Why 5G matters now
The hype around 5G has been near-deafening, with new capabilities like improved speed, lower latency and higher capacity, capturing much of the early conversation. As exciting as those improvements are, says Jennifer Kyriakakis, founder, MATRIXX Software, they only scratch the surface of why 5G is more than just another G. What makes 5G Stand-Alone (SA) truly game-changing is its adoption of web scale architecture for dynamic resource utilisation, dramatically reducing both cost and complexity.
Just as cloud computing (also built on web scale architectures) has fundamentally changed how the internet itself functions, 5G will be equally transformative for operators by completely reinventing how consumers, enterprise, and operators connect. By giving operators new tools to better scale, adapt and manage their networks, and then simplifying how everything – from network and IT components to devices – talks to one another, 5G will give operators the ability to tune networks like never before.
Moving beyond one-size-fits-all
One of differences between 5G and the previous generation of G’s is how network services will be delivered. In the past, telco operators built their networks to provide best effort to every subscriber. The result often meant overbuilding the network to support every demand scenario. While this may have been possible then, with the numbers and types of devices on the network expected to exponentially increase, operators simply must take a different approach.
What does that different approach look like? For the first time with 5G, the network will now be able to rapidly and cost-effectively harness dynamic resources when and where they are needed, strategically and selectively delivering network services by leveraging new technologies. The result is a network built with the elasticity and resiliency necessary to support the continued diversification of devices and service requirements, without having to build the network to the exact requirements of every device accessing the network. Stated more plainly – unlike with previous generations – operators can now switch from “build it and they will come” to “build it as they come.”
To illustrate this point, MATRIXX CTO, Marc Price recently hosted a webinar where he discussed the myriad ways a network can be distributed with standalone 5G, taking components from enterprise including independent scalability, isolation of state, and session continuity. In fact, he spoke at length about the importance of new network slicing capabilities, which enable operators to deliver a variety of different network services and experiences without changing the underlying network. Looking ahead, operators can expect to have hundreds or even thousands of different slices in their network, each delivering unique qualities of service, as 5G evolves.
Equally important in distributing the network is the role of edge computing in 5G, whereby operators can separate radio and core components and place only what they need at the near or far edge of the network while centralising control in the core. This is important because it enables operators to reduce network congestion by intelligently routing local traffic at the edge rather than having to scale every component of the network for every possibility.
Everything talks to everything
Another important distinction between 5G and earlier-G networks? Historically, telco networks have used point-to-point communications between purpose-built hardware. The result? If an element wanted to share information with another element, a dedicated connection between the two was required. This had the unfortunate effect of making most networks look like a spaghetti dinner with an alphabet soup of signaling protocols sprinkled on top.
5G resolves this problem by utilising a service-based architecture that allows elements to simply publish and subscribe to any other element without requiring a dedicated point to point interaction. This means that operators will be empowered to build, scale and evolve their 5G networks more quickly, easily and cost-effectively than ever before, including through a simple registration process which can even be automated.
Making way for new revenue streams
As web scale influences the design of the network, inevitably we will see new business models emerge. It’s one thing to talk about new technologies and charging functions, but how does all this translate into dollars and euros for telco operators? By leveraging this newfound flexibility and control over the network, including such capabilities as network slicing, 5G will unlock new revenue-generating services for both enterprises and consumers.
Whether dynamically charging against usage, SLAs or any other metric that a telco operator wants, 5G will make it possible to quickly and efficiently configure, deploy and manage consumer services in entirely new ways. In fact, regardless of the use case or charging model, the benefits remain the same – the ability to adapt with agile automation to any and all eventualities, everything from time, location, demand, device and more. Thanks to the improvements and evolution of telecom standards, these models create infinite charging possibilities for 5G.
The author is Jennifer Kyriakakis, founder, MATRIXX Software. Jennifer brings deep expertise in both telecoms and software with roles ranging from complex systems delivery to technical sales to strategic marketing. Her 20+ years of experience helping telcos reinvent themselves have propelled the growth of MATRIXX into markets all over the globe. In 2009, Jennifer co-founded MATRIXX Software with the vision of transforming how telcos do business in the digital economy.