3 reasons why network virtualization won’t fly – and what we can do about it

The honeymoon is over. After nearly half a decade of dabbling in network virtualization, the telecoms industry is waking up to a harsh reality: it may have hitched itself to NFV/SDN, but married life is far from a bed of roses. Instead, “we find ourselves mired in an unprecedented mess,” according to Steve Saunders, founder of industry portal Light Reading. His statement strikes a strong chord with me. So far, few – if any – operators have been able to reap the much-vaunted benefits of NFV/SDN virtualization. Instead of cost-savings, they have seen mounting integration costs. Instead of building open, […]  More >>

Making Network Sharing Viable

It’s not only kids who don’t like to share. Many operators too, shy away from opening up their networks to competitors – especially when there is a risk of compromising their competitive advantage. And if they need to increase capacity, they prefer to invest in boosting their own network infrastructure. Clearly, this isn’t the best approach – especially when multiple operators are duplicating each other’s resources in the same metropolitan areas. Indeed, densifying multiple networks from various operators is becoming increasingly difficult to justify – not only due to the higher costs but also because of the added network interference. […]  More >>

Lessons from the cloud will help telcos get better at services. Here’s why.

Telecom network operators were nothing if not rattled when cloud computing arrived on their doorstep. In an industry where competition was already ripe and growing consolidation a certainty, the thought of more players entering the fray set alarm bells ringing. But they had little to counter cloud providers’ low-cost services that could be switched on quickly and scaled flexibly. The cloud business model appealed not only to end users but also to the telcos themselves. ‘Cloudification’ and virtualization technologies such as NFV (Network Function Virtualization) and SDN (Software-Defined Networking) were ushered in with much fanfare. They promised to transform the […]  More >>
Network AI

The missing piece of the puzzle?

For communications providers, one essential missing piece from their network jigsaw puzzle has to be artificial intelligence (AI).  AI can make the biggest impact in operational automation: letting networks run themselves. Instead of spending substantial amounts on managing, maintaining and fixing them, networks could become “self-healing.” But carriers are only just starting to think about automating their networks. Letting the network run itself To date, network operations have been semi-automated at best. Though more and more functions have moved onto software platforms, it has made little sense for many operators to automate these functions, when there was still a large […]  More >>

Poor indoor coverage – Missed Opportunity?

How many times have we been inside a building and needed to make that all-important call, only to find there’s no mobile signal? The experience can be infuriating! Although we spend around 90% of our time indoors and about 80% of mobile data is consumed there, indoor connectivity still remains inferior to outdoor network coverage in many areas. User expectation has risen to a point where people expect the same experience for voice and data services indoors as they get outdoors, regardless of whether that expectation is reasonable. For mobile operators, achieving the right balance between outdoor and indoor network […]  More >>

NxM: matching network performance to customer needs, at last

Mobile operators compete in a wide variety of ways, but increasingly, quality of experience is the most critical. A fast, unbroken, interactive mobile experience is the number one factor which will keep customers loyal and boost their usage, while attracting new users. Yet 80% of mobile operators (MNOs) round the world say they do not have a clear view of what subscribers are experiencing on their networks – even though 76% agree customer experience is critical to their success. There is a gulf, then, between MNOs’ recognition of the importance of user experience, and their ability to understand and control […]  More >>

Open source can protect your virtualized network. Here’s how.

Virtualization has been a hot topic in telecommunications for nearly half a decade. As networks migrate from hardware to software, and ‘walled gardens’ turn into much more open cloud-like architectures, so security risks increase. Throwing open source software development into the mix adds a further layer of complexity. If large numbers of developers across the world can manipulate the code of a piece of software, doesn’t this increase the risk of malicious code being introduced? And if code is visible to anyone, isn’t it going to be much easier to find, and capitalise on, vulnerabilities? The answer is no. Just […]  More >>

The specter of spectrum waste or a spectrum of possibilities?

Many mobile network deployment/optimization projects reveal an interesting truth about (radio frequency) spectrum, the vital and scarce resource for wireless communication. Indeed, it is typical for at least some radio frequency bands to stay under-utilized or be deployed sub-optimally due to the limited consideration of their actual impact on network experience. Such “waste” can become a major business issue for mobile network operators (MNOs), who have invested in expensive licensed spectrum. The situation is similar to what I encountered as a mobile network planning/optimization expert many years ago. Even mature networks were subject to what seemed to be the rule […]  More >>

Network densification vs network experience. Can you have it both ways?

As macro networks approach their limits in capacity and performance, it’s important to consider the role small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS) can play in densifying your networks and boosting network performance around mobile “hotspots”. But finding the best solution for these networks is far from straightforward. What’s needed are strategies that not only solve congestion, but also maintain a focus on customer experience. In most cases, pursuing network-wide densification is simply overkill. Why waste resources when you can target specific hotspots that have high levels of mobile traffic, such as public venues, transport hubs, downtown centers and business […]  More >>

Network virtualization is a culture shock. We need to get over it.

Much has been written about the technological change, financial benefits and increased agility that NFV/SDN technology will bring to telecoms networks. But behind the glossy shopfront of virtualization lurks a subject few commentators have dared to broach. For a very monolithic sector like telecoms, virtualization is a huge culture shock – one so major that it could become a serious roadblock to the technology’s success. We need to get over it – and quickly. The only constant is change When Cloud computing and data center companies started to adopt virtualization, theirs was a young sector with little technological baggage. With […]  More >>