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Predictions for Mobile World Congress 2015

Vish Nandlall, Telstra's Chief Technology Officer | Feb. 24, 2015
SDN, NFV, LTE and 5G to take centre stage at the upcoming event, says Telstra's CTO.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Here are my predictions for the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC).

1.    Drivers for Software-Defined Networks
The driver for the software-defined telco has moved beyond capex reduction to operational efficiency and service agility. There is no "Moore's Law" for operating a network, and there has been little innovation in service operations and management to meaningfully change this diseconomy of scale.

Technologies such as Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) have embraced these value propositions, but they are falling short of owning them. We cannot forklift our whole infrastructure and start over.

Consequently, the industry will not secure the benefit of these new technologies unless we can solve for a common operations framework that can manage and orchestrate both physical and virtual parts of the network. This can only be realised through a high level, multi-vendor model of services and infrastructure. 

There is a solution deficit in the industry addressing this operations modernisation, many operators are looking to build this capability on their own or through bespoke system integration programs - but this runs the risk of fragmentation in the long run. The industry needs leadership, and I hope to see who is in the running at MWC.

2.    Ways the industry should tackle data growth
According to the GSMA's The Mobile Economy 2014 report, Asia Pacific is expected to dominate CAPEX forecasts aimed at managing the growing data volumes, due to the sheer number of connections and the expectation for strong data traffic growth in the region. Simultaneously, consumption drivers have shifted from subscriber growth to subscriber usage, while the penetration of LTE, connected devices, wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) will form an increasing percentage of mobile data traffic for years to come.  Estimates range from a 7x to 10x increase in data volume over the next five years, with video being the largest contributor. 

New compression schemes such as HEVC, and mobile broadcast services such as LTE-B provide a toolkit to help reduce data volumes -- while spectrum efficiency gains delivered through the LTE-Advanced roadmap provide near term capacity relief.

At MWC, I will be looking for emerging technologies, such as full duplex wireless, and the maturity of the LTE-U ecosystem to evaluate how soon or how far-out they fall in the planning cycle.

3.    Network Function Virtualisation (NFV)
The core challenge is how we take a native approach to managing and operating NFVs, which explicitly decouples resources from services, while still being able to manage the existing physical network using existing operations principles.

I am looking for leadership in TMF, the ETSI Industry Specification Group and Open NFV for how we can meet this challenge effectively as an industry.


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