Call it a sprint, call it a marathon, but the race to deploy 5G is certainly an interesting one. There isn’t a well-defined ‘right approach’, nor is the journey a straight path, rather a survival-of-the-fittest scenario, befit of Darwinian proportions, is what we will most likely get to see. Nevertheless, 5G requires an end-to-end point of view and is just as much about the network and network transformation than it is about the client or mobile device.
5G represents a significant shift for networks, and it's essential to get ready ahead of the curve. It’s no surprise 5G requires massive amounts of data flowing through telco pipes; and, adding more fiber to strengthen backhaul networks would seem like an ideal solution. However, is this really the only solution for the last mile? Certainly not. Many carriers are even slowing down their FTTX plans, reconsidering wireless initiatives and pondering over new fixed broadband wireless solutions. Incidentally, fixed broadband wireless solutions have been deployed in many parts of the world for more than two decades now, where laying fiber is improbable due to the density and physical characteristics of landscapes.
Virtualization is another avenue to bring down costs, improve efficiencies, and expand service offerings. Open networking architectures and disaggregation models are currently being adopted encompassing software defined networking (SDN) intertwining 5G and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies. Radio Access Networks (RAN) virtualization realizes the NFV vision by re-defining the world of legacy, proprietary base stations into a brand-new era of flexible, virtualized Radio Access Networks (vRAN). By virtualizing the Base Station and disaggregating the hardware from the software, Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) and applications can run on distributed Open Mobile Edge Clouds (OMEC) at the metro and network edge overcoming spectrum barriers and reducing costs.
Moreover, industry leaders are launching 5G ready platforms to accelerate network transformation. For example, Intel, a KGPCo platinum technology partner, recently released their 5G mobile trial platform to allow for greater collaboration from infrastructure and carrier partners. The main advantages of collaborating on this platform is it not only uses high speeds up to 10Gbps, but also is a community framework to develop algorithms to figure out what works, what doesn't work for use cases like fixed-wireless or automotive and industrial. Further the platform will test network-device NR interoperability while standards are being modified by the industry body, with the information it gains from such trials to be used in technology development. At launch, the 5G platform supported 3GPP NR early interoperability; the 600-900MHz, 3.3-4.2GHz, 4.4-4.9GHz, 5.1-5.9GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz spectrum bands; and a mobile interoperability solution for end-to-end 5G field testing.
While leading industry thinkers concur network transformation will happen through large scale adoption of NFV, orchestration of network services, and automated network management. And many agree that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and adoption of new 5G technologies will transform network operation models and business. They also raise concerns to the challenges. For instance, transformation comes with the challenges of implementing effective virtual security measures. Isolating unknown flaws is particularly difficult, as these flaws are no longer visual cues coming from physical boxes. Coupled with hardware chip-level security vulnerabilities, which are targeted by hackers, the problem is compounded further.
For more than 40 years, KGPCo remains an industry leader accelerating transformation for operators at the intersection of business, technology and culture. Our growth is attributable to delivering critical solutions for modernizing networks, transitioning technologies, advancing business culture, and streamlining business processes throughout the operators’ journey and evolution of communication over the years.