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2020 @mobileeurope

Special promotion:

A CLOUD-NATIVE SIGNALLING CORE NetNumber COO Steve Legge on the InterGENerational approach to 5G

CTO Interview


Scott Petty of Vodafone UK explains how to run a national network from employees’ homes with soaring levels of traffic

Insights report: 5G


Leading with our annual readership survey, we look at issues including the edge, AI and automation, progress with standalone and security

Wireless World


From Covid-19 to big moves from Big Tech, it’s been a tumultuous quarter around the globe for mobile networks and operators


17 Insight Report: 5G 18 Readership survey: Graeme Neill analyses our readership survey on 5G and notes some significant changes since the previous year

24 Keys to the kingdom:

10 Editors picks 10 CTO Interview Scott Petty, CTO of Vodafone UK, explains how the operator has run its network from employees’ home – a task considered impossible as recently as January

16 CTO Spotlight Jan Hruška, CTO at O2 Czech Republic, on the wisdom of Aeschylus and the Little Prince, and the biggest obstacles to 5G

38 Focus: Orange Group explains its AI and data strategy In May, Steve Jarrett, SVP of the new Data and AI unit, and Emmanuel Lugagne-Delpon, SVP at Orange Labs Networks, shared early AI use cases, and lessons and benefits gained so far.

OpenRAN seeks to break vendor lock-in OpenRAN’s momentum is developing rapidly. Will its mainstream adoption spell the end of an era for incumbent vendors? Graeme Neill reports.

28 How 5G is both less and

more secure than previous networks


Kate O’Flaherty asks how secure 5G is really and what’s being done to address vulnerabilities?

30 Enterprise networks:

the battle for eminence at the edge Public cloud companies are allying with operators, as well as readying to compete against them. This is a critical time for telcos, writes Annie Turner.

34 Covid-19 drives to the core of 5G issues How will the pandemic delay the deployment of standalone? Regulators and governments need to rethink their approach in the wake of Covid-19 argues Annie Turner

Full Spectrum 41 Wireless World A round-up of the big stories beyond Europe in what has been a tumultuous quarter

42 Final say Understanding how much 5G improves mobile experience is critical to consumers considering upgrading to 5G and for operators to plan how quickly to invest in it, explains Ian Fogg, VP Analysis at Opensignal

Welcome Editor: Annie Turner Contributing Editor: Sarah Wray Sub Editor: Lisa Hughes Design and Production: Alex Gold Account Director: Fidi Neophytou Acting Marketing Manager: Marcin Piechowski Publisher: Wayne Darroch +44 (0) 20 7933 8999 ISSN: 1350 7362 Free Subscriptions Mobile Europe and European Communications is a controlled circulation quarterly magazine available free to selected personnel at the publisher’s discretion. If you wish to apply for regular free copies please register online at: Paid Subscriptions Readers who fall outside of the strict terms of control may purchase an annual subscription. 1 year UK subscription: £111 one year International subscription: £139 To purchase a subscription please call: +44 (0)1635 879361 Free subscriptions: Paid subscriptions: Tel: +44 (0)1635 879 361 Printed By Buxton Press

The views expressed in Mobile Europe & European Communications are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Mobile Europe & European Communications is published by SJP Business Media 2nd Floor, St Mary Abchurch House 123 Cannon Street London, EC4N 5AU

When the GSMA cancelled MWC on 12 February, it divided opinion. At the time, some wondered whether it was overreacting. With hindsight this seems extraordinary. Tragedy soon followed and working life changed abruptly for many millions. Everyone was fearful – and rapidly came to hate the word ‘unprecedented’. Digital transformation is suddenly no longer the province of management consultants and those in tech, or an option for one day in the future. It has become necessary for all kinds of businesses, as well as public services. The telecoms industry was catapulted centre stage as never before and everyone quickly became aware of just how much we rely on connectivity for work, education, leisure, health and staying in touch with the people we care about. Operators were dealing with spikes in traffic sometimes exceeding 50% – the sort of growth they would normally expect over a year, not a few days – and the places where the loads spiked, and the types of traffic, were also different. Over the course of the outbreak, those things changed, too. The interview (page 10) with Scott Petty, CTO at Vodafone UK, is a fascinating read about how the company was able to run its national infrastructure from staff homes throughout – which Vodafone had thought impossible as late as January. Jan Hruska, CTO of O2 Czech Republic, shares his views on how the pandemic will change telecoms, because it has permanently changed the wider economy and society (see page 16). We investigate how the pandemic has affected the rollout of 5G and the standalone core in particular (see page 34), and consider what changes are needed for telecoms to thrive and support communities and economies. On the brink of 5G’s new capabilities turning into commercial services, is the tech secure enough to cope with the array of use cases we expect it to support (see page 28)? We also assess progress at the edge (see page 31), which is critical to operators’ future, and telcos’ complex relationship with public cloud giants, which are both competitors and collaborators. Against a complex, shifting background operators are scrambling to leverage data and AI. Two senior executives from Orange Group share how they are applying AI to data in order to design, run and optimise the network, with sizeable benefits already (see page 38). Stay safe and well, enjoy the issue and do email me with any comments or suggestions. Annie Turner Editor Mobile Europe & European Communications

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE 21st & 28th July 2020 Sponsor:

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Other highlights include… • Dr John Davies, Chief Scientist, Future Business Technology, BT, will describe the role of 5G in IoT • Professor Dror Fixler, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO of FirstPoint Mobile Guard Ltd, will probe cybersecurity issues that affect individuals and companies • Adarsh Krishnan, Principal Analyst, ABI Research, will outline developments in the communication tech that underpins IoT • and more

For the full agenda and to register free please visit Please note: Attendance is restricted to telco operator staff. If you work for a service provider or vendor then please get in touch with Fidi on or +44 (0)7741 911 302 to discuss how your business can play a role in this event.


Sponsored Interview: Netnumber

New networks come, old networks carry on: the need for an intergenerational solution Steve Legge, Chief Operating Officer at NetNumber, talked to Annie Turner about rolling its TITAN platform into TITAN.IUM to support operators’ unique journeys to becoming cloud-native. This is irrespective of the technologies they use now – from virtual machines and NFV to cloud native, or any combination of them.

Q2 2020 •

Sponsored Interview: Netnumber

AT: Where does your new TITAN.IUM platform leave your current solution? SL: The name of the new platform is TITAN.IUM, and even from its name you can see it is the next evolution of the TITAN platform. TITAN.IUM is our new, cloud-native, InterGENerationalTM platform, so we can support every generation of our network technology on one container-based platform, bringing together all of the legacy core signalling functions, whether it’s an STP [signalling transfer point] or a firewall or an HSS [home subscriber server] or whatever. We are not ‘just’ delivering a cloud-native 5G solution, but one that enables interworking with, and support of, legacy infrastructure. We will continue to support TITAN for our customers – we foresee a natural migration over a period of time as infrastructure migrations occur, so we will keep application parity on both platforms. AT: What about 5G? SL: Of course, our customers are looking to 5G, so our first 5G applications will be routing, security and subscriber data management components, which we are rolling out now as proof of concept. The first phase includes the SCP [service communication proxy] and the SEPP [security edge protection proxy], plus the NSSF [network slice selection function], the NRF [NF repository functions] and BSF [binding support function] – they are really the infrastructure functions – along with the UDSF [unstructured data storage function]. At the moment we offer HSS and HLR [home location register] on our TITAN platform with a common AuC [authentication centre] and SDM [subscriber data management] back end. We find that customers who are looking to transition HLR to HSS can get a lot of value out of our architecture because of the shared AuC and SDM components. For the second phase of the 5G subscriber data management functions, we will be offering the UDM [unified data management], UDR [unified data repository] and AUSF [authentication server function]. So by bringing the 5G subscriber data management components onto the same platform, you’ll have that span from 3G to 5G on TITAN.IUM. AT: What prompted you to create TITAN.IUM? SL: While there’s so much discussion about 5G and the wonderful new use cases it will support, there has been far less talk about how, in parallel with the move from 3G to 4G, the core network has been decentralising, a trend that will be both accelerated and amplified by 5G and edge computing. Automation enabled by orchestration, not the piecemeal virtualisation we have now, is the only way to gain the promised benefits of 5G, which are greater coverage, higher capacity, lower latency, better reliability and faster speeds at less cost. Automation is essential in the 5G core network because of the huge number of container-based microservices involved in its implementation and deployment, and their corresponding network functions. The management of the 5G network at the microservice level can no longer be done manually, and requires the support of orchestration and automation tools, and frameworks. Additionally, decentralising the core introduces new issues, particularly for use cases dependent on low latency and rapid scalability. We were already thinking about these issues when a customer brought a low-latency use case to us which really made us focus on them. The customer wanted to deploy a set of firewalls across a large geographic

area and resolve a particular threat vector in less than 20 milliseconds. The speed of light was the problem, as the optical network consumes 17 of those 20 milliseconds for transmission, leaving us with 3 milliseconds for resolution at two ends of a large national network. It was clear that none of the database technologies on the market were up to replicating the data that fast. It was also clear that this kind of problem would occur more frequently as the core becomes more distributed. When you’ve got data for things like policies, subscribers and sessions living in the same data centre, within a few racks of each other and all cabled up, that’s great. When you’ve got elements spread over continents or around the world, then things don’t perform the same and scalability takes on a different meaning in this context. To address these scenarios our customers require a toolbox of solutions that enable them to solve these new challenges with a set of capabilities that can evolve with their changing needs. A big part of that is providing data replication and management solutions that leverage technologies developed specifically to address these types of challenges. We combine both data pipeline and database technologies to solve these challenges. AT: What are data pipelines and how do they solve the data replication problem? SL: If there is anything that network functions virtualisation (NFV) has taught the telecoms industry, it’s don’t create a bespoke, sector-specific solution when a proven, general-purpose one exists. Apache Kafka is exactly that: it’s an open-source, stream-processing software platform, originally developed by LinkedIn back in 2010, and donated to the Apache Software Foundation. Its purpose is to provide a unified, high-throughput, low-latency platform for handling real-time data feeds using pipelines. Pipeline technology is almost ubiquitous – for example, it’s used in many common web-scale applications – yet it remains little known outside the people who work in that part of applications. We have a super-dedicated group of people that are very deep in the part of the network that we build product for, and our own programme has provided invaluable learning to get this type of essential tooling right. As we were moving towards the launch of TITAN.IUM, we talked to our customers about these issues, which confirmed just how in step this thinking was with them. As well as echoing the challenges around distributed architectures, many were also saying, “NFV is not delivering what we thought it would. We need the next step,” although NFV taught the industry a lot and it would not be so well positioned to move to cloud native without it. Last November we received our first RFP that wanted extraordinary detail about CI/CD [continuous integration and continuous delivery] tooling integration into a container-based platform and we’re seeing that interest grow. Although I don’t think we’ll see many deployments until the middle of 2021, it’s rising up operators’ agendas. NetNumber grasped that we should only spend development budget on the things that make us different, or that can’t be solved or haven’t been solved elsewhere. The telecoms industry in general needs to take that view of the world. AT: How did you respond once you had really understood the implications? SL: We realised we needed to shift to Agile and implement much deeper

Q2 2020 •



Sponsored Interview: Netnumber

levels of automation across our own business in the interests of speed, quality, consistency and scalability. At the start of 2019, we set out to transition our business to Agile practices over a two-year period. We audited all our tooling and rationalised it down to about a quarter of the original number, and once everyone was using the same tooling and the same processes, we saw significant efficiency improvements. Internally, Agile operations take care of the inbound work from the customer or from the field into development. Getting the product from development into the field is DevOps’ role with the tooling. For our customers, Agile delivers not only a software product, but our highly skilled and knowledgeable people, the processes, the tooling, and simple integration with their systems. Our transition has gone well and we are about three-quarters of the way through, ahead of schedule. Heavy investment in DevOps has enabled us to automate development, testing and more, which has brought huge benefits. Leveraging web-scale processes, tooling and technologies internally has had a very positive impact on our business, and likewise the adoption of web-scale technologies in TITAN.IUM has a similar complementary effect. AT: Telecoms tends to think it has specialised needs – surely that is a big leap? SL: It is and it’s not. We recognise that every one of our customers has a different infrastructure and is in a unique position regarding what they have implemented, and their business and operational priorities. Moving to cloud-native needs to be in steps and in the way that best

