Paving the Way for Cloud-Native Mobile Networks

Reducing human intervention throughout the entire lifecycle helps to avoid issues caused by human error and facilitates faster response to problems, ultimately leading to optimized OPEX.

This upside, however, comes with some new challenges, which operators, along with their suppliers, need to address. Certainly, it demands a new way of working, most likely significant additional integration efforts, and changes in the operational model to embrace new processes, skills, and tools. All such efforts are required to eventually ensure the expected service levels, operational efficiency, performance, resilience, and security, plus the opportunities to offer new and affordable services, meeting user demand.

While the use of monolithic solutions might reduce complexity and simplify deployment, it may lack flexibility, for instance concerning deployments of new functions. Disaggregated solutions, on the other hand, lower the barrier for innovation and facilitate the entrance of new players to the ecosystem.

Whether the benefit of lowering the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) can be achieved for operators is yet to be proven. Each individual operator will need to eventually make its choices, depending on its strategy and its starting point—greenfield or brownfield, its geolocation, local competition, and more. There are, however, many topics that need to be analyzed and are worth being solved jointly in the pre-competitive area to support global standards, economies of scale and enable competition.

Nevertheless, the operator’s target is to simplify automation and management of the entire service delivery lifecycle. Mobile network infrastructure and services need to be automated to optimize deployment and ongoing lifecycle management. Reducing human intervention throughout the entire lifecycle helps to avoid issues caused by human error and facilitates faster response to problems, ultimately leading to optimized OPEX.

Strategic focus topic

“Mastering the Route to Disaggregation” is one of NGMN’s strategic focus topics—along with “ODiN – Operating Disaggregated Networks” as one of the flagship projects NGMN launched in 2021.

NGMN ODiN published its first white paper “ODiN – Operating Disaggregated Networks” in October 2021, presenting a current operator view on the opportunities and challenges of disaggregation, all with a focus on the E2E operating model. Following its very successful publication, NGMN invited its entire partnership—in addition to mobile network operators, vendors, system integrators and other interested parties—to jointly start working on industry solutions to the challenges already identified. The project team is now working on a white paper focusing on “Industry Status and Roadmap.” The publication of further results from this activity is expected in spring 2022.

NGMN will deliver guidance for operators to make decisions on how to deal with the opportunities that come with disaggregation and how to apply them to their operating model. The Alliance will further highlight the different operating model options based on current challenges and needs and an analysis of pros and cons of each one. At the end, a target picture will emerge and be reflected in a blueprint and decision tree type of model. NGMN plans to publish this model for the benefit of the industry.

These common blueprints are a key enabler for mastering the disaggregation of mobile networks. They will ultimately enable operators to make educated decisions on how to migrate towards a disaggregated network while taking into account the distinct differences of each operators’ network and status. All this work to be done by NGMN will not stand alone but will be developed in close cooperation with other industry organizations and standards development organizations and be created in close alignment with specific relevant industry verticals to analyze potential gaps and submit requirements to the industry.

Note: This article features and cites the NGMN white paper “ODiN Operating Disaggregated Networks” developed by the NGMN ODiN project operator’s team.


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