Five takeaways from the Big 5G Event
by Martha DeGrasse 5/23/22
Informa’s Big 5G Event welcomed 1,300 attendees to Austin, TX May 16-18. Key themes we heard repeatedly were the industry’s need for more software engineers and the related move of virtualize radio access networks and open network interfaces. Top 5 takeaways:
Open RAN doesn’t always mean new vendors. Increasingly, operators are pressing existing vendors to open their network interfaces. (We saw this last year when Verizon successfully pressured Nokia to open its CPRI to interoperate with Samsung base stations.) At the Big 5G Event, Verizon’s Miguel Carames, Executive Director, Cloud Technology and Planning, said technical teams generally favor open systems much more than business teams do. He advocated for more interoperability testing of components from different vendors. Kaustubh Joshi, Director, Inventive Science at AT&T, said his company would like to see more systems integrators step up to help with open RAN integration. AT&T’s Andre Fuetsch, EVP and CTO for network services, said the operator is “more excited about Open RAN than we have ever been,” adding most current deployments involve small cells and/or private networks.
2. The telecom industry needs more IT talent. Operators and their vendors are struggling to find software engineers, and paying top dollar to recruit and retain talent. One vendor told us he thought lack of in-house cloud talent was a factor in AT&T’s decision to sell its core network to Microsoft. Later, AT&T’s Joshi told a panel audience network transformation would need to be accompanied by workforce transformation.
3. Virtualized RAN is getting real. Ericsson said it has doubled its cloud RAN capacity in 2022 and expects to do the same in 2023. The vendor will be collaborating with Intel to produce specialized chips for virtualized RAN. Samsung, meanwhile, is already deploying a fully-virtualized cloud-native vRAN solution for mid-band spectrum.
4. Networks are going green. Operators are looking for ways to build sustainability into their next-generation networks. According to Intel, Deutsche Telekom recently demonstrated a 40% improvement in distributed unit (DU) processor energy consumption using Xeon processor C-state transitions with reduced latencies and putting CPU cores into a lower power state when not required.
5. DAS still rules in-building. Despite all the buzz about private networks, enterprises are still investing heavily in DAS. One vendor told us the availability of mid-band spectrum is driving new DAS projects, and said the leading vendors (CommScope, Corning, JMA Wireless, SOLiD, and ADRF) are displacing one another as enterprises upgrade their systems.