Q2 2020 •

suits each one of them. This is not just about the applications themselves: operators need a comprehensive set of tools that will allow them to continue to re-architect their network as they require. Over time, we think their steps will become much more frequent. It won’t be the five to seven-year timeframe that we saw with the introduction of earlier generations of mobile technology, but weeks or days as everything moves to being software defined and controlled. This means that the toolkit we provide to help our customers must address many things – and we need to be able to support all of them in a way that makes sense, both today and tomorrow. We don’t want to leave anything or anyone behind, but make sure they can leverage the benefits of cloud-native tooling and infrastructure for what they have now and what they will build. Experience has taught us that new networks come and old networks don’t die, and that new technology turns into legacy very quickly. AT: Can you describe the TITAN.IUM platform? SL: TITAN.IUM is a cloud-native, container-based solution that brings forward all of the legacy protocol stacks and applications from the TITAN platform and integrates these into the new solution that also supports 5G. TITAN.IUM leverages Kubernetes-based container orchestration and a cloud-native software stack that allows us to support VM [virtual machines], NFV, and cloud-native, multi-cloud environments. TITAN.IUM’s atomic elements that make up the solution are signalling processes and data brokers, and we communicate between them with data pipelines. Just to be clear, the data pipelines don’t replace the

Sponsored Interview: Netnumber

in-memory database for the signalling processor, which is integral to the TITAN platform and has been updated for TITAN.IUM, to ensure the extremely high performance it is known for. Data pipelines are straightforward and organised into ‘topics’ which I picture as being like small pipes running inside big pipes. You can produce and consume as many topics as you like, and produce to any topic consumed from any other topic. The data brokers manage that production and consumption, and the signalling processes write and read as appropriate. We deployed this solution for a couple of Tier #1 customers last year with a pre-release version of TITAN.IUM, although not with the cloud-native pieces because they weren’t ready for it, so we know just how well it works. TITAN.IUM provides our customers with a powerful InterGENerationalTM multi-cloud platform that enables network and service migration for all generations of core network infrastructure across any virtualisation, NFV or cloud-native infrastructure. It gives them the option of having all SS7, Diameter, SIP, DNS, HTTP and HTTP2 (5G) signalling components in a cloud-native architecture. AT: What are the other advantages? SL: Using data pipelines for elements to communicate with each other also means you can cluster the container-based elements – the building blocks of the distributed core architecture – and arrange them as you like. Customers can evolve the architecture in a very flexible way, over time, to suit their changing needs. Importantly, these building blocks can be deployed in any type of compute environment, whether it’s cloud native or VM or NFV – we will have these mixed environments for the next few years. From a resource-separation standpoint, the components do what they’re meant to without being weighed down by having to sub-tend to other things like element management or analytics. The data pipelines provide all that connectivity. A major advantage of using Kafka for our pipelines is there’s a huge ecosystem of open source components out there that work with it, such as

Elastic Search, which plugs in natively to Kafka and we use it as our analytics solution. Kafka’s ecosystem includes tracing, filtering, searching and more, which in previous solutions we’d have built ourselves. Now our customers get all of that functionality out of the box, as well as being able to easily integrate into solutions they may already have or are looking to implement. It’s a very different world for us in terms of putting our products together with these building blocks as well as for our customers consuming the solutions. AT: We’ve covered a lot of ground here, can you summarise why TITAN.IUM is such a big deal? SL: For operators, TITAN.IUM provides the performance and scale needed for 5G while ensuring network and service evolution from 3G and 4G. Its unique architecture enables us to provide our customers with a containerised solution, regardless of where they are in their journey and the continuum of their infrastructure, so from here they will not have to rip and replace. Automated workflows are critical for 5G, but they also unlock the economic benefits promised by NFV for prior generations of networks. We are bringing together the legacy network components with 5G applications into a solution that is infrastructure agnostic. Who would ever have thought we’d be putting an SS7 stack into a container to automate the STP lifecycle? We wanted to achieve an infrastructure-independent solution as even if you’ve made the investment in NFV, we want to deliver this into your VM infrastructure, because with Kubernetes orchestration you get the benefits of the real application automation there. And then as you step into a fully cloud-native solution, it’s a less complex transition. From our point of view, it’s all about architecting for the future – we deliver elements in a way that if orchestration shifts from Kubernetes to something else, we will be able to work with it. Similarly, it could be that Kafka is overtaken by something else for the pipelines, but our architecture has left the door open so we can be very flexible and adapt to new architectures and tooling as it evolves.

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10 CTO ??????? Interview

Vodafone UK’s CTO:

How to run a national network from employees’ homes


cott Petty has been CTO of Vodafone UK since February 2018 and at the company for over 11 years. Prior to becoming CTO, he was Group Enterprise Technology Director. He spoke to Annie Turner in mid-April. Inevitably the impact of Covid-19 is the initial topic of conversation. Says Petty, “We have achieved things we’d previously have thought impossible. We had to move to 100% remote working for all our engineers and operational staff. With the exception of a handful of key security and NOC [network operation centre] staff, we are running the network 100% from people’s homes.” He isn’t just referring to the day-to-day stuff either, but also, “Some scheduled operational changes such as lifecycle management and big upgrades”. A measure of how well these new operational practices have worked is that once the pandemic has receded, they could have longer term implications concerning the number, function and location of buildings needed by the operator, as well as for network design. Petty muses, “Maybe instead of having two full redundancy centres in case of a network failure, we could have one with the other contingency fallback being remote working by staff.” Being prepared Given the scale, scope and speed of this undertaking, how did Vodafone do it? The short answer is prescience and preparation. Petty says, “We were fortunate in tracking Covid-19 from its early days when Wuhan [where the outbreak began in China] shut down. We looked at the impact on supply chain there, then looked at every division of Vodafone and what it could mean. Then in January we trialed some teams working from home for a day. Then in February that extended to all teams for two days to figure out how it could work and what was needed.” Petty says those days were invaluable for making adequate preparations and understanding what was needed. This included doubling the capacity for the NHS 111 advisory service, which Vodafone UK runs, so that it could deal with 2,400 calls simultaneously, and expanding the capacity of a government call centre, which was expected to experience peak traffic as people applied for state aid. In addition, all the CTOs across the Vodafone Group were in touch with the CTOs in Italy and Spain, countries which were ahead of the rest of Europe regarding the spread of the virus, and they were able to provide valuable insights. The week before lockdown (which began on 23 March in the UK), 50% of the company’s employees worked from home to check the right capacity was in the right places and that Vodafone had got its process models right. For some staff, such as those who work in retail and contact centres, and network engineers, this was a completely new way of working. Lesson and changes What did Vodafone learn from this experience and what would it do differently now? Petty says that when testing its business continuity plan (BCP) the company quickly realised it had only half the number of laptops required for retail and contact centre staff (all others already had laptops), but it had time to address the issue. He says the aspect the company could have focused more on, with hindsight, was fine-tuning connectivity to employees’ homes, ensuring their Wi-Fi was working

Issue Q2 2020 Q4••

CTO Interview 11

Vodafone making use of a disused phone box to provide 4G to remote and rural areas such as Sennen Cove, Cornwall, in the far south-west of England

optimally and that they had everything they needed. “Some changes from this period will become the way we work,” he notes. “People who previously didn’t accept remote working will now: when you just have some people working from home one day a week, say, it’s hard to see how effective it is, but it provides more flexibility and options.” He adds, “For instance, contact centre staff normally come into a place of work and do an eight-hour shift. If they continue to work from home they can do a three- or five-hour shift, perhaps.” Petty says Vodafone is acutely aware that getting rid of commuting has a “massive” environmental impact, as well as saving people the time, money and stress involved in travel, but he emphasises that not everyone is suited to homeworking and especially not all the time. Another issue for many is the lack of workspace at home and everyone agrees that digital exchanges are not a complete replacement for face-to-face engagement. Business not as usual The second remarkable aspect of Vodafone’s response to the crisis is that the network has proved more than equal to what has been asked of it: mobile Internet traffic has increased by 30% and mobile voice traffic by 42% – the sort the sort of growth the operator would normally expect over the space of a year.

However, volume was not the only issue. Petty explains, “The shape of the network changed as people started working from home. The hotspots shifted, for example, away from central London to the suburbs close to the M25 [the motorway which rings the capital]. “There were spikes in different kinds of traffic. In the early days, voice traffic rose by 50% as people bombarded call centres run by Vodafone, such as the NHS 111 emergency line and other government departments.” Vodafone also runs contact centres for travel companies and airlines, which likewise were inundated with calls from people needing to book or change travel arrangements. He continues, “After something like two weeks, we reached the ‘new normal’ and things stabilised, so we are now looking at rises in traffic of 2% or 3% daily, which is a still a lot, but it’s not ‘panic stations’.” Vodafone’s business customers were facing terrific upheaval, too, as those that could switched their employees to homeworking. Petty says, “Every company is different in terms of emergency business capabilities, and their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Many did not have the right capacity in the right places and, in particular, we needed to ensure that critical infrastructure – such as for hospitals – had enough capacity, fast. For the time being, we waived the usual process of purchase orders and so on and just got on with it.” Vodafone has now arrived at the ‘new normal’ for business customers too.

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12 CTO Interview

At Vodafone UK’s 5G launch in July last year, Juan De Jongh (wearing a full-body Tesla haptic suit) instantaneously felt the impact of a rugby tackle made by Wasps team mate Will Rowlands who was over 100 miles away

Network performance Petty says, “We are very pleased with the network’s performance”. Through investing billions of pounds, the operator has built a converged core – RedStream – over the last five years. It is virtualised, and built on optical and IP technologies, relying on rerouting and massive in-built redundancy to keep the network running, even if parts of it fail. That also means capacity can be switched from one part of the network to another as required and, of course, as Petty stresses, all with the right levels of security and management, which are critical. The network has been developed with 5G in mind, and so has enough resilience and flexibility, and will be upgraded from 1Gbps access and a 10Gbps core to 10Gbps access and 100Gbps core. Going cloud-native The plan is to move to a cloud-native (containerised) infrastructure and Vodafone Group took a big interim step towards that goal in April when it announced that, working with VMWare, it had completed the roll-out of network virtual infrastructure (NVI) across all its European businesses – 21 markets in total. This means Vodafone has a single digital network architecture across its European markets, which, according to the operator’s own internal analysis and reporting in March, enables the operator to design, build, test and deploy next-generation functions more securely and around 40% faster. Petty observes, “We’re about halfway through our journey to being cloud-native. The first step was virtualisation, then virtualisation with some orchestration, which is where we are now, and then we’ll move on to containerisation and orchestration.” He says the collaboration with VMWare is “critical for 5G standalone (see page 34), with very useful management tools”. The move to containerisation is probably 18 months to two years away, depending on some

