Economies of tomorrow will be akin to platforms; an intersection of future technologies and industry verticals. The current businesses will evolve into more sophisticated ones and we will also see new services and businesses emerge. It will significantly expand the possibilities of mobile broadband and open-up a new dimension of use cases and business models.
5G promises many disruptive functionalities, such as ultra-low latency communication, high bandwidth/ throughput, higher security and network slicing that challenge the existing structure of “one network for all”. Though ultra-low latency and higher throughput technologies are revolutionarily high in scale when compared to 4G, it appears as a straightforward step up to industry outsiders, like 2G to 3G to 4G and now 5G. The question however is: is 5G just more of the same?
If not, then how is it different? It’s clear to the industry experts that 5G is not only about 5G New Radio; it also has a new 5G Core, with a novel architecture that opens up new use cases and opportunities beyond more and faster connectivity. The network evolution from the traditional EPC to 5G core plays a central role in creating a powerful network platform, capable of being exposed and automated, for operators to extract more value and become contributors in existing and emerging ecosystems.
Beyond mere connectivity
Ericsson has been instrumental in defining concepts like service-based network slicing and the cloud data layer. However, one of the concepts that is most disruptive – and that Ericsson truly believes in – is the network programmability through 5G Core, and the opportunities that open up for growth and innovation beyond simply accelerating connectivity.
5G promises a new paradigm in programmability, blending the untapped potential of multiple simultaneous network functions with endless combinations and creativity, and promising a new generation of apps that deliver a user experience like nothing else. If opening the operating system of a mobile phone to external developers was a revolution, just think what is possible by opening up a whole mobile network.
4G and 5G will drive businesses of tomorrow
Ericsson’s Mobility Report indicates that mobile data traffic is set to increase by five times by 2024. 5G coverage is forecast to reach 45 percent of the world’s population by end of 2024 making it the fastest ‘G’ ever to be rolled out on a global scale. This could surge to 65 percent, as spectrum sharing technology enables 5G deployments on LTE frequency bands. Together 4G and 5G will drive business in the coming years with IoT and 5G as main drivers for revenue growth for communication service providers (CSP).
The businesses in the 5G era are going to be quite different. Enhanced Mobile broadband will be the first use case to happen and evolved IoT use cases will follow. Industry digitalization investments will present an astounding revenue opportunity for telecom operators globally but the 5G use cases requiring ultra-low latency and ultra-high capacity will only be achievable with the 5G NR Stand Alone and the newly defined 3GPP core network architecture for 5G Core. As we have seen with 4G, service providers that came first to the market offering this new access technology were the ones capitalizing on most of the new business opportunities. It won’t be any different with 5G.
Run one core, get two generations
To be first in addressing the new 5G business opportunities, a service provider will need to start adopting new technologies on their core networks already before rolling out their first 5G NR sites. This is where the dual-mode core solution from Ericsson will make the difference,smoothening the path to 5G core networks. There are a number of challenges that service providers must deal with while on the path to 5G, from managing the data growth in both 4G and 5G with efficiency, to leveraging early investments. From reducing network OPEX and operational inefficiencies, to being fast and flexible to capture new businesses opportunities.
Service providers’ best bet to evolve their network is a solution that allows them to run all different access generations on a common software platform. Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Cloud Core solution combines 3GPP NFs from both EPC and 5GC architectures into a common cloud native software platform to support 5G NR Stand-Alone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA), 4G, 3G and 2G accesses technologies. With it comes high levels of orchestration and automation for operational efficiency only enabled by a microservices architecture.
Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Cloud Core has been conceivedto handle the programmability, automated operationanddigital exposure required to meet future challengesand business needs. By implementing this dual-mode solution, service providers will have more control to migrate to 5G in their own time and in alignment with their business needs. But the benefits of the Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Cloud Core solution do not stop on the Total Cost of Ownership efficiency to run a common-core for all accesses. The 5GCore architecture enables fast new service creation and extendibility, using software-based APIs to efficiently configure and connect core network functionality. This can potentially change the way service providers interact with the enterprise industry and how they explore new business model opportunities with industries and partners.
By Nitin Bansal, Head of Ericsson India and Head of Networks Solutions , Market Area South east Asia , Oceania and India