A Stormy 5G Transformation Forecast

Thriving in this new environment means transforming telecom innovation pipelines, from design and development all the way through to deployment of new network-based products and services.
tests to rapidly isolate issues across domains and paths, and 5G non-standalone pre- and post-launch performance testing, laying the foundation for eventual standalone 5G upgrades

Managed solutions

As touched on throughout this article, operators are seeking new partners at every turn to offload burdensome demands, when they don’t have the people, expertise or time to manage themselves. Networks are just too distributed and too diverse. There’s too much software from too many vendors, all with different release schedules. There are too many security risks threatening performance, data loss or worse.

In recent Test-as-a-Service (TaaS) engagements with operators, major network releases accelerated threefold, from six months per release to one every six weeks. In recent Lab-as-a-Service work, operators saw 300x faster testbed setup and a 320 percent increase in test capacity due to automation, which minimizes manual test hours.

Yes, it seemed to happen overnight, but being stuck between a rock and a hard place tends to accelerate innovation and market trends. Whatever the next normal is, we know it will represent significant change. Telecom network management and testing will be no exception. Recognizing this reality compels operators to rethink their validation strategies and to aggressively reshape and redeploy operations and teams as the market demands.

An innovation pipeline

The developments discussed here aren’t just about moving fast or keeping up with the competition. They’re about building an enduring business that can pivot on a dime—a feat not currently within reach for legacy telco networks. Operators won’t have many months to stand up and build out services or purpose-built networks when enterprise customers come knocking. Instead, they’ll need to look a lot more like cloud providers: at the ready when the need arises.

On the journey, telcos will meet new and old competitors alike. They too will have positioned themselves in their own way to be agile with a robust service set. While the competition will be formidable, telcos making the necessary moves today will find themselves ready to compete effectively, staking out dominant positions in the markets they’re targeting.

Thriving in this new environment means transforming telecom innovation pipelines, from design and development all the way through to deployment of new network-based products and services. The ultimate goal is for organizations to move from a handful of waterfall-style network releases each year, to a steady stream of continuous network development and integration. This means new test infrastructure, new labs, new experts, new processes and new training.

Consider the recent success of a global top-five operator in its quest to rapidly deploy a new cloud-native 5G core and ongoing releases. It faced steep challenges collaborating efficiently with multiple network vendors. Despite considerable experience and capabilities, the operator still lacked the time, resources and tools to move as fast as it needed to hit ambitious goals. The collaboration transformed the operator's ability to release new features quickly.

Forecast for 5G remains stormy

Our current forecast suggests that we will not see the clouds break in this perfect storm anytime soon. But with a full pipeline of innovation ready to provide cover, operators should be more confident than ever in global 5G pursuits. Driven by rethinking their strategies, the transition to a new way of working will surely unleash the unexpected, but operators have demonstrated a resilience this past year that makes it clear they’re ready to stand up to any challenge. By this time next year, processes may look vastly different, but the vision of what’s possible for 5G will be clearer than ever.


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