As cellular service providers increasingly must compete in today’s brave new world of over-the-top (OTT) services and a mobile broadband explosion that features all-you-can-eat, unlimited data plans, mobile carriers can no longer operate on previous business models. Further complicating the challenge, new digital, cloud-based players, such as Amazon (AWS), Google (Cloud) and Microsoft (Azure) have changed the service delivery game with agile, pay-as-you-grow and on-demand pricing models for telecom services. Adding to the competitive landscape, cable/MSOs have begun building a fixed mobile network with Wi-Fi access points and hot spots enabling new services such as voice-over-Wifi (VoWifi).
Layer on top of this the growing proliferation of new Internet of Things (IoT) devices and services, which often don’t fall into one of the traditional voice, video and data buckets, and it’s clear that mobile carriers have considerable hurdles to overcome. When combined with the daunting task of upgrading and adding 5G technology to carrier networks, it is little wonder that cellular service providers are exploring new business models to remain competitive and thrive in this rapidly evolving marketplace.
A new generation of 5G cellular communications will enable a host of new connected technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities, robotics, emergency and security applications, power sensors, and health monitors, with ultra-low latency, expanded (device) density, and extreme bandwidth.
Of course, ensuring that these devices are constantly connected, and that network performance and security is optimal will necessitate enhanced service and security assurance. The key to achieving the scalability and holistic visibility into new, virtualized infrastructures as well as legacy network infrastructures - which will be instrumental to future success - is real-time smart data.
As mobile carriers engage in the most ambitious and important transformations in history, newer and better performance monitoring instrumentation will be needed. Virtual probes that provide visibility down to the VNF level, while retaining the micro-service construct and subscriber session context and user experience, will be essential if mobile carriers are to retain visibility and perform proactive monitoring and service triage in their hybrid and virtualized network infrastructure. And with the gradual rollout of 5G, carriers will need holistic visibility into a multi-layer network of 2G, 3G, 4G infrastructure and virtualized functions. Again, smart data is the answer.
Going forward, mobile carriers will be looking to realize the benefits of automation and unlocking the cost savings and agility promised by virtualization. Smart data, gleaned from real-time IP traffic, is going to be an essential part of closed loop automation processes. Having lightweight, virtualized instrumentation that can “see” IP packets at accelerated speeds and create real-time, extensible data to inform the policy engine is going to be indispensable with the emergence of mobile edge computing, network slicing and C-RAN in new 5G networks.
In the past, service assurance and security solutions were an afterthought that would be appended to existing networks instead of incorporated at the outset. As mobile service providers compete in today’s new digital world, a software-based, pervasive instrumentation model for service and security assurance is needed. By employing such an approach from beginning with 5G/IoT and virtualization, mobile operators will have access to the data and intelligence they need to manage and monetize traffic in their evolving networks.
Mobile service providers delivering voice, video and data services over physical, virtual and hybrid networks can proactively utilize smart visibility and smart data to ensure service assurance continuity on the journey to the cloud, while delivering lower costs, higher intelligence, and a continued carrier-grade experience in a more secure network. This is surely welcome news for providers.
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