Q2 2020 •

legacy technologies, for example; how fast the 3G network is closed down and its spectrum recycled. In the RAN The UK has also been at the vanguard of Vodafone’s wider pioneering work regarding the radio access network (RAN), which accounts for about 70% of mobile networks’ infrastructure, through the OpenRAN initiative. This is part of the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP), which was started by Facebook in 2016 to reduce the cost and complexity of access equipment. In October 2019 the operator announced it had initiated the first European trials of Open Radio Access Networks (OpenRAN) in the UK, building on what it had learned from trials in Turkey and South Africa. The UK trials were so successful that less than a month later Vodafone Group launched an OpenRAN tender across its entire European network. Petty says that in the RAN it had become less and less possible to swap components for those from another vendor and, “We cannot deploy 5G non-standalone on different vendors’ 4G, therefore the move to more openness. We are also constrained in our choice by geo-political concerns.” This is a diplomatic allusion to the ongoing international row surrounding Huawei and security issues, among other things. He concludes, “We need a bigger ecosystem of vendors.” Supply chain concerns He stresses that Vodafone UK has no Huawei equipment in its core network and that swapping out Huawei equipment is eminently “doable” over a reasonable amount of time, say five years. However, he reiterates that if the operator is obliged to strip out equipment from the Chinese vendor more rapidly, “It would cost hundreds of millions of pounds.” Petty also points out that if Western markets are closed to Chinese

CTO Interview 13

equipment makers, which contribute massively to R&D across Europe, the worry is that, “Then we could all go back to different parts of the world and have different equipment for different places like 15 years ago. Scale is critical because otherwise everything is more expensive.” He says Vodafone UK is working with various authorities “to strike a balance and create a model. The fragmentation of the industry into geographical zones would be detrimental to everyone, no matter where you are in the world.” Those authorities include the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), the telecom regulator Ofcom and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK’s intelligence and security agency. A shifting centre of gravity? Much has been made in some quarters of the ‘Germanification’ of the Vodafone Group after it acquired Liberty Global’s operations in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania for €18.4 billion last year. What did the UK’s CTO make of that? Sounding unmoved, Petty says, “The German market is very different from the UK, more federal, and the UK has much better wholesale arrangements. We are very pleased with the performance of our [fixed] broadband.” Vodafone UK has a long-standing partnership with alternative fibre infrastructure supplier CityFibre, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, and Petty adds that his company has a good relationship with Openreach, the access branch of BT. He says that Vodafone “wholeheartedly embraces convergence, from our converged core to bundled products, such as family propositions, and convergence between fixed and mobile infrastructure and services.” He notes that satellite is also coming into play for the public, Workers lay gigabitcapable fibre optics

as well as so-called over the top and streaming services: in March Vodafone announced it had invested $25 million (€23.07 million) in Texas-based satellite manufacturer AST & Science’s space-based network, becoming the lead investor, alongside Japan’s Rakuten Inc. The venture plans to provide mobile connectivity from space to boost 4G and 5G coverage – and here’s the real kicker – without users needing a specialised handset. In December last year, the UK operator announced that the Vodafone Together package would now offer unlimited fixed broadband, unlimited mobile data and Apple TV 4K from £54 (€62) a month, as well as Apple TV+ and BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5. However, Petty is keen to stress that although Vodafone’s game plan is to offer converged services, it recognises that a minority of customers do not want to buy bundled products and services, and this minority must be catered for. Leading the IoT charge Petty says that Vodafone’s global IT platform enables it to offer “a really exciting and broad range of business”. For instance, it has 100 million connected IoT devices, and recently added new technology to support NB-IoT and to better tune and manage IoT traffic flows. In November 2019, Vodafone, the world’s biggest IoT service provider, acquired German developer Grandcentrix and thereby extended its value chain in the multi-industry sector. Grandcentrix’s Cellular Twin IoT solution is acknowledged as one of the fastest low-cost ways to digitalise and network almost any product or application in high volume (100,000 units and up), including for doors, soap dispensers, elevators, power tools and industrial machines, to name but a few. In April this year, Vodafone signed an IoT roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and Telia Company. Petty reckons that, “5G will lead to a massive explosion in IoT infrastructure as a service [IaaS] and allow us to provide greater coverage with the cost of carrying traffic much lower.” Covid-19 restart So what is Petty’s single most immediate concern? “Keeping our field engineers safe” is his instant reply. He is referring to attacks on Vodafone’s field workforce and antenna towers, such as that providing connectivity to the massive, temporary Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham. The reason – or excuse – for the attacks is the bogus claim that 5G causes and spreads coronavirus. Ironically, that particular mast in Birmingham didn’t even have 5G equipment on it. Will Vodafone UK’s 5G deployment be slowed by the pandemic? The operator has stepped up to the plate to support its customers and staff in ways too numerous to mention, and its actions to support the NHS make inspiring reading, but that has all been expensive. Petty says, “Right now, the intention is to continue as planned.” He acknowledges that at the moment access to sites to install equipment is more difficult, but he is hopeful that the economic damage done by the pandemic might be short-lived, with much depending on companies’ economic strategies and financial positions as they emerge from the crisis. He says the financial impact by sector is unclear, but believes some companies will come out of it better placed to operate in the new environment, while others will be cash-strapped and will struggle to adapt.

Q2 2020 •

14 Sponsored Interview: MYCOM OSI

How to accelerate 5G roll-out Andrew Baldock, Product Marketing, MYCOM OSI


rom launching the first city-wide 5G network to creating network slices to monetise new enterprise services, the roll-out of 5G is about more than base stations and devices. It’s not enough to just ‘deploy 5G’, there is a whole roll-out lifecycle. However, while the race to 5G is global, no two CSPs are alike. Each market and every CSP is at a different point in their 5G lifecycle. The challenge for operators therefore is to identify, enable and execute a tailored business roll-out plan. The 5G race is on For most CSPs, 5G is not a greenfield. It is operating in a cross-domain environment, where services and users are handing over between 5G and pre-5G networks. All this makes the complexity of roll-out, launch and operations the greater; CSPs must balance the pressure to deploy new 5G services rapidly with the imperative not to compromise their existing customers’ service quality. As these 5G deployments gather pace, CSPs are in a race to be first to launch basic services in their market. However, often their assurance systems are not 5G-ready and they can’t afford the delay and complexity of implementing new ones. CSPs need to focus on their 5G network and service launch and simply activate essential 5G assurance capabilities quickly and cost-effectively. And they need to do all this with zero-to-minimal internal risk while keeping an eye on future revenue streams. The 5G roll-out lifecycle So, what steps can CSPs take to accelerate the roll-out of 5G across the full lifecycle? 1. L aunching 5G – from validating the configurations of 5G sites, to ensure they are as

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where CSPs operate dynamic network slice orchestration, driven by assurance of SLA and QoS (the ‘5G promise’) to unlock and monetise these

planned, to certifying that they are running as expected, CSPs must improve the reliability and speed of site acceptance. They should also continually audit sites to check 5G RAN configurations are within expected parameter metrics to maintain optimal performance 2. ‘ Business-as-usual’ 5G – once live, the next (and ongoing) challenge is to monitor the KPI performance of the 5G network and simultaneously manage 5G and pre-5G customer experiences. Given the real-time nature of the processes supporting this, it’s critical that CSPs’ NOC/SOC teams have powerful dashboards that provide a visualisation of the entire 5G network 3. Th e 5G future – The big promise of 5G isn’t simply faster mobile broadband, but rather the opening up of new revenue streams in an ever-expanding list of verticals, which all have their own unique connectivity and service requirements. The future is one

Why the cloud holds the key to accelerating 5G roll-out The competitive pressure on CSPs to rapidly launch and operate 5G networks and services while still delivering on the promise of faster connectivity and protecting quality of service for existing customers is significant. However, business-critical service assurance systems represent a considerable bottleneck to this roll-out. Deploying traditional service assurance solutions typically takes 6 to 18 months or more and represents a big investment. This is not an option in today’s ultra-competitive market. In contrast, a cloud-native service-assurance SaaS offering for CSPs launching 5G services can be deployed and scaled on-demand. It is ready to ingest data within one hour and pre-integrated with most 5G of the radio equipment that has been operationalised, which leads to completely eliminating both management of infrastructure and CapEx. As the pace of 5G service launches increases, CSPs are rapidly scaling up their 5G networks. Accelerating 5G roll-out is not just about being first to launch, it’s also about delivering differentiated quality of service (QoS) in the 5G experience, both compared to pre-5G and 5G services of competitors today and in the future.

16 ???????

In the spotlight:

Jan Hruška, CTO, O2 Czech Republic Jan Hruška has worked at O2 Czech Republic for 16 years and as CTO for the last two and a half.

The operator has almost 8 million mobile and fixed access subscribers, which ranks it among the leaders for converged services in Europe. The majority of the company’s shares has been held by the Czech investment group PPF since January 2014.

What is the biggest issue on your mind right now? One of toughest challenges ahead of us is how to efficiently modernise our IT architecture to support truly agile methods. We know what should be done technically, but the biggest issues are how to deliver the transformation alongside competing commercial priorities and how to build a positive business case with reasonably short payback.

Which person most influenced your career? My first boss in a small consulting company, which I joined right after university, many years ago. He provided me with the core wisdom of personal energy management: focus on stuff that you can really influence, don’t waste your time on things you cannot change, and always make sure that you understand which is which. There are many versions of this, but probably the first one was Aeschylus, the ancient Greek who was the first to write tragedies and lived about 500 BC.

What is the most important lesson you have learned professionally? It is from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. When the Prince visits a planet with only a King living on it, the King asks, an open or rhetorical question along the lines of, “If the ruler orders his subordinate to do something that the subordinate cannot accomplish, whose fault is it?”.

What’s the biggest obstacle to 5G’s success and how will you overcome it? Establishing a positive business case. Many slides have been produced on the subject of B2B use cases for 5G, but none is close to being seen in reality. I believe the right approach is not to rush; we experienced a similar situation with 4G eight years ago. One possible starting point is hotspot coverage for fixed wireless access, in high capacity bands (that is, C-band and above), to complement fibre to the premises or cabinet (FTTx) and DSL internet

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connections where “wired” connectivity is too expensive or takes too long a time to deploy.

How you think telecoms will change after the Covid-19 pandemic? I consider the last three months as an extraordinary lesson that impacted our professional and private life so much that they are not going to be the same anymore. Telecoms proved an essential role in digital age – the need for quality home internet connection to enable families’ remote working, learning and entertainment. We also experienced growth in mobile data consumption, and even mobile and landline calling. Where we have to change so we can face this kind of challenge even better is our distribution. Our commercial performance still is mostly driven by physical shops that were paralysed by significant decline in customer traffic. We have learnt how to connect shop assistants to telemarketing campaigns and also increased our digital transactions. Even B2B interactions of sales representatives via online video calls were eventually more productive. All this accelerated our digital transformation.

What do you consider your greatest professional achievement? The best – the good stuff – is whenever you build an environment that supports innovation, where people really want to contribute, so no push is needed: you can just inspire and help. Maybe the greatest one is yet to come!

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the telecoms industry? Flat data plans. We are lucky to run business where demand is growing in double digits – I mean for data consumption – but customers expect to pay the same or less, so we have to keep thinking about how to increase the capacity in our networks, without spending more money, to maintain our margins. And the game keeps running: after you accomplish one level, there is always the next one ahead.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? Men approaching 50 usually buy motorbikes, run marathons or change their spouse. I opted for running marathons.

5G Insight report

18 Readership survey: Graeme Neill analyses our readership survey on 5G and notes some significant changes since the previous year

24 Keys to the kingdom: OpenRAN seeks to break vendor lock-in

OpenRAN’s momentum is developing rapidly. Will its mainstream adoption spell the end of an era for incumbent vendors? Graeme Neill reports.

30 How 5G is both less and more secure than previous networks

Kate O’Flaherty asks how secure 5G is really and what’s being done to address vulnerabilities?

30 Enterprise networks: the battle for eminence at the edge

Public cloud companies are allying with operators, as well as readying to compete against them. This is a critical time for telcos, writes Annie Turner.

34 Covid-19 drives to the core of 5G issues How will the pandemic delay the deployment of standalone? Regulators and governments need to rethink their approach in the wake of Covid-19 argues Annie Turner

18 Insight ???????Report: 5G

2020 5G reader survey: smart factories and cities appeal but where are the infrastructure and business models? In the last year, 5G has emerged from the fog of hype into the comparative normality of the marketplace, but respondents feel there are still a number of serious concerns about the technology, writes Graeme Neill.

