The commoditization of the telecoms market meant that the launch of 5G was pretty much a given. Once the wheels were put in motion, even the most skeptical of carriers have, or rather, had no choice. As with previous generations, once the path was set, it became a race to ‘be first’ regardless of the consequences. Yet, as opposed to previous mobile generations, the business case for 5G has remained elusive.
There is no doubt that deploying 5G requires a massive investment. The spectrum bids are but a portion of the overall spend. Carriers will need to deploy the 5G New Radio (NR) and in larger numbers because of the network density required. And while most have decided to launch 5G in Non-Stand Alone (NSA) mode, the interworking between the NR and the current 4G/LTE infrastructure – has turned out not to be as simple, or intuitive, as hoped. So, simply put, the costs are high.
The other side of the equation is more ambiguous. While the industry talks the talk of multiple, differentiated services that will be made possible with 5G, in reality the majority are launching eMBB use cases. Indeed, in some cases this enables the carriers to move into new markets (new services such as 5G UHD video streaming or entering rural, lesser covered areas with FWA). However, as we’ve mentioned before, the industry agrees that consumers will likely not pay more for faster, bigger data packages. So ‘where’s the money’?
By definition, 5G is supposed to support three major service classes: enhanced high-speed mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable and low latency communications (uRLLC), and massive machine-type communications (mMTC). While mobile broadband can be supported with the current, 4G infrastructure other service classes cannot. For example, the super low latency requirements of uRLLC services will require a different network design. It is safe to say that to support these services, service providers are facing a ‘fork in the road’ in terms of how to upgrade their current predominantly IP networks.
For many, it seems the strategy of choice depends on: 1) how quickly the SP believe 5G will achieve its full service potential, and 2) whether the SP believes that all traffic-engineering challenges are solvable at the IP layer. How these play out is exhibited in the following table:
|5G services to be launched:||Traffic engineering is solvable at the||Resulting network strategy|
|Option 1||Mostly eMBB||IP layer only||‘Throw bandwidth at it’ strategy|
|Option 2||eMBB first, maybe later additional services||Predominantly IP layer||IP-over-DWDM strategy|
|Option 3||eMBB first, likely additional services later||Needs to involve multiple layers||Multi-layer strategy|
In my latest white paper I look at each of the different strategies and assess the pros and cons of each. And while my mind is made up, yours might well not be. This is the perfect time to assess your network strategy and make sure it aligns with your 5G goals and aspirations. Investing and fortifying your network will take time, and developing the required skill set sometimes takes even longer. Download my latest white paper to learn:
While you don’t have to make a decision over night, should you decide that you need to rearchitect your network, you might already be a ‘bit late to the gate’.
To learn more about ECI’s 5G Solutions, click here.
Hayim joined ECI to lead its innovation center and spearhead the efforts in the areas of NFV and SDN. Hayim comes to ECI with much experience both in the SDN/NFV areas as well as in more traditional telecoms. Previous to joining ECI, Hayim held the position of Chief Cloud IaaS and SDN Architect at Toga Networks, Principal Architect at Tejas Networks, Founder and CTO of Ethos Networks and more.