5G enterprise opportunities – aligning public and private networks
5G private networks are rightly perceived as a new opportunity but many services must cross network boundaries and be delivered in public as well as private networks. They must also be customised to meet vertical requirements – MNOs have a huge role to play in cross-network orchestration and service continuity.
The 5G enterprise opportunity is not just about isolated private networks
A new report from the TMF highlights the growing 5G enterprise opportunity for MNOs. As might be expected, private networks feature heavily, as does a focus on vertical opportunities. While the report notes that new entrants are likely to play an increased role in the value chain and ecosystem, it also offers extensive discussion of the role that is available for MNOs.
In particular, while some enterprises may build and operate their own private networks, it must be recognised that many will not and, instead, will obtain network-as-a-service solutions from MNO partners.
However, it should be noted that few private networks will operate entirely in isolation, particularly where people are concerned. Put simply, people may use private networks in a specific location, but they may not always be in that place. They will move. It is highly likely that personal users will migrate from a private network – or even a private slice – to other, public networks, and they will expect their services to function wherever they are.
Mobility remains a key requirement – which means service continuity matters
To this requirement for mobility should be added the need to support the demands of different verticals. Healthcare applications and services will have different requirements from other sectors, such as manufacturing, for example. Put these trends together and another opportunity emerges.
If users need to move from private to public networks (and vice versa), they will also likely move from 5G domains to non-5G domains, such as legacy 4G and 3G networks, depending on the coverage available. As such, MNOs will need to determine which services should be available to a user as they traverse these domains. There may be some services that are limited to the 5G area, while others may need to be active across all. MNOs, with visibility of all such networks, will be able to manage this more effectively than a provider of a specific (and isolated) private 5G network.
- MNOs have the opportunity to manage and control services that span different network domains, unlike pure-play private network providers. In other words, service continuity is essential.
In addition, while there may be specialised vertical applications that can only be delivered in a specific slice or private network location, there can be also be others that should be available to users, irrespective of the domain. Sure, certain capabilities may be limited by the performance available, but the core service may need to be delivered anywhere.
- Vertical service persistence and capability optimisation across different network bearers and QoS domains. In other words, service orchestration and delivery to ensure the most appropriate performance level for the conditions available.
There’s a big space for MNOs to deliver cross-network services
All of this points to a set of opportunities which have yet to gain attention. MNOs will be able to target a set of enterprise applications and functions that must be delivered and managed across different networks, with adaptation to each, and with customisation to support the needs of different segments. A critical communications service, for example, cannot be limited to a 5G private network or slice, it may need to be delivered nationally, with the best effort performance at a minimum, but with enhanced capabilities depending on the connectivity available.
So, while it’s clear that there are significant new 5G enterprise opportunities and that there are new stakeholders eager to gain a foothold, there is a huge gap that remains for services that can be delivered across networks as well as be tuned to the needs of different verticals.
Future service customisation and orchestration with Gintel
That’s why we’re working extensively to apply our knowledge of service customisation (doing different things for different enterprise sectors and customers) and service orchestration and continuity, to determine how such differentiated services can be delivered across 5G islands, 5G public networks and others, such as 4G.
It’s an exciting area and one we expect to become hugely important in the next couple of years, as attention shifts from the opportunity in general to the specific challenges of delivering cross-network services.