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Insight Report: 5G 19


he GSMA said in March that 5G is offered by 46 operators in 24 markets. It estimates one in five mobile connections will be on a 5G network by 2025. However, respondents* to our readership 2020 5G survey think that 5G will be much harder to deploy than previous generations of networks and they are

concerned that the financials – let alone the infrastructure to support it – aren’t convincing. There are also worries about security, which we investigate in a separate article on page 28. Three-quarters of respondents (75%) placed the technology firmly in the enterprise, as opposed to consumer (25%), space highlighting public/private networks, smart factories and smart cities as the use cases likeliest to go live first.

Biggest country markets Respondents chose Germany as the market that will become the continent’s 5G leader. Deutsche Telekom (DT) has been particularly aggressive (and vocal) in its home market with plans to expand its 5G network to half of the German population by the end of 2020. Nevertheless, it was rival Vodafone that last year launched 5G first in Germany.

Which European market will be the continent’s leader for 5G (respondents were asked to choose one)? Germany 25.41% United Kingdom 20.49% Finland 13.93% Sweden 13.11% Switzerland 10.66% Other 7.38% Spain 4.10% Italy 3.28% France 1.64%

Which 5G use cases will be most appealing (respondents could tick any that applied)? Smart cities 68.03% Smart factories 66.39% Public and private 5G campus networks 59.02% Transport 55.74% Digital health 54.92% AR/VR entertainment (including gaming) 50.82% Enterprise AR/VR 34.43% Smart grid/energy management 33.61% Smart home 24.59% Other 8.20%

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20 Insight Report: 5G

Which of the above services are likely to be deployed first (respondents could tick any that applied)? Public and private 5G campus networks 49.18% Smart factories 42.62% Smart cities 37.70% AR/VR entertainment (including gaming) 31.97% Digital health 21.31% Smart home 20.49% Smart grid/energy management 15.57% Transport 13.11%

Do operators know what their enterprise customers want from 5G (respondents were asked to choose one answer)?

Enterprise AR/VR 9.84% Other 5.74%

They have some understanding 62.30% Customers don’t know what they want 17.21% No 9.02% Yes 8.20% Don’t know 3.28%

DT aims to extend its 5G network to 10 million Germans by the end of this year and plans to double that by the end of 2021. DT and Vodafone were also identified by respondents as the pan-European leaders in 5G, polling 24% and 29% respectively. Those mentioned most in the ‘other’ category were Elisa Finland, Sunrise Communications, Swisscom, Telenor, Three UK and TIM (the order is not significant). Enterprising use cases Respondents overwhelmingly felt that enterprises afforded operators the greatest growth opportunity for 5G, on a scale of three to one. The GSMA agrees and said in March that 5G will be the “first generation in the history of mobile to have a bigger impact on enterprise than consumers”. The finding contrasts with

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5G will be the first generation in the history of mobile to have a bigger impact on enterprise than customers

last year’s survey, where 58% of respondents said they expected operators to target both consumers and enterprises in equal measure. This can be explained by an increasingly dizzying array of potential within the enter-

prise sphere. Smart cities (cited by 68% of respondents) and smart factories (66%) were deemed the most appealing, but more than half of respondents also earmarked public and private 5G campus networks (59%), transport (56%) and digital health (55%) as in-demand 5G use cases. This is broadly in line with the 2019 survey, but campus networks have increased in popularity as awareness of their potential has grown. However, the differences between the use cases identified by respondents as the most appealing did not align closely with those they felt would be deployed first, possibly reflecting prioritising return on investment. Smart factories and campuses were identified by respondents as the 5G networks to be deployed first. One such example is in Belgium, where Orange announced it is setting

Insight Report: 5G 21

up an intelligent manufacturing network at the Atlas Copco Airpower factory. Wouter Ceulemans, President of the Airtec division, Atlas Copco, says, “The factory of the future will be a lot more autonomous, automated and intelligent.” ABI Research anticipates that the smart manufacturing market will be worth $1 trillion (€920 billion) by 2030; little wonder many operators are pursuing that rather than consumers for now. How well do operators understand what enterprise customers need? Respondents were mostly optimistic, given we are in the early days with 5G and standalone is new territory

for everyone or, as one respondent put it, “It’s a two-way thing; operators have this powerful new technology… that can offer many things and with ‘some’ understanding of the world beyond being just an operator… “Likewise, industry – utilities (energy, hydro, solar, gas-fired power), [manufacturing], transport etc – understand their own fields 100% and are only now learning what 5G can do for them, based only on what the operators are saying. And yet, there is a knowledge gap as to all the opportunities that can eventually benefit from 5G, so time will tell.”

Most overrated opportunity Given the consensus among respondents that operators are focusing on enterprises, it is no surprise that 40% of them thought a major consumer use case – the smart home – was the most overrated. It seems operators are no closer to developing the ‘killer applications’ for 5G that made 2G to 4G compelling for consumers, despite attempts with augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). Cynicism about operators using 5G in the smart home comes in spite of high-profile initiatives from the likes of Telefónica. The Spanish telco launched a new global unit in

Which of these use cases is the most overrated (respondents could tick any that applied)? Smart home 40.16% Digital health 27.05% AR/VR entertainment (including gaming) 24.59% Enterprise AR/VR 23.77% Smart cities 20.49% Smart factories 17.21% Transport 17.21% Smart grid/energy management 14.75% Public and private 5G campus networks 12.30% Other 5.74%

Will 5G networks be harder to deploy than other networks (respondents were asked to choose one answer)? Moderately harder 31.97% Much harder 31.15% Somewhat harder 22.95% Not harder at all 8.20% Don’t know 5.74%

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22 Insight Report: 5G

January aiming firmly at the smart home by creating a ‘fourth platform’ underpinned by its Aura digital assistant and integrating a range of products and services. Respondents’ concerns are in line with the findings of Mobile Europe|European Communications’ 2019 5G survey, which found only 20% of companies were interested in the smart home as a 5G use case (compared to smart cities, which was in first place at 55%). This suggests continued scepticism at operators’ ability to deliver consumer innovation, a point underlined by AR/VR being the third most overrated technology.

Aura is very much the exception among operator-built digital assistants – Orange had to delay the launch of its djingo service and consumers are more inclined to opt for Amazon, Apple or Google. Digital health was the second most overrated use case (27%). While it is true that smart health has yet to take off and there have been many failed attempts at deployment, this could well change in the wake of the pandemic if hyperscale players get involved to improve the economics. For example, at the end of May, Google announced the general availability of its Cloud Healthcare API to facilitate the

exchange of healthcare data between solutions built on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and applications (also see page 33). Trouble ahead? 5G may generate new revenues for operators, but our respondents felt the road won’t be an easy one – and that’s before most were in a position to take Covid-19 into consideration – with 63% saying deployment of 5G would be moderately or much harder than previous generations. One reader summed up the issues facing operators: “What needs to happen in deploying the physical network is not the

What are the biggest obstacles to successful 5G deployments (respondents could tick any that applied)? Insufficient infrastructure 55.74% Business models 51.64% CapEx pressures 45.08% Lack of devices 29.51% Spectrum availability 27.87% Lack of fibre 22.95% Geopolitical concerns over infrastructure providers 22.95% Security 22.13% Complexity of running next generation networks 18.85% Uncertainty about where to prioritise 17.21% Lack of access to sites 16.39% Health concerns 15.57% Lack of internal skills 15.57% Over-zealous regulation 13.93% Standardisation eg 3GPP 12.30% Threats from OTT players 9.84% Roaming 8.20% Lack of internal support 4.92% Other (please specify) 4.92%

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Insight Report: 5G 23

Which of the major vendors is pioneering in 5G research and deployment (respondents were asked to choose one answer)? Huawei 54.10% Ericsson 31.15% Nokia 8.20% Other (please specify) 6.56%

issue; what makes it harder is ensuring operators are using the right equipment in the first place and, where this has not happened, it must be changed.” According to respondents, the main problems are insufficient infrastructure (cited by 56%), uncertain business models (52%) and CapEx pressures (45%). For some time European operators have been drawing attention to what they see as the overly zealous regulation which is holding them back, while the lightly regulated likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple fill the operators’ networks without sharing the revenues. Difficult deployments, lack of supporting infrastructure and tough regulation are three reasons to be fearful for operators’ bottom lines – and that’s before the full extent of the economic fallout from Covid-19 is felt. The International Monetary Fund expects the world economy to contract by 3% by the end of 2020, a far bigger decline than that resulting from the 2008 financial crisis. The best-case scenario is that the pandemic declines in the second half of 2020 and there is a swift return to ‘normality’, which could result in 5.8% growth next year. However, that assumes no second-wave infection, countries acting in lockstep with a coherent test-and-trace strategy (which has not happened so far) and the discovery (and wide application of) a vaccine. Lack of infrastructure If respondents were already concerned about the lack of 5G network hardware in place –

as well as the lack of ubiquity of the equally essential Wi-Fi, 4G and most especially fibre that is needed to create the 5G network of networks – and financial uncertainty, the year ahead could compound matters. Enterprises are seen as the cash cow for 5G, but they could become risk averse.

5G may generate new revenues for operators, but the road won’t be an easy one

On the consumer front, Apple may choose to delay its first 5G devices, which were widely expected to launch in autumn 2020. The iPhone 5 launch in 2012 turbocharged the LTE consumer boom and could do the same for 5G. There are also issues around the sourcing of components due to the buffeting of supply chains, for example as a result of the escalation of the Sino-American trade war. In May, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, Xu Zhijun, described 2019 as a year of “unprecedented challenges” and warned of a more complicated environment ahead. President Trump’s most recent executive order banning US companies from selling to

Huawei and ZTE was extended in May until 2021 and was specifically designed to prevent giving access to their chipsets. However, most of Europe (the UK aside, in a policy reversal) has not followed the US’ lead and our reader survey has found Huawei’s reputation for telco innovation is undimmed, with more than 50% of respondents dubbing it a technological pioneer. Worryingly for Nokia, respondents are paying attention to its falling R&D budgets and only 8% identified it as a 5G innovator. Mavenir, Cisco and OpenRAN companies were cited most commonly among the ‘other’. There are also delays to spectrum auctions, which we have already seen in France, Spain, Austria and Poland, and more could follow. Despite all these anxieties, our findings reveal a sliver of optimism. If smart cities, smart factories and campus networks are the three most exciting 5G use cases, they are also solutions that could change people’s ways of living and working, and operators are well placed to capitalise on them – but they need to do it quickly (see article on page 31), because they are not the only players in town. *We conducted this readership survey between March and April 2020. Of the 122 respondents, 34% were network operators, 24% vendors and the remaining 42% were from the likes of consultancies, systems integrators, analysts and regulators. Just under 80% of respondents were from Europe, 8% from Asia-Pacific, 6% from both Middle East and Africa, and North America, and the remainder from South America.

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24 Insight ???????Report: 5G

Keys to the kingdom: OpenRAN seeks to break open vendor lock-in With Vodafone’s support and growing excitement about the tech, OpenRAN’s momentum is developing rapidly. Will its mainstream adoption spell the end of an era for incumbent vendors or is the technology too immature to meet customers’ demands? Graeme Neill reports.

