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Five things startups do that could help you innovate 5G rapidly


Start-up businesses can make incumbents uncomfortable. While they are typically short of resources and budget, startups are packed with innovative ideas matched by an enthusiasm to quickly storm the market. Such a mindset is well suited to the fast-developing telco sector, especially now 5G is upon us.

We, and many others, have long said that 5G will create new ways for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to offer fresh products and services that capture the attention of users. The programmable 5G cloud-native core network will enable CSPs to transform services that are today taken for granted. Voice is a classic example and one I will look at more closely later in this blog.

Where startups often lack structure, established CSPs are well organized and professionally managed. Yet by adopting key traits of a startup, many CSPs could find new ways to accelerate innovation, reduce costs and deliver disruptive competition.

I believe there are five startup characteristics that CSPs could do well to adopt to fully exploit 5G technology.

First, be ready to challenge the value of your traditional, cherished services. Startups have no heavy baggage holding them back. The lesson for CSPs is that the services that will make them money in the future will probably not be the same as those that have been profitable in the past.

Voice services today tend to be free or offered on a decreasing flat-rate charge. Yet voice is a must-have service for customers. Now is the time to rethink voice by connecting and integrating it with other services. Supported by the programmable IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), voice could, for example, be at the heart of a new streaming service that builds on the smart stadium. Working with an event organizer, premium stadium tickets could include the right to stream video to up to three friends with voice and chat bundled in by the CSP.

Second, think like a startup, be agile. Startups can develop ideas fast without being held back by bureaucracy or the need for decisions to be passed up a long line of management. This agile way of working is being adopted increasingly by many larger companies to break down siloes and achieve fast time to market with services that are sharply customer focused.

Third, be prepared to experiment and fail. Not every innovation will work out. Adopting a fast-to-fail approach will limit the amount of time and resources lost on an unsuccessful project. This allows you to run several incubation projects simultaneously with limited risk and ensure you continue only with those ideas that will be the most profitable in the longer term. 5G offers a new Application Programming Interface (API) exposure framework that supports sandboxing for safe testing of new cloud-native applications to quickly find errors and identify unviable concepts.

Fourth, make the most of technology enablers. It’s essential to be aware of and exploit the secure cloud-native application creation capabilities enabled by APIs.

5G is built on technologies that make the network more open and enable more exciting and valuable services. The Network Exposure Function (NEF) acts as a secure API gateway for cloud applications to expose network programming capabilities. The number of APIs being exposed by NEF is growing constantly. Nokia’s implementation of NEF also enables integration of third-party APIs for limitless service creation possibilities. For example, keyword detection systems and natural language processing plug-ins can be integrated into 5G voice to create a new service such as voice IoT activation.

Fifth, don’t try to do everything yourself. Startups cannot do everything, so they exploit partnerships. My advice for CSPs is to find partners to develop cloud-based services and share the workload of testing, implementing and operating them. Such cooperation will inevitably lead to revenue sharing, but that is more than offset by the power of ecosystem development. Taking advantage of other parties’ expertise, development time and innovative ideas helps to boost revenue and reduce project risk.

Voice will be the new frontier of 5G

As I mentioned, voice is a classic example of a service set to be transformed by 5G.

The business relationship between CSPs, consumers and enterprises is about to change, powered by 5G capabilities that allow a huge variety of novel new services. Voice will lead the way, which is why we have created the definitive series of six white papers that take a thorough look at Voice over 5G, what it is, how to deploy it and what it could mean for your business.

  1. Voice over 5G: The future of voice services. An introduction to Vo5G, how it works and what it offers.
  2. Voice over 5G: Deployment scenarios. Explains why IMS-based VoLTE forms the basis of 5G voice services and explores deployment strategies.
  3. Voice over 5G: Readying the VoLTE network. Explores how 5G voice takes advantage of the same IMS-based architecture used in VoLTE for high quality and wide coverage.
  4. Preparing for Voice over 5G: Why VoLTE is a critical enabler. Looks more deeply into VoLTE and the reasons for CSPs that have not yet deployed VoLTE to introduce it in their LTE networks.
  5. Voice over 5G: The enterprise opportunity for CSPs. Looks at voice for enterprise and how the arrival of 5G will help CSPs regain business lost to IT and over-the-top (OTT) competitors.
  6. Voice over 5G: The ecosystem for voice networks. Explains how to create new services that include voice and the benefits they bring.

The full collection of white papers can also be found on the Nokia Vo5G core web page.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #cloud #CES #core