The telecommunications industry is undergoing a transformation like never before. As 5G networks continue to roll out worldwide, telecom companies are realizing that it can yield more benefits when combined with edge and AI — edge computing helps reduce network latency and provides wireless and radio access functionalities for 5G service; AI, edge and 5G networks have enhanced data management capabilities. Communication service providers (CSPs) need to think beyond solely providing the 5G pipeline when there are opportunities to monetize business services by leveraging 5G’s low latency speeds and wireless connectivity capabilities.
However, to provide such services, CSPs cannot depend on point solutions anymore as they only address a single need. CSPs will need to adopt integrated solutions that can comprehensively address industry-specific requirements, such as telematics for automotive companies and ultra-high definition live broadcasting for media and entertainment companies.
This is why, modernizing the underlying network infrastructure is critical. Modernization of network infrastructure requires CSPs to address multiple challenges associated with transforming the existing siloed operations, complexities in the 5G network architecture, and the changing regulatory landscape.
Challenges facing telcos in maximizing 5G service delivery
A key issue that has been plaguing the industry for years is its multigenerational network ecosystem. As new generations of networks entered the market, telcos have had to add tools and forge partnerships that now exist in siloes. In this environment, CSPs often use manual means to deliver their services. However, to unlock the full potential of 5G and edge’s capabilities, CSPs will need to automate their service delivery. Zero-touch services can only be enabled once these siloes are removed and seamless connections are ensured.
Deploying such connections necessitate CSPs to virtualize the network across edge locations. However, while 60 percent of CSPs recognize the importance of virtualization, only half of them have been able to achieve it in a cloud-native environment. The major obstacles include lack of expertise in 5G networks, edge deployment and difficulty in managing the associated risks and costs. What’s further exacerbating the problem is that traditional partner capabilities are still not completely cloud-optimized. The business and operations’ support systems along with the network hardware providers still operate using on-premise applications. High dependency on these partners and systems often compel CSPs to compromise with response times to customers. It also hinders the speed of launching new capabilities.
The good news is that many telcos have realized these shortcomings and are seeking solutions to accelerate 5G deployment. Large telecom providers are investing heavily into developing and testing 5G’s capabilities. To maintain cost efficiency, CSPs are adopting agile platforms and solutions to scale and manage their core networks that can support constantly generating data volumes. Here’s where IBM Cloud for Telecommunications comes in with a full-stack cloud solution.
IBM Cloud for Telecommunications
IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is developed with the current and future needs of telecom providers in mind. This all-inclusive multi-cloud solution has an open, hybrid cloud architecture that helps enterprises accelerate their network modernization journey. It combines IBM’s expertise in the telecommunications domain and experience in building industry-specific, hybrid multi-cloud solutions with strong cross-industry alliances for value-added solutions and use cases.
This solution covers the entire lifecycle of 5G deployment, from infrastructure and platform to orchestration and management of the middleware. It is built on the IBM Cloud Satellite and leverages Red Hat OpenShift to enable a truly hybrid cloud environment for the telecom providers. It also allows CSPs to deploy the cloud services securely on their preferred location — be it cloud, edge, or on-premises.
IBM Cloud for the telecommunications industry.
The platform caters to the providers’ needs of automation and accelerates the launch of cloud services, while reducing the cost of network infrastructure. Enterprises can enable zero-touch service automation, by integrating IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager into the platform. The Cloud Manager provides orchestration capabilities for deploying services based on the network, and virtualizing and containerizing network functions. In a closed loop service delivery environment, automated operations can resolve issues faster and with higher efficiency.
IBM Cloud for Telecommunications also provides 5G and edge accelerators to enterprises through its Edge Application Manager. The IBM Edge Application Manager fuels the edge nodes with AI/ML and analytics, and automates the lifecycle management of servers, edge devices, and applications. Adding the IBM public cloud to this helps scale and monetize industry solutions worldwide. Enterprises can also utilize IBM Cloud Pak for Data platform with IBM Watson assistant for AI and ecosystem modernization.
IBM’s solution for telecom providers have already shown its abilities in accelerating apps time-to-market by 33 percent. By modernizing their network architecture, enterprises have reduced resource requirement by 30 percent and IT and ops admin allocation by 37 percent. The AI capabilities have resulted in reducing unplanned downtime by a significant 95 percent.
IBM Cloud for Telecommunications is augmented and supported with advanced technologies developed by IBM’s partner ecosystem. These partners enable CSPs to generate accurate insights and deliver innovative cloud services to their customers. HCL’s IBM Cloud Solutions Unit is one such entity.
How does HCL help?
HCL IBM Ecosystem’s Unit offers telecom companies with agile, secure, and effective solutions for modernizing their operations. With HCL’s IBM Cloud Paks, enterprises can accelerate the cloud migration process for all their complex and critical workloads. Our service offerings include building applications, automating tasks such as predicting outcomes and processing data, and managing multi-cloud environments.
Along with HCL’s partnership with IBM, our dedicated hybrid cloud center of excellence (CoE) ensures consistent support for CSPs in their digital transformation journey. HCL’s efforts have reduced the clients’ manual processes by 80 percent, development time by 84 percent, and operational expenses by 75 percent.
The telecommunications industry is abuzz with the rapidly growing community of 5G subscribers. Within a year (Q3 2019 to Q3 2020) 5G network providers added 225 million more subscriptions globally. The momentum calls for CSPs to maximize the potential of the low-latency network architecture with higher-value services to businesses, and bring to the fore a new era of wireless communication. Soon, their efforts will enable widespread video surveillance for safer streets, unmanned vehicle operations for improved transportation, and AR/VR/XR for greater viewing experiences.