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Insight Report: 5G 25


ou’d be forgiven for thinking network innovation has been halted as operators focus on ensuring their networks are fit for purpose in the coronavirus crisis. In the case of the Netherlands and the UK, they have also had to repair masts after idiotic attacks on them by those who claim 5G is responsible for Covid-19. Recent months have seen several operators jump on the OpenRAN bandwagon as they seek to innovate their radio access networks, which account for about 70% of mobile operators’ total infrastructures. This year O2 in the UK, Turkcell in Turkey and Indosat Ooredoo in Indonesia have announced plans to trial the disaggregated approach. O2 UK’s CTO Brendan O’Reilly said at the time of his company’s announcement that OpenRAN is “a really exciting opportunity to deliver better coverage, in more places, more of the time”. Keeping up with fora The technology promises to break open the locked proprietary model of Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia by enabling baseband software to run on white label hardware. John Baker, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Mavenir, arguably the technology’s most vocal advocate, says, “Essentially OpenRAN is about widening the supply chain... it could be third-party hardware, or it could be custom hardware.” Like others with skin in the game, he says the technology will lower costs, fuel innovation, increase competition and give operators the opportunity to be more flexible in their network deployment. On a wider scale, the technology has been driven by Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and the O-RAN Alliance. Four years after launch, the former’s OpenRAN project group, originally set up to reduce the cost of communications infrastructure for emerging economies, comprises more than 500 members across the likes of operators, tech companies and start-ups. It has been involved in a wealth of trials and deployments. The O-RAN Alliance is a more tightly organised group of over 20 operator members, which defines and specifies the needs of the telecoms industry with a view to establishing a healthy supply chain.

This double act led to some confusion around who was responsible for what, but the two organisations finally formally agreed to team up in February to develop interoperable 5G solutions. However, another forum sprang up in May. This was the Open RAN Policy Coalition, established “to promote policies that will advance the adoption of open and interoperable solutions in the Radio Access Network (RAN) as a means to create innovation, spur competition and expand the supply chain for advanced wireless technologies, including 5G.” Founding members included AT&T, NTT, Rakuten Mobile, Telefónica, Verizon and Vodafone, alongside Cisco, Facebook, Google, IBM and VMWare, among others, with Nokia a recent joiner. The new coalition has a political slant, saying it believes that the US Federal Government has “an important role to play in facilitating and fostering an open, diverse and secure supply chain for advanced wireless technologies, including 5G”. Vodafone leads the charge Fora aside, the open RAN approach received perhaps its biggest boost last year when Vodafone surprised the telecoms industry by broadening its OpenRAN ambitions to more developed markets. In November 2019, just one month after revealing it was planning to fast-track deployment of OpenRAN, Vodafone announced a tender covering all its European markets. This amounts to more than 100,000 sites providing coverage to 400 million people across 14 countries – or 1.5% of all operators’ antenna sites globally. While the operator has been working with the technology for some time with trials in Africa and Turkey, it was not expected to bring OpenRAN to Europe for a while. Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone Group’s Head of Network Architecture (and Chair of TIP), said the decision was “a show of faith to the rest of the industry and with the aim of further accelerating the development of the technology”. Playing nice Deutsche Telekom used February’s team-up of TIP and the O-RAN Alliance to announce it was launching a European Open Integration Test Centre, bringing together O-RAN specifications into TIP technology. Abdurazak Mudesir, SVP Technology Architecture and Innovation, says the centre offers a physical

location for the two ecosystems to co-exist. “What you definitely need is the ability to offer smaller and bigger players a platform to integrate, to test and to innovate.” This widening of the ecosystem is seen as the most significant threat to the big three established vendors, who have dominated the RAN for so long. Tenorio is blunt when asked why the existing model of infrastructure provision needs to change: “There are very few large vendors able to supply hardware for radio access networks at present and that is bad for… innovation, cost and resilience.” Mudesir agrees, saying that choosing between the big three vendors (at least outside the US, where OpenRAN provides an alternative in the absence of Huawei) amounts to one of its biggest capex investments. He says, “This entire OpenRAN ecosystem is about driving innovation and managing costs… By opening up the ecosystem we will have additional players to choose from. “Secondly, and very importantly, [whatever] the radio access nature of the supplier of choice, they will bring their own management system, which is really treated as a closed box managed by the same supplier. By opening up and making it intelligent, we will be able to manage it in the way that we believe it should be, which is in an automated way. That in turn will allow us to be able to scale out.” Economic impact Patrick Filkins, Senior Research Analyst, IoT and Mobile Network Infrastructure, at IDC, reckons the economic impact of the technology is “likely the top driving factor” for OpenRAN’s adoption. He explains, “Incumbent RAN suppliers are actually pretty good at delivering innovation, so in my opinion, the potential [total cost of ownership] gains are driving the discussions. Operators need to cut costs and OpenRAN is a potential enabler, from both a pure technology standpoint, but also its ability to create a more competitive RAN market.” Operators are much too polite to suggest it is game over for the biggest vendors or that the technology is being used as a threat to rewrite contracts with the big three. Mudesir says, “The vendor ecosystem has done a great job at delivering the stability we need and has been part of our success story in driving standardisation and making sure that we have a product that is globally compatible. We appreciate that

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26 Insight Report: 5G

and it is something we really would happily continue to use.” Nevertheless, there is an iron fist in the velvet glove. He adds, “But… very consistently what we see is that by bringing in adjacent technology... we will be able to bring in more innovation dimension [which] in turn would give us additional options to choose from [from] an ecosystem perspective.” Reality bites The big vendors have time on their side before OpenRAN becomes a major threat. For example, Nokia has the inside track as a TIP member and is making plenty of hay in 5G private enterprise networks (see page XX). Meanwhile, Ericsson is making much of its dynamic spectrum sharing, which allows deployment of 4G and 5G in the same band through a software upgrade, and dynamically allocates spectrum, in milliseconds, based on user demand. Ericsson claims this tech has been inherent in the Ericsson Radio System since 2015, with 4 million in commercial use globally, all of which can potentially use this dynamic spectrum sharing. In addition, plenty of questions remain about the OpenRAN operational and business model. Orange Belgium’s CEO, Michaël Trabbia, deviated slightly from the company line earlier this year when he said the technology was not yet mature enough for deployment. Filkins thinks it’s too early to give the technology a clear thumbs up as deployments have had mixed results: “For example, a typical

Q2 2020 •

ORAN project encompasses a wide-range of technology providers working in tandem, with a single choke-point such as a prime integrator. There are numerous challenges to sort out, such as how to handle, track and manage network troubleshooting. A prime integrator can address this, but it requires technology companies working closer [together] to address the operators’ stated goals.” He adds disruptive operators, such as Japan’s Rakuten, may be more willing to absorb the bumps in the road. The key challenges for operators, according to Filkins, is managing the network complexity. He says, “ORAN is really a further evolution from Cloud RAN, so Cloud RAN principles stay in effect, while standardising interfaces to enable multi-vendor interworking adds the ORAN piece. This story has been at work for a while now in other network domains, but now is being addressed in the RAN layer. “It will take time to develop solutions and in many cases vendors will be asked to customise for a specific operator need. Foremost, vendors and operators alike will need to have a strong automation approach, which remains a work in progress.” Starting the journey Mudesir is willing to admit the operator is at the beginning of its OpenRAN journey. Despite the excitement about it slashing costs in the longer term, he says it needs to optimise total cost of ownership. There is also work to

be done on power efficiency and ensuring that the defined interfaces are adapted by larger and smaller players alike. Another issue is skills, which Mudesir says operators don’t dovetail with the demands of disaggregated RAN management. He explains, “We are used to having the solution delivered as one – we plug it [in] and we optimise it. We will need to have the competence of an integration [process], to be able to understand the components ourselves, to be able to automate the testing and also even the operations, so there is really a lot of demand for upskilling.” To overcome these shortages, Deutsche Telekom is seeking to learn by doing, even with immature technology, and bringing staff up to speed by working closely with partners. Despite Vodafone’s enthusiasm, Tenorio is realistic about how and when OpenRAN will be deployed. He acknowledges, “While OpenRAN is clearly far from being ready to deliver to our performance levels in dense urban areas, it’s proven to be perfectly suitable to deliver great service with the same performance as incumbent vendors in rural areas with less density and less capacity constraints. “The focus going forward should be on ensuring a resilient vendor ecosystem across Europe that delivers across all scenarios. That requirement will need to include the scaling of OpenRAN. We are strongly committed to this and have led the industry in championing greater diversity in the network supply chain, but this will take time.”

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28 Insight Report: 5G

How 5G is both less and more secure than previous networks 5G promises to be faster with lower latency, enabling multiple new use cases, business models and services. But, asks Kate O’Flaherty, how secure is it really and what’s being done to address vulnerabilities?

Q2 2020 •

Insight Report: 5G 29


G technology will offer faster speeds and lower latency, enabling a host of mission-critical applications over the coming years. In many ways 5G is more secure than its predecessors 2G, 3G and 4G, but the technology also widens the cyber-attack surface substantially. This is partly because the risks posed by the technology span multiple vectors, including the network, devices and specific use case verticals. Each of these elements requires its own set of security protocols and approaches that must be adopted by everyone in the 5G ecosystem – not just the mobile operators. In our 2020 5G readership survey (see results and analysis on page 18), 57% of respondents think that 5G networks will be ‘much harder’ or ‘moderately harder’ to secure than previous generations. As one respondent put it, “Because of the nature of 5G in applications for critical infrastructure, the opportunities for serious attack on the networks by hostile players will be huge, and with the potential ramifications of such attacks huge in comparison to 2G, 3G, 4G network issues… securing 5G is the first and foremost important issue that needs to be fully addressed and solved.” It’s for this reason that 5G security is being taken very seriously, with standards and specifications in the making from the likes of 3GPP, ETSI and the IETF. But it’s also a race against time to secure 5G before the ‘standalone’ version comes along (see page 34) with mission-critical Internet of Things (IoT) use cases such as connected cars and robotic surgery. There is no doubt the consequences of network failure or interference in these verticals could be, literally, deadly. European unity It is with this in mind that 5G security is being addressed with urgency at European Union (EU) level. In October, EU member states, supported by the European Commission and the European Agency for Cybersecurity, published a coordinated risk assessment of 5G networks. By 31 December 2019, the Cooperation Group hoped to agree on a toolbox of mitigating measures to address the identified cybersecurity risks at national and Union level. In the event, it was at the end of January this year the European Commission endorsed a tool set,

John Wick, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Head of Global Product at Syniverse

Pavai Ezhirpavai, Vice President, Technology, Altran

along with a number of next steps to implement the toolbox. Many opportunities within 5G add security risks, says Amol Phadke, Global Network Practice Lead, Accenture. “The scale of devices creates a massive opportunity for consumers and businesses – such as IoT use cases and high-speed radio and cellular broadband – but this adds security challenges.” Among the issues, 5G sees devices diversifying: as well as mobile handsets, the ecosystem will include sensors, modems and home devices. “Each has its own set of operating systems and apps, so there is more potential for vulnerabilities,” says Phadke. Then there is the network infrastructure itself, which, in contrast to cellular networks of the past, is based on virtualisation. The resulting agility offers benefits, but at the same time, because interfaces are built in software, it’s vulnerable to attacks such as denial of service, where the network is flooded with traffic, rendering it useless.

5G security risks It gets worse: Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Iowa recently found 11 vulnerabilities in the next-generation cellular networks that could allow real-time location tracking and surveillance, plus spoof emergency alerts to trigger panic. One vulnerability carried over from 3G and 4G, and which was supposed to be fixed in 5G is the threat from ‘stingrays’, which present themselves as a cell tower to spy on users. Another issue allowed the researchers to get hold of old and new temporary network identifiers for a user’s phone, so they could discover the ‘paging occasion’ and use it to track its location. But 5G addresses most of the network threats that exist on 2G, 3G and 4G, says Todd Kelly, Chief Security Officer at Cradlepoint. He says potential threats in 5G are across the different layers. “On the device level, sensors or machines can be compromised, or malware could be present. Availability is also a threat through denial of service: if devices are connected to 5G, they could perform a signaling storm and take down a base station.” Meanwhile, supply chain integrity is also a challenge in 5G. “When you have sensors and networks connected to 5G and things are sourced from multiple suppliers, there is potential for vulnerabilities to get into the supply chain,” says Phadke. Going native Another risk is posed by the fact that 5G depends on cloud-native software running in containers. “As containers have less isolation than virtual machines [VMs], strong expertise is needed to ensure the security of container platform deployments,” says François Duthilleul, Senior Solutions Architect, Red Hat EMEA Telco Technology Office. There is also the risk of a so-called ‘man in the middle’ attack where an adversary can snoop on or intercept traffic. “Man in the middle was possible in 2G, 3G and 4G,” says Pavai Ezhirpavai, Vice President, Technology, Altran. “In 5G things have been done to avoid this, but it can still happen.” At the same time, says Ezhirpavai, cyber attackers could target connected vehicles, to devastating effect. “Someone could perform a denial of service attack and the car could be prevented from connecting to the network,” she points out.

