Telenor’s great 5G network slicing success is yet another reminder of the multiplication effect of 5G partnership and collaboration
During a recent non-commercial trial of 5G, Telenor Research & Innovation said it gained a lot of useful insights into making fast network slicing easier to do.
But what it also learned is applicable well beyond this project: how managing partnerships and updating software components will be critical in making 5G work.
We couldn’t agree more. After all, there’s no way telcos can suddenly become experts in all use cases and industries that might seek to benefit from advanced 5G capabilities, such as slicing with specific QoS.
No, partnership and technology transfer must be the way ahead here. And in the words of an interesting write-up of all this on the editorial end of the TM Forum, the global industry association for service providers and their suppliers in the telecommunications industry, “To succeed in making use of mobile technologies and industry solutions at scale, we will need a proper way of doing system integration” – which means partnerships must be to the fore.
That the partners managed to cut 5G network slice deployment time by a very impressive 70%
Specifically, Telenor’s research arm worked with a number of specialist third-parties on the development of an end-to-end automated deployment solution of 5G standalone core network slices. The goal: demonstrate how the Norwegian operator’s enterprise customers would be able to both order 5G network services dynamically and also easily add in their own application services using industry-standard APIs.
In technology terms, the non-commercial PoC put together orchestration software from Nokia and Red Hat, security monitoring from Palo Alto Networks. The 5G Standalone core was connected with multiple radio access nodes from Huawei and Ericsson, while all services being trialled ran on Red Hat OpenShift on Intel using Nokia and HPE hardware. A key component was also the use of Emblasoft Evolver, which is a comprehensive platform for testing and validating network performance and service quality across any network, including 5G – and, we’re happy to say Emblasoft is a long-time RMA customer.
The Team at Emblasoft has been supporting pioneering research like this across multiple projects that have advanced insight into multi-vendor 5G SA networks and interoperability.
Several useful technical results came out of the effort. For example, the project found out how important it is to ensure no service interference between adjacent slices when a user wishes to quickly spin up secure network slices and onboard applications.
Another finding 5G functionality-wise is that network slice isolation seems to work best when you find the right balance between high operational costs and a satisfactory overall customer experience.
It also seems that the partners managed to cut 5G network slice deployment time by a very impressive 70%—from days to minutes, in other words. Finally, Telenor was also able to pick up insights on the challenges of automating both the operation and delivery of network slicing services at scale.
‘To succeed in making use of mobile technologies and industry solutions at scale, we will need a proper way of doing system integration’
Which is all really good and welcome, and we’re sure will be put to great use at the company. But for anyone serious about seeing the full potential of 5G in the real world, it’s that set of partner relationship learnings that are probably equally important.
As Patrick Waldemar, a Vice President at the vendor notes, telcos need to co-create solutions and build trust with the industries that are going to use these technologies. Why: they are more used to dealing with different (Big Tech/Enterprise IT players, SIs/system integrators) partners or very niche players outside our sector: “Now, we come with new mobile technology and solutions, and [so] we need to build trust and prove over time that this is their best option.”
He also thinks part of the answer is likely to lie in partnering with systems integrators with specific vertical expertise. "To succeed in making use of mobile technologies and industry solutions at scale, we will need a proper way of doing system integration," Waldemar is quoted as saying.
Recognising that partnership is essential is a key step to realising commercial benefit for all involved. The future is there, if we all ‘get’ this and start opening these conversations now in as open-minded a way as possible.
And this leads to a key point – of course telcos want to play in 5G industrial opportunities – and partnerships will help them to achieve this. However, it’s equally clear that other stakeholders have a key role – from big tech, the enterprise and players with specialised vertical focus who really understand the nitty-gritty of different industrial sectors.