Ericsson are Diamond sponsor of the Broadband Asia conference, taking place taking place on the 29th-30th April 2014 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we catch up with Bryan Tan, Vice President , Fixed Broadband Convergence Practice at Ericsson, South East Asia & Oceania, to find out more about how revolutionary new network developments are opening up opportunities for operators.
The rapid innovations and availability of online content and cloud-based services implies that the greater share of the consumer wallet is being directed to application service providers. Do you think that this is a threat towards operators’ business, whose traditional role is mainly to deliver connectivity?
Consumers and enterprises today demand added value and improvements in the timeliness and quality of the services and applications that are delivered to them. The rise of cloud-based services actually provides both a challenge and an opportunity to operators. The challenge is to ensure that the relevance of the connectivity is highlighted through solutions that are able to personalize and adapt the connectivity to individual user or application preferences. The opportunity lies in new business models and service offers that operators are now able to explore. Once operators identify what end-users really want, they will also be able to identify what changes to networks are needed.
For us, it all boils down to three key attributes:
1) Agility – it’s all about bringing products to market much quicker.
2) Innovation –for example, enabling delivering cloud services to enterprise.
3) Efficiency – enabling simpler networks with the ability to offer personalized services.
Mobile operators can then combine these three attributes together with superior network performance to stay relevant.
Why is it so critical for networks to offer superior performance?
The ever-increasing volumes of data traffic in mobile networks, driven by both the quick uptake of smartphones and the prevalence of streamed audio and video services, is creating a growing challenge for operators .The recent years have witnessed a dramatic increase in volumes of data traffic. There has been an 80 per cent growth in data traffic between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013- just one year; and according to Ericsson Mobility Report, smartphone traffic is projected to grow 10 times between 2013 and 2019. Operators not only need to manage the increase in traffic load, they also need to meet rising consumer and enterprise expectations for excellent performance.
A recent Ericsson Consumer Lab report found that enhancing user experience is critical to retaining paying customers. The study found that the biggest influence on customer satisfaction is network performance and that addressing network performance has twice the impact on customer loyalty compared to measures such as improving customer support.
How does SDN, Cloud and NFV help to achieve this increase in performance?
By adopting a layered, virtualized cloud approach, whether centralized or distributed, operators are able to orchestrate the network and cloud in sync with common SDN and operations support systems (OSS) capabilities. This not only optimizes resource utilization, but also ensures a truly dynamic service delivery process and improves the user experience – enabling a “personalized” response to changing connectivity requirements in real time.
Together, these technologies transform the network and the cloud into a network-enabled cloud, the real-time cloud – one that is more fluid, more dynamic and more responsive to emerging service needs. By implementing a combination of this network-enabled cloud (which offers flexible management of cloud applications), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) (several virtualized applications on a common hardware platform, which reduces OPEX and CAPEX) and real-time control capabilities of Service Provider SDN, operators can put themselves in a position to transcend the boundaries of the traditional data centre without compromising quality. The result will be an improved experience for consumers, with greater efficiency, lower costs and higher margins for operators.
Is NFV just about virtualizing the network as much as you can?
NFV is not all about virtualization only. It is actually about making sure that there is an underlying infrastructure that can meet, match and exceed the current and expected demands from virtual network functions in terms of Resiliency, Network Stability, Service Continuity.
NFV provides the means to virtualize applications and to be able to run them on different hardware platforms, whether telecom grade or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS).
Can you mention an example on how the Real-time Cloud approach can help operators deliver new services?
There is something we call “Network Slicing”. What network slicing does is that it carves out a very personalized piece of all network resources for you or for an app, based on what its performance requirements are and probably based on what you are willing to pay for. It is a very powerful concept that the combination of the three technologies (SDN, NFV, Cloud) have enabled us to deliver. An example of Network Slicing can be the driverless car. The control and navigation requirements for this car are probably very unique and stringent and therefore you need a slice of the network to do this. But the same slice is not needed for somebody in the car just trying to watch a YouTube video.
Another case is the virtual home gateway. This is an example of virtualizing some of the functions of a traditional home gateway and hosting them in a Network-enabled Cloud. Virtualization reduces the complexity of the home gateway by moving most of the sophisticated functions into the network. As a result, operators can prolong the home gateway refreshment cycle, cut maintenance costs and reduce time to market for new services. The most important aspect of this solution, however, is that it gives the network visibility to all the devices that were traditionally hidden behind the home gateway. This opens up significant revenue opportunities through the ability to offer services that are personalized in a much more granular way.
Bryan has over 13 years of telecommunications experience and previously has held positions within Ericsson as Director of Technical Sales at Ericsson Silicon Valley and Director of Broadband and IP Solutions. He is now responsible for the Packet Core, IP, Microwave, Mobile Backhaul, Optical, and Fiber business for Ericsson in South East Asia and Oceania.