Issue Q1 •

30 Insight Report: 5G

Will 5G networks be harder to secure than other networks? Much harder 25% Moderately harder 32% Somewhat harder 23% Not harder at all 10% Don’t know 9%

Source: Mobile Europe/European Communications readership survey, spring 2020

Adding to this, 5G networks are distributed, so it won’t be easy to manage every security aspect, says John Wick, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Head of Global Product at Syniverse. He cites the example of network slicing: “It allows us to create tailored networks for any application, but each of these slices will have its own security requirements, which you need to address, manage and keep track of. The wider the network becomes, the higher the complexity and chance of mismanagement.” Meanwhile, interconnecting 5G networks is complicated when it comes to security, says Wick. With previous generations, the responsibility for securing and authenticating another connecting network resided at the edge of each core network. A common set of authentication and authorisation procedures would position the two networks to connect. However, with the new 5G architecture and design, authentication and authorisation will occur between each unique pair of entities that require connectivity between two networks, Wick says. “For example, a 5G S-Gateway communicating with a 5G P-Gateway and home subscriber server (HSS) on another network will require the S-Gateway to authenticate and authorise separately with the P-Gateway and the HSS using unique security credentials. “Depending on the number of networks interconnected, this can quickly turn into a very large number of unique security associations that must be managed.” 5G’s greater security Of course, there are risks, but at the same time it’s important to take into account that 5G is in many ways more secure. For example, the 5G standards of user authentication and data encryption are superior to 4G.

Q2 2020 •

“Unlike 4G, 5G doesn’t identify each user through their SIM card,” says Wick. “Instead, it can assign unique identities to each device, whether they are connected to a SIM or not. 5G can also encrypt the identity and location of users when they connect to a base station, while 4G would leave this information exposed.” Meanwhile, says Kelly, some air interface threats, such as session hijacking, are dealt with in 5G. There are also security improvements in the core network itself, he points out. “5G network architecture has more capabilities in the area of security.” But 5G in its fullest form – the standalone version – isn’t here yet, as Mikaël Schachne, BICS’ VP of Mobility and IoT, points out. “From an end-user perspective, we can enjoy better speeds, but other benefits won’t be available until the core network migrates towards 5G. Until then it’s similar to 4G.” However, in the future, 5G will enable more mission critical-applications when the standalone version arrives. “So you need a fully secured environment,” Schachne says. “You need full visibility of what’s going on; you need to monitor all apps at the network level.” Securing 5G is certainly a complex challenge. So, who is responsible for doing this? The burden of security falls on the ecosystem players, says Phadke. “There is no one single player who can say they take complete care of security.” It is the responsibility of all the industry to secure the next generation of cloud-based distributed technology, agrees Duthilleul. “Governments need to vet 5G roll-out in their country through cybersecurity agencies. Organisations must develop certification schemes for IoT devices. Technology vendors must implement and demonstrate a secure software supply chain.”

Securing 5G: The future Standards are also helping to secure 5G. The 3GPP security standard includes new authentication procedures, enhanced subscriber privacy against fake base stations (stingrays), service-based architecture and interconnect security, plus user plane integrity protection. The next release has to be finished by the end of 2020 to be in line with what needs to be done, says Benoit Jouffrey, VP 5G Expertise, Thales. According to Sanjay Bhatia, Vice President of Solutions Marketing and Strategy, Ribbon Communications, the best way to address 5G security challenges is through “a proactive and reactive approach”. As part of this, he recommends machine learning technology so that constant monitoring and real time techniques to mitigate attacks are built into the architecture. He says, “You start with your current network, understand the expanding attack surfaces, create a roadmap for new 5G use cases and apps, and partner with innovators in the industry for tools based on machine learning.” Phadke says securing 5G requires a layered approach addressing the network, data and security and privacy from an end user standpoint – as well as ensuring security across the entire ecosystem. But mobile operators know they need to secure 5G networks and this is already at the front of their minds as solutions are rolled out. Phadke says operators supporting 5G are ensuring they take measures such as penetration testing and implementing firewall solutions. “As mobile operators start offering 5G solutions for businesses as well as consumers, they have to redefine their security posture. “Imagine a scenario where 5G is used to create a remote health service – this would be very sensitive data, so security is an area they are doubling down on significantly. They are being compliant with the EU General Update to Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ensuring data doesn’t leave the geography by having local cloud data centres.” Securing 5G is certainly a complex task that requires collaboration across the ecosystem to ensure adversaries can’t take advantage of weaknesses in the technology. Phadke concludes, “As networks evolve and scale to enable millions of devices, everyone in the ecosystem must take charge and implement the right security posture and solutions. It’s about keeping ahead of the attackers.”

Insight Report: 5G 31

Enterprise networks: the battle for eminence at the edge Public cloud companies (and others) have woken up to the edge computing market in a big way and are allying with operators, as well as readying to compete against them. This is a critical time for telcos, writes Annie Turner.


perators are looking to the edge and, especially, to applying the new capabilities 5G will bring to move up the value chain and generate new revenues from enterprise customers. 5G’s progress in this sphere is slow if steady (see page 34), but more worryingly, operators do not seem to be the go-to party for enterprises who want to start on edge deployments. It is

critical that operators define the opportunities and roles they want to play if they are to cash in and avoid simply providing connectivity or being cut out of the equation altogether in the case of private networks. Research published in April by Analysys Mason, undertaken on behalf of World Wide Technology, looked at roadblocks to adoption and particular use cases in six key sectors: manufacturing, transport, healthcare, financial services, retail and the public sector. It found that

enterprises are viewing the viability of edge strategies in the light of the impact they will make on the bottom line, with firms looking at the edge as a way to cut data costs by 20% as their data needs start to boom (see panel on next page). Good and bad news The study estimates that there is a $17 billion (â‚Ź15.06 billion) market opportunity for service providers between now and 2025 across these sectors, and it identified three roles for oper-

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32 Insight Report: 5G

ators: as owner of the edge location; bringing connectivity to the edge; and/or enabling applications at the edge. This is key. Of the $17 billion that is up for grabs, 59% is in user-facing application and service platforms, which means operators need to offer services closer to the end user to gain a greater revenue share. The seriously bad news is that only 6% of respondents said they would select a telecoms service provider to support their deployment. Most (41%) said they would prefer a technology company to manage their edge cloud implementation and a further 31% said they would trust a public cloud provider most. These findings are echoed in research commissioned by BearingPoint/Beyond and carried out by Omdia (formerly Ovum). It found that 72% of operators believe most of their 5G revenues will come from B2B, B2B2X, including public sector, and smart cities. Previous research by BearingPoint/Beyond indicated a 15% increase in revenues from B2B 5G services. Yet Omdia found telcos are rarely leading enterprise 5G deals and in some instances are being cut out of deals altogether: 21% of opportunities were led by operators; 40% had them as a secondary supplier; 32% of enterprises were undertaking the projects themselves; and in 7% of cases suppliers other than operators were used for connectivity. The Omdia research indicates operators need to think about business needs not tech first. As Angus Ward, Partner at BearingPoint, notes, “The way CSPs want to sell is at odds with the way in which businesses want to buy… Businesses want to buy complete solutions that fit their needs and help them solve business problems, rather than individual technology assets.”

Further, respondents are keen to use public cloud, believing it offers the greatest cost and business advantages. Chappell says, “We know this is questionable and we were shocked. They clearly see the modern, efficient way to run a business [is that] you take stuff off-premise, you try to minimise the amount… you’re investing in on-premise.” At the same time, though, Analysys Mason found respondents wanted the data to be close to them physically. Chappell says, “They don’t like the idea that it could go into an Amazon cloud and you don’t know where the data is… so it’s a kind of conundrum. They want it off-premise, but with the warm fuzzy feeling of it being close by.”

Enterprises understand edge This, too, is borne out by Analysys Mason’s study, which engaged with business people responsible for digital transformation in 200 large enterprises in Germany, Japan, the UK and the US. Chappell says, “Chief digital officers, chief strategy and innovation officers really get the concept of edge… because of the massive amount of data they will generate.” One respondent, for example, said they estimated the future cost of shipping data to a central location would be $1 million a month, which is not tenable.

Faster than expected Chappell says, “Frankly, when we analysed the data, we’d never seen such [a] positive response. It really was, ‘We’re doing this [moving to public cloud] and we are doing it now’… We weren’t expecting that to happen for another couple of years. “We thought the telcos would have a clear run at this before the public cloud providers got their act together, because even 12 months ago, they were expressing a lot of disdain and scepticism about the edge and then all of a sudden they’re moving in like there’s no tomorrow.”

Q2 2020 •

One respondent estimated the future cost of shipping data to a central point would be $1 million a month

Telcos have local presence so this seems to play to their strengths, even if building out all the edge locations is time-consuming. In the meantime, data centre owners and public cloud providers are building out infrastructure rapidly and launching all manner of preparations for edge.

Servitisation and the data explosion

‘Servitisation’ is about creating a digital extension to products. A chief strategy officer at a steel manufacturer, who responded to the Analysys Mason research, explained that when aerospace and automotive industries cut a sheet of steel, “They want to know what the thickness of it is at every single cutting point.” At the moment the firm gives them the thickness across a metre of steel, but he needs to find a way of shipping far more precise data to customers to feed into their cutting tools. As he noted, “How we do that is going to be edge-enabled because of the amount of data involved.” Analysys Mason’s Research Director, Caroline Chappell, says, “This is the kind of new thinking that’s coming along and public cloud doesn’t really play a role, because this has to be very close-edge stuff. They need telco facilities like only the metro data centres have, but that is at the moment. There is a short window of opportunity and if telcos don’t mobilise quickly, they could lose.” That is not the only sticking point for enterprises: the chief strategy officer also said, “I can’t give my customers visibility of when an order is going to be delivered, because it might be an order that relies on six different mills – they all report differently with different data standards.” Chappell explains the thinking is to get that data into a central place and normalise it, to gain a single view, so they can eventually allow customers to track their orders and so on, although, she adds, “That will be several years down the line for that company at least.”

Insight Report: 5G 33

All is not lost – there are many, varied opportunities The edge is not a single or simple opportunity. As shown below, there are many definitions of the edge, and telco assets and capabilities cover most of them. Network operators have the edge over cloud providers in terms of local points of presence and therefore lower latencies. The key for operators is deciding what role they

want to play, where, and how to deliver the goods. While various industrial groups are looking to build their own 5G infrastructure, it remains to be seen if they can do this economically – a main driver is to reduce costs. The graphs are taken from an STL Partners report, Telco edge computing: What’s the operator strategy?, published in May.

launched its telco strategy for accelerating 5G monetisation by “helping telecommunications companies to digitally transform.” Earlier this year Microsoft announced it would build a data centre region in Spain to accelerate the digital transformation of public and private entities of all sizes, leveraging Telefónica infrastructure as part of the two companies’ global strategic partnership. Microsoft recently underlined its telecoms ambitions by acquiring Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch and, as Chappell points out, it already has 200 of its points of presence set up as edge data centres.

