Five telco techno trends for 2023 and beyond
In Amit’s blog at the beginning of the year, he had described five technology developments hitting telco streets in 2022. The blog resonated with many people in the industry, generating interesting discussions. As a follow-up to the previous blog, I have articulated in this blog a view further ahead at the top trends likely to gain traction in 2023 and beyond. So here goes…
Edge orchestration to take center stage
Edge computing hosts and allows execution of applications at the edge of the network. It facilitates this using data collection, processing, storage, and analytics close to the locations where content is consumed and produced by end-user devices such as sensors, actuators, and controllers.
Edge cloud brings the capabilities and benefits of cloud services closer to the user equipment, and in the case of 5G, closer to the radio-enabled industrial devices and IIoT (Industrial IoT) application functions.
It is the proximity of the edge cloud, together with edge computing, that provides benefits such as low latency, availability, and reliability, to the user applications and delivers requisite performance for high bandwidth and latency sensitive use cases like IIoT, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and industry 4.0.
With 5G monetization as the prize, the edge cloud computing technology will proliferate rapidly as communications service providers (CSPs) deploy 5G networks with dozens of central and thousands of distributed cloud-edge sites.
To be able to successfully deploy and manage various edge computing use cases, services, and applications it is evident that orchestrating resources over geographically distributed, small footprint edge data centers will be the next challenge for CSPs and large enterprises. Such deployments will require an evolved level of intelligent context aware automation and real time correlation of network, services, and application resources.
The edge cloud computing environment will evolve, using Network as Code, multi cloud, open API exposure and AI/ML with closed loop intent driven orchestration. These building blocks will create a converged framework at the network edge to meet a multitude of user demands delivered with high agility and lower operational cost.
Edge orchestration is therefore critical and edge ecosystems will evolve to become an essential pillar of CSPs' digital transformation journey, enabling them to gain market relevance beyond just connectivity.
Digital twins to guide network operations
In the telco world, a digital twin is a virtual representation of a network (services and applications) based on real-time data from multiple sources like ML data lakes, edge clouds, IoT devices, subscriber data, sensors and more. The aim is to use simulation and machine learning to visualize and predict the effects of different scenarios without having to implement them in physical networks.
The digital twin is not new, the term being coined by NASA in 2010. The technology has since been used extensively in the aerospace, automotive and urban planning sectors.
As CSPs adopt and accelerate digital transformation to address complex 5G consumer and industry vertical use cases, digital twins can monitor and augment such complex systems in real-time. This will help CSPs to better understand the network, processes, and customers – and how they impact one another.
Early use cases we are exploring at Nokia Core Networks include:
- Network monitoring with anomaly prediction and self-healing
- Network function software update and version management service
- Visual network planning and configuration in Digital Sandbox for impact analysis prior to network deployment
- Simulation of energy consumption and cost of running the services based on function of €/MW
- Simulation of least cost routing to simulate cost (for CSP) of routing calls / data via different interconnect carriers instead of performing actual routing
- Simulation of interface failure and traffic re-routing to represent impact of failure on network and services.
5G satellite access – connectivity reaches new heights
As we look ahead, we expect a boom in satellite access for Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs) that use spaceborne/airborne vehicles for transmission as well as devices that access satellite connectivity directly. It is an exciting capability made possible by Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that are smaller, lighter, and much cheaper to build, launch and operate than traditional geostationary and mid orbit satellites.
3GPP is working on 5G NTN standardization as part of release 17, for 5G Advanced (R18), and this technology is being seen as an integrated part of 6G to provide connectivity everywhere.
5G NTN satellite access creates many possibilities, including:
- Rural and remote 5G coverage, filling gaps in existing networks
- Global 5G connectivity in areas without terrestrial coverage
- Global mobile broadband and IoT coverage with low-cost connectivity
- Fixed wireless access
- IoT low data rate services for long battery life
- Connectivity for planes, ships and in disaster areas.
Networks-and-more-as-a-Service (N+aaS) – building more capabilities on top of Core SaaS
In Amit’s last blog, Core Network Software-as-a-Service (Core SaaS) was described as offering hardware, software and services bundled into a pay-as you-grow subscription. Core SaaS offers simplicity and a more predictive, OPEX-led approach.
In 2023 and beyond, services will be distributed, deployed and run across multiple resources such as public clouds, edge clouds, networks, and devices all working together to provide a single service or set of services. CSPs will evolve from Core SaaS to N+aaS (Networks-and-more-as-a-Service) providers with cloud, connectivity, context, and data assets offered to enterprises.
N+aaS builds on Core SaaS, going beyond basic connectivity to offer additional value in the form of positioning, presence and other network-driven insights that are abstracted for digital services to consume. The current way of delivering Core SaaS from public clouds will be extended to use local resources to meet the needs of future applications in augmented reality, gaming or automation that require local anchors to provide low latency, efficient data transfer and for enhanced security and privacy.
Network of networks and cloud federation creates more possibilities for new things
To facilitate N+aaS to deliver services comprising multiple assets from many diverse sources, CSPs will need to seamlessly support the sharing of arbitrary resources, from arbitrary application domains with arbitrary consumer groups across multiple administrative domains.
Network of networks or Cloud Federations will be key for achieving such a complex sharing of resources from multiple cloud environments such as public clouds, private clouds, and hybrid cloud, as well as on-premises data centers.
A vast range of dynamic resources and services sharing are possible, such as cloud bursting, telemetry and observability data of events and alarms, data sharing collaboration based on regulatory requirements, disaster recovery models etc. Any type of organizational collaboration could be facilitated by a secure method to selectively share data with specific partners.
With the adoption of federated cloud ecosystems, users can take advantage of increased reliability, the flexibility to deploy assets on multiple cloud providers according to their business requirements and services that leverage multiple assets as distributed service chains.
However, cloud federation is an emerging topic, so much effort is still needed to seamlessly integrate multiple assets with the right security and entitlement for users.
What do you think?
We would very much like to hear your opinions about these techno trends and what you think they could mean for our industry. Which will have the greatest impact? Do you think they will live up to their expectations? And what other developments do you foresee?
Please join the conversation.