provide tools such as client/server emulators, editors to create profile data, GitHub code repositories, and examples of how to use standards, sandbox servers for testing implementations, user communities and listings of open source projects based on standards.

As the mobile value chain evolves toward next generation network architectures and a business model emerges that includes the application developer community, SDOs must evolve to include them, as well. The telecom-related SDOs who will thrive as the next generation of networks and services are defined and deployed, will be those SDOs who embrace and address the real needs of the app developer. To do this, SDOs should provide the application developer community with tools that allow them to take advantage of the specifications they produce. A next generation mobile services ecosystem that incorporates the innovation and creativity common to developers with the safeguards and interoperability inherent in standards development will bring benefit to the entire value chain and will enable the promise of 5G.