CSPs that can orchestrate such a complex web of relationships will be capable of capturing a greater share of the market

She points out that Equinix recently bought an edge compute company called Packet to enhance multi-cloud and edge services for its enterprise customers. It has since gone on to sell $1.25 billion worth of shares to fund its acquisition of 17 data centres from BCE, Canada’s largest telecom company, and has signed a $1 billion deal with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC to build hyperscale data centres in Japan. Nevertheless, public cloud and data centre

companies know they cannot fill all the ‘location gaps’ and are developing strategies to work with telcos as well as compete against them. For instance, last December AWS announced its Wavelength strategy, which embeds its own compute and storage services within the telecommunications providers’ data centres at the edge of the 5G networks. There has been a slew of other edge-related announcements since. In March, as just one example of its activity in this area, Google

The burning question Can operators avoid being simply connectivity providers for the public cloud and other parties? They need to manage organisational, cultural, operational, business and technology transformation all at once. Chappell notes that AT&T, Verizon and Vodafone are doing “quite a good job”, along with Telefónica and NTT, and she says Rakuten Mobile and KDDI are ones to watch. She also acknowledges Orange’s growing reputation in IoT. Operators also need to pick what role to play for which customers in which circumstances. As the Omdia report concludes, “For some applications, CSPs have little traction with enterprise decision-makers… CSPs will only realise value from 5G if they can identify, partner, codevelop, implement and run a proposition with application-specific and industry-specific specialists. CSPs that can orchestrate such a complex web of relationships will be capable of capturing a greater share of the market and will not be relegated to being one of many connectivity providers competing solely on price.”

Issue Q1 •

34 Insight ???????Report: 5G

Covid-19 drives to the core of 5G issues Annie Turner looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected and is likely to affect 5G deployment, particularly standalone, and reflects that the shift of businesses and economies to digital should give regulators and governments serious pause for thought.

Q2 2020 •

Insight Report: 5G 35


n the last few months, the pandemic has highlighted how critical communications infrastructure is to countries, both economically and socially. In the telecoms industry there has been speculation that delays in the 3GPP standardisation processes due to its impact will slow development of 5G standalone (SA) mode. Almost all 5G deployments so far have been in the RAN, which accounts for about 70% of operators’ infrastructure. They are using the non-standalone (NSA) New Radio (NR) standard to improve the capacity, reliability and speed of existing services, fixed and mobile, mostly for consumers. The SA mode includes the new 5G Packet Core architecture, which will remove the core network’s dependence on the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC), to allow the 5G deployment without an underlying LTE network. This will enable operators to build new infrastructure to provide new kinds of specialised services for sectors like smart cities, manufacturing, transport, healthcare, financial services, retail and the public sector. Standalone will also support new capabilities like network slicing, which operators are very keen to leverage for the launch of new services and to open new revenue streams. Not RAN versus core Diana Pani is Senior Manager (Wireless Systems) with InterDigital Communications, based in Montreal, where she leads an R&D group that mostly deals with 5G and standardisation. She is currently 3GPP RAN2 Vice Chair and has been heavily involved with 3GPP since 2008. She points out, “The whole basis of 5G is virtualising the core network. Because this was such a significant design change to generations of networks that have gone before, and as operators wanted to start rolling out 5G as soon as possible, the initial focus was on the RAN. “It’s not the case that there has been more [standardisation] effort towards the RAN, but it’s much more complicated to do the transition to a full-blown 5G core network. And perhaps this is where we might even see further delays now, because you need a lot of equipment and investment and testing to do the full 5G core network. As we designed a very flexible system, I think a lot of the additional issues that we see later on can be fixed

without too much problem.” She includes the issue of latency at the edge as one of these “additional issues”, where again there is considerable agitation about operators not making fast enough progress (see page 31). Pani comments, “3GPP started looking at edge in Release 16 on the core network side. It is not being neglected, it is being looked at. “[This work] is necessary because by virtualising the network and moving things towards the cloud, we created a problem for ourselves, as the computing is too far from the edge of the RAN. That means we cannot meet some of the latency requirements that are needed, so now we need to shift back some of the processing to the edge. We are working on it, but it is a problem we created by virtualising, which is very funny, actually.” How bad are the delays? Pani says she doesn’t see an issue regarding Release 16 due to the pandemic: “Yes, the timeline for that has shifted, but the actual freeze [publication of the final version] of the ASN1 [the abstract syntax notation that ensures 5G’s compatibility with other mobile network generations], which is the most important part of that release, hasn’t changed and is scheduled for June. “The only thing that changed was the time for completing some of the functional aspects, which were supposed to be done by March. It just means that we have to do some work in parallel and probably work a little bit harder to get this done by June, so from that perspective I don’t think there’s any impact on Release 16.” She adds, “For Release 17 there is definitely an impact – the timeline was shifted… We were originally scheduled to start [discussions] in February, but that’s when the first meeting was cancelled and we decided to wait for a face-to-face meeting to really start 17. Now it’s very unlikely that we will meet face to face until probably the end of the year, or even next year, so we started [with virtual meetings] but three months later. Those are the delays in terms of timelines, but is there a big delay and issues? I don’t think so.” Virtualising the core She explains that 5G has an IT service-based architecture which works by shifting different architectural functions onto the cloud and distributing it in different parts of the system – they could be located in any data centre. Pani

comments, “It could be anybody who wants to offer the service that can create these functions and offer it to any other part of the network. “That was the whole premise of 5G, and you combine that with slicing, so we created a fully flexible, virtualised network that could sit in any place you want. And I think it’s become even more important now with remote working and the ability to put functions anywhere you want.” In the current climate it seems that operators will prioritise ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) and enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) because they will have an immediate impact on operations and customers. Dimitris Mavrakis, Research Director at ABI Research, observes, “These connections can provide the foundation for advanced services, such as remote diagnosis, out-patient handling and primary care. In addition, the combination of advanced data collection and Artificial Intelligence [AI – see page 38] algorithms will play an important role, especially in the more technically complex, edge device-centric use cases” (see page 31). In other words, the low-latency and high-throughput characteristics of 5G will enhance data acquisition, model updates, and device prediction accuracy and reliability as we move into the era of data-driven business and IoT. However, Pani thinks the pandemic could delay deployment of some other features due to the budgetary squeeze expected in the wake of Covid-19. She says, “This is what I would see as happening given the potential reduction in the amount of money [operators] have to invest, but maybe perhaps the governments will also see that this is very important for society.” Certainly, the proven critical importance of communications infrastructure and 5G seems at odds with some regulators’ and governments’ attitudes towards the operators who run it. Wrong-headedness Javier Torre de Silva, Partner and Global CoHead of Communications, TMC, with law firm CMS, based in Madrid, notes, “5G seems to be a homogeneous reality around the globe, but it is not. It depends in a very dramatic sense on the specific conditions that are set in the public tenders for the spectrum [the price and conditions] and the local regulations regarding

Issue Q1 •

36 Insight Report: 5G

towers and other details that are sometimes forgotten by the public.” CMS and others carried out an analysis of 5G deployments in 40 countries, including the US, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, France, Italy and Spain in spring. Torre de Silva says, “We concluded the diversity is really amazing”. He cites Spain as having dealt “very reasonably” with spectrum allocation, with the regulator offering tenders with conditions that allowed the spectrum to be used for 4G or 5G for 20 years, without time or coverage obligations. In Italy the 5G spectrum auction raised more than €6 billion from the operators, but there were tough conditions attached and Torre de Silva does not feel they are realistic, noting, “For instance, 5G coverage of 80% of the Italian population [is] to be reached in 36 months. According to the GSMA, the average coverage of 5G in Europe in 2025 is going to be in the region of 31%.” Long-term damage He adds, “Our concern is that these obligations are going to rule the 5G deployment for the next 20 years, which is the typical duration of the concessions. If we are not able to predict how the 5G market is going

A snapshot of 3GPP’s progress with 5G standards 5G’s standards setting body, 3GPP, uses a system of parallel releases to provide developers with a stable platform for the implementation of features at a given point and allows for the addition of new functionality in subsequent releases. Here is the updated timetable, published in March, after the body announced some delays due to the pandemic.

Q2 2020 •

to be in six months, imagine predicting or regulating it for 20 years: it’s going to be impossible. A lot of regulations that are being created now will prove to be inefficient,

A lot of regulations that are being created now will prove to be inefficient, absurd or contrary to the public interest in 20 years’ time or even ten years’ time

absurd or contrary to the public interest in 20 years or even in ten years’ time. “Each euro that is requested for the spectrum tenders is withdrawn from investment in the networks and that [money] is badly needed

as the telcos in Europe are very indebted. They have to balance their short-term [goals] of raising taxes or raising money for the tender and the long-term interests of the industry in developing a competitive 5G network.” It is not too late for a change of approach by some governments and regulators, though, because as Torre de Silva points out, 80% of the spectrum for 5G has yet to be allocated. The beginning of the end? Is release 17 near the end of the 5G standardisation road? Pani comments, “Release 17 is good, adding new features, but it’s far from being the end of the road. If you look historically at all the different generations of wireless, 2G, 3G, 4G, most of them have had at least seven to eight releases. “I would say we have another four releases, maybe, of 5G before we move to 6G, partly because operators don’t want to make such drastic changes either. They need to have a return on their investments first. And as we get along and we discover what’s important to society and the industry, we also start developing new things and enhance the system with different features to adapt to our changing world, and all the new verticals that we’re seeing – URLLC [alone] has a million uses.”

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38 AI ??????? focus

Orange Group explains its AI and data strategy There is a lot of talk about how operators could use AI to improve everything from operations to customer experience. In May, Steve Jarrett, SVP of the new Data and AI unit, and Emmanuel Lugagne-Delpon, SVP at Orange Labs Networks, gave a virtual briefing to describe early use cases, and lessons and benefits gained so far.


range launched its strategic plan for the next five years, Engage2025, last December and AIenabled innovation was one of the four pillars of the group’s future success. This breaks into four parts, as shown in the graphic below. The Engage2025 strategy states, “Our ambition is as strong as our social commitments are firm. And we will never think of one without the other” (see panel on page 39). Lugagne-Delpon said at the online briefing, “We believe that AI can bring value to almost every phase of the network lifecycle – so to network planning and design to optimise the efficiency of investment, operations for advanced monitoring, smarter maintenance and better security, and also optimisation to populate a number of operation processes and also optimise the performance and the use of resources.” He went on to describe a number of use cases.

Build and design Previously, operators tended to prioritise investment at sites where population is most dense and traffic volumes highest, but, starting in Spain, Orange has harnessed data and machine learning to identify which sites deliver the biggest margins and/or reduce churn. The operator can even deduce the profitability (or otherwise) of each base station. Better data has resulted in more efficient use of capital by between 10% and 20%. The company intends to repeat the approach in other markets. However, this will not be a straight transposition of technology and best practices into other countries’ network IT, because individual countries tend to have different processes and work practices in place, and these may also mean staff need to be retrained. Running the network Fraud: Orange’s wholesale business has a dedicated team to address the significant and

Orange’s AI implementation priorities. Source: Orange, May 2020

Q2 2020 •

growing business of fraud in international voice. Previously much of the work was painstaking and manual. Now an AI model typically analyses about 100 million calls per day, but the volume can rise to 160 million. Using AI has boosted the amount of fraud detected by as much as 350% and cut losses from fraud by €37 million. “So this not only saves Orange a lot of money, but significantly improves the day-to-day efficiency of the people working in this team and has made their work more enjoyable,” Lugagne-Delpon stated. The expertise and experience can also be exported to Orange’s other markets, with the same provisos as above. Root cause: The root causes of faults are famously hard to identify with alarms raising many false positives. Orange passes some 40 million homes with fibre in Europe and has about 8 million household subscribers. These networks are complex and can be expensive to operate, particularly if engineers have to be dispatched to sort problems out, Lugagne-Delpon explained. Orange has developed diagnostics that combine the established rules-based algorithms with AI to remotely pinpoint the root cause of FTTH outages and other issues. The older, rules-based system solves about 70% of problems, so AI is only brought to bear on the outstanding 30%. Some problems can be fixed remotely, but even when engineers have to intervene in the field, at least they are armed with information about the cause, which usually means a faster fix. Orange estimates the use of AI has avoided 280,000 trips into the field by engineers, saving the company more than €20 million a year, at the same time as improving customer satisfaction through less downtime and disruption.

AI focus 39

Again, the approach can be used in other suitable opcos in the group. Optimisation In the radio network: Centralised self-organised network (C-SON) technology is well established with operators, who use it to automate a base station’s configuration. In this area Orange is using AI for two purposes. The first is to predict how traffic patterns at a radio site will evolve, using AI to reroute traffic to other base stations and avoid congestion. This, in turn, gives customers better service and optimises the use of expensive network assets. AI also produces near real-time predictions about traffic to turn off elements at the radio sites, such as antennas, that are not in use to reduce power consumption by a few percent.

Build and design Smart CAPEX

Run Fraud detection

SON function

Root cause analysis

KPI forecasting

Predictive maintenance

“What we want to underline with this use case is that we can close the loop,” Lugagne-Delpon explained. AI is now providing information like a traffic forecast, and taking decisions and actions, “so the loop is closed and the use case is automated,” he concluded. About half of the 18 countries, mostly in Europe, where Orange has deployed C-SON now have closed-loop automation.

Inclusivity is essential if AI is to succeed Inclusivity is often wrongly viewed as being for the benefit of women and other ‘minorities’. For example, in early April, the UK government launched a tool to collect data about Covid-19, which did not include the sex of patients. One Tory MP who was lobbied by a constituent to include this data explained he had no interest in “women’s issues”. In fact, women appear more resilient to the virus and if the researchers can work out why, it could help improvement treatment for men. If anyone is in any doubt about the skewed view of the world already presented by data, read the Financial Times’ Business Book of the Year for 2019. Caroline Criado Perez’s Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. AI has the potential to exaggerate and amplify that invisibility, as we have already seen from some well publicised examples. Hence vigilance against deliberate and unconscious bias is critical as AI proliferates. The World Economic Forum put the cost of gender discrimination for the global economy at $130 trillion. In April, as part of its AI initiavitive, Orange launched an International Charter for Inclusive AI with gender equality organisation Arborus. The charter is based on seven commitments, including promoting diversity in teams working on AI-based solutions and ensuring that data is unified, consistent, verified and traceable.


As Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Deputy Chief Executive of Orange in France and Head of the Technology and Global Innovation Division (pictured), said, “AI at the service of people is a formidable tool for simplifying operations and reducing the digital divide. But we must remain vigilant so that it does not create new inequalities, particularly between men and women.

“This is what underpins Orange’s commitment to Arborus. We are proud to be the first signatory of the International Charter for Inclusive AI and we hope that many other companies will join us in this venture.” The first signatories are Orange, Camfil, Danone, EDF, L’Oréal, Metro and Sodexo, and the charter is open for other companies to join.

AI brings benefits right across the network lifecycle

Lugagne-Delpon added, “These principles apply to all the segments of the network, on fixed and mobile access, on the transport network, on core networks, on data centres and so on. We will increase the number of automation use cases in the future, which will bring improved monitoring, faster detection, faster troubleshooting, faster recovery, and also preventive action and maintenance. “I believe that operators are only at the very early stages of the transformation. It will be a long, long, long journey. It is a very deep transformation in the way we design the network, in the way we build the network and in the way we operate the network, so that at the end we will have software-defined networks.” Customers: Jarrett confirmed that Orange is using AI to help it identify optimal services for different customer segments, which is key given the company’s emphasis on converged services as a driver of revenue growth and a richer customer experience. It is looking at where it is most likely to succeed at cross-selling mobile and FTTH. Orange also uses AI to predict when customers are likely to churn, but also, just as importantly, to establish why they want to go, which enables the operator to counter their exit better and “make changes that improve customer satisfaction and retention across the board, and not just focus on those that might leave,” he added. What’s next? Jarrett said, “We don’t have an estimate of the overall [AI] investment yet, because that will scale with the success of the programme. So if we continue to see improvements like [we did] from the smart CapEx – a 20% improvement is a significant one – [and] as we find opportunities like that, we will continue to invest. And that’s how we are applying this test, learn and scale approach… We are very use case-centric. When we see things that work well, we scale,” he concluded.

Issue Q1 •

40 In the Back

The Wireless World The latest news and innovation from around the globe

Microsoft on trend The border between the big public cloud companies and the telcos continues to blur as they converge on the edge. Microsoft’s telecom ambition was thrown into sharp relief by its acquisition of Affirmed Networks in March, followed by Metaswitch Networks in May. The former provides virtualised evolved packet core (vEPC) platforms. The latter is generally recognised as punching far above its weight in tech wizardry and most notably offers a virtualised IP multimedia subsystem (vIMS) platform. The uneasy dance between sometime competitors and collaborators continues to gather pace.

US Dish Network American authorities are backing Dish to become the fourth national US player having approved the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US. One of the conditions of the merger was that Sprint must sell its Boost prepaid business to Dish and this is expected to happen in June. Dish has committed to rolling out 5G coverage to 70% of the US population by June 2023, which the company said will cost $10 billion. In May, Dish took a $253 million hit after deciding not to complete its NB-IoT network, but to focus on 5G instead. It named Mavenir, which is heavily involved with the OpenRAN movement, as the first vendor to help in that endeavour.

Caribbean Iliad and Digicel

Another week, another forum At the end of May, the O-RAN Alliance and GSMA joined forces to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN products and ‘harmonise’ the open-networking ecosystem, seeking agreement on an industry roadmap to make access to networks as open and flexible as possible for new market entrants. Earlier in the month, the Open RAN Policy Coalition was launched “to promote policies that will advance the adoption of open and interoperable solutions in the Radio Access Network (RAN) as a means to create innovation, spur competition and expand the supply chain for advanced wireless technologies, including 5G.” Founding members include Telefónica, Vodafone, AT&T, Verizon, NTT and Rakuten Mobile, alongside Cisco, Facebook, Google, VMWare and IBM (owner of Red Hat).

Q2 2020 •

In June, France’s Iliad Group announced it had set up an infrastructure joint venture with Digicel Group to provide coverage in Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy in the southern Caribbean. The new entity will own the mobile networks (active infrastructure and equipment) in the region on behalf of the two groups, but each will keep its own core networks and frequency allocation, thereby maintaining “total commercial autonomy”. The partners intend to invest jointly in the venture to increase the number of antenna sites, and improve coverage and throughput. In May Digicel filed for bankruptcy with $7.4 billion “unsustainable” debts before shareholders backed a restructuring programme.

Africa 2Africa A consortium including China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC will build a new undersea cable connecting 16 countries in Africa. It will have more capacity than the combined total of Africa’s current undersea cables, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps. Named 2Africa, it will be built by Alcatel Submarine Networks and at 37,000km is intended to be one of the world’s largest subsea cables. It will link 23 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, with 21 landings in 16 African countries, and is expected to go live in 2023-2024. The consortium said service providers will have access to 2Africa in carrier-neutral data centres or open-access landing stations on an equitable basis.

In the Back 41

Japan Rakuten Mobile

China China Telecom and China Unicom Despite geo-political tensions affecting the telecom supply chain, China Telecom and China Unicom chose Ericsson Radio System products and solutions as part of their 5G roll-out across China. This includes the Swedish vendor’s dynamic spectrum-sharing technology. Ericsson will provide solutions for outdoor and indoor sites to build capacity and coverage in the 3.5GHz and 2.1GHz bands, as well as network services, including provisioning, installation and testing. Its Radio System product portfolio will facilitate the operators’ standalone (SA) 5G RAN build: 3.5GHz and 200MHz wideband 5G radio solutions will serve shared network needs to support high call volumes, while 2.1GHz 5G radio solutions will support the mixed deployment of 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

Rakuten Mobile continues to earn its reputation as an innovator, announcing it will partner NEC Corporation to develop its cloud-native, standalone (SA) 5G core network. The containerised core will be made available as an application on the Rakuten Communications Platform and offered to other telcos and enterprises as a ‘blueprint’ for them to build and deploy cloud-native network services. Rakuten’s 5G launch was delayed due to supply chain issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the company has said it will go ahead later this year with SA 5G services launched in Japan next year.

India Vodafone and Big Tech The Indian mobile market has turned into an investment magnet for Big Tech. Disruptive operator Jio is part of the conglomerate run by Asia’s wealthiest individual, Mukesh Ambani. He has attracted $10 billion investment from Facebook and substantial sums from KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners, Mubadala and Silver Lake as part of his mission to reduce debt. Google is reportedly looking to buy a 5% stake in beleaguered Vodafone Idea, with Microsoft allegedly sizing up the Indian mobile market too, while Bharti Airtel denied rumours that Amazon is looking to invest at least $2 billion in the company. The bonanza has been sparked by a rise in anti-Chinese feeling due to Covid-19 and increasing geo-political tensions, leaving the field open to Western investors.

Q2 2020 •

42 Final Say

Quantifying the global 5G experience across ten operators Understanding how much 5G improves mobile experience is critical to consumers who are considering upgrading to 5G and for the mobile industry to plan how quickly to invest in it, explains Ian Fogg, VP Analysis at Opensignal.


pensignal compared customers’ 5G experience in four countries – Australia, South Korea, the UK and US – across ten operators that launched 5G over six months ago. The analysis found all the operators offered their customers much faster speeds on 5G compared with 4G – between 18.4 times and 1.7 times faster. The average download speeds also varied widely, from Verizon’s 506.1Mbps to 47Mbps on T-Mobile US. The time that users spent connected to 5G — which is all about availability — also varied greatly between operators, with a high of 19.8% of the time for customers of T-Mobile US. Hence, while T-Mobile 5G speeds may not be the fastest, its users experience higher speeds considerably more often than the users of other 5G operators. The download speeds of the operators

Issue Q4 •

reflected the kind of spectrum they are using for 5G. Of the ten, Verizon is the only one to exclusively use mmWave spectrum, which is the main reason for the extremely high speeds 5G users observed on its network. Similarly, the two operators whose users had the slowest 5G speeds relied primarily on low-band spectrum repurposed from 4G services – 600MHz for T-Mobile US and 850MHz for AT&T. The trade-off is extremely good coverage, but less capacity and slower average speeds. Life in the middle Australia’s Telstra, all three of South Korea’s operators, Sprint in the US (which is now merging with T-Mobile US) and the UK’s EE and Vodafone have all deployed 5G on mid-band spectrum, yet users’ speeds differed greatly, from well over 200Mbps on all three South Korean operators, to 114.2Mbps on Sprint. In part, this speed difference is due to the

amount of 5G spectrum available, with wider channels performing better, ideally 100MHz in a single 5G band. The discrepancy is also due to other differences in the networks, such as the capacity of the onward connection from each cell site or the performance of each operator’s core network. As the new T-Mobile increasingly combines with Sprint’s assets, the expectation is that the average 5G speed will rise as customers benefit from the mid-band 5G spectrum Sprint has deployed. Although the average 5G speed varies dramatically across these ten leading 5G operators, in every case the 5G download speed is dramatically faster than 4G. The operator whose users experienced the fastest 4G download speed, SK telecom, still saw 5G speeds 3.5 times faster. Speed isn’t everything Speed is far from the only important measure of 5G experience – how much of the time users are able to enjoy that experience is equally important. There is little point in having the potential to enjoy 5G, if that 5G experience is not often available. T-Mobile US users spent most time connected to 5G globally, with a 5G availability of 19.8%, closely followed by all three South Korean operators with a 5G availability ranging from 15.4% to 12.6%. South Korea continues to demonstrate not only tremendous 5G adoption, but a widely available and fast 5G experience. Even so, 4G dominates users’ overall mobile experience and Opensignal urges the mobile industry to accelerate 5G deployments so more people can enjoy the advantages of 5G more often.

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