March Towards 5G Era
4G changed how personal communication works, broadened information and entertainment delivery channels; imminent 5G deployment will further expand influence on social & economic activities, empower new applications in verticals as well as personal communication with ultra-broadband, ultra-low latency and massive connectivity.
As the foundation of tomorrow’s economy and one of crucial elements of digital infrastructure, 5G networks require hundreds of billions dollar investments to unlock greater social and economic value, and service providers must be ready for the benefits and challenges. Thus, it is necessary to identify key vertical industry use cases to drive 5G network adoption and estimate return of initial 5G network investment, it is also of great significance to pinpoint capability gap in current IT setup and plan evolution paths accordingly, to achieve optimal monetization of 5G network.
Figure 1: 5G network features and business requirements
Fundamental Capabilities for 5G Network Operation
To cater ever changing vertical industry requirements, 5G-Ready IT must be cloud-native starting from the infrastructure level. Microservices based architecture coupled with high configurability and orchestration will result in a carrier-grade, truly agile and cost-effective innovation incubator for verticals at large.
Network Slice Monetization
The ability to network slicing opens up a whole new world of monetization possibilities. 5G-Ready IT shall take new parameters into consideration: slice duration, bandwidth allocated, QoS, latency and max. connectivity, etc. This allows service providers to price services accordingly for applications ranging from remote medical procedure to smart metering.
Besides prepaid and postpaid, 5G network requires service providers to expand convergence into new type of user segments as well as navigating through 2/3/4/5G network infrastructure management tasks. Managing product catalog of a highly hybrid network as well as diverse equipment assets from different generation and multiple vendors requires thorough inspection into current operation tools and procedures.
Value Fabric Management
To unlock greater value for service providers beyond connectivity, a smooth partner onboarding and cooperation platform are at the center of value-creation chain. To effectively incorporate & monetize service provider capabilities into services, Open APIs and a flexible revenue engine are of necessity.
Network Orchestration & Provision
Zero-touch & real-time 5G specific network element orchestration enable 3rd party innovation. While 5G network promises ultimate flexibility in providing 3rd party the bandwidth, QoS and latency it requires, the process of meeting such requirements effortlessly involves complex orchestration efforts from RAN, Core, Transmission and BSS domains at scale.
5G network inevitably leads to exponential growth in data traffic, and operating such network also generates abundant network diagnosis data, which could be translated into valuable insights to help orchestrate resources, plan 4/5G network coexistence & transition plan, enhance customer experience and boost overall operation efficiency, if appropriate analytics techniques are applied on the right data sets.
March Towards 5G Era With Whale Cloud
In May 2017, Whale Cloud launched the digital business enablement platform (d-BEP) to the market with the great improvements on cloud infrastructure, DevOps, API platform, and analytics-driven business process, to support the technology evolution and ecosystem development.
Since 2018, Whale Cloud has adopted digital technologies and digital transformation methodology extracted from the world-wide practices from Alibaba Group to enhance the capabilities to manage challenging 5G network operation, flourishing digital services and demanding industrial transformation.
Support 5G network operation
The operation of 5G network needs full automation for efficiency improvement, i.e. automation of service provisioning, automation of service creation and automation of resource orchestration. All these requirements need end-to-end BSS and OSS platform with intelligence capabilities.
The data mid-end platform of d-BEP solution is able to translate the business data into knowledge. The other way around, the knowledge will support the business process in an intelligent way.
The data mid-end platform is also used to assist the network resource management and network operation to fulfill the intelligent resource orchestration, intelligent operation & maintenance.
Enable digital services
5G will bring more innovative digital services to individuals with the exponential growth of IoT and ultra-broadband service, and we could foresee the booming ecosystem where partners collaborate with one another to form value fabric. In this case, a digital platform is pivotal to manage various industrial player relationships, extended product catalogs, and complex business models for revenue management.
The API platform of d-BEP solution enables the capability sharing and ecosystem building via a set of standard-based APIs to realize easier partner onboarding, centralized product catalog offering, order-to-bill capabilities for telecom assets, as well as 3rd party products and services.
Telcos will turn customer insights into action for superior experience with the support of data mid-end platform. Customers will have consistent experience with intelligent service and seamless channel switch from one to another. Most notably, these services are tailored for each individual.
Drive vertical innovation
The main business driver of 5G lies in the support for industrial IoT (IIoT) explosion, e.g. connected vehicle, manufacturing, city, retail. Thus, it is compulsory for telcos to move up the value chain, rather than providing connectivity only.
In partnership with Alibaba Cloud, Whale Cloud provides the necessary elements to support the IIoT business development, including digital technology foundation, e.g. cloud, data analytics, AI, etc., IoT business enablement and application development, e.g. business mid-end platform, and ecosystem to ensure the sustainable growth and flourishing IoT business.
Alibaba Group has not only succeeded in the retail business as the largest e-commerce retailer in the world, but also has reshaped many industries with their forward-thinking models, like the agriculture, city operation, medical and health, finance and insurance, etc. Fueled by the AI technology and data operation knowledge, Alibaba Group has launched ET Brain solution for various domains.
Whale Cloud will continue to innovate these solutions together with Alibaba and make them adaptable to various market requirements with the extensive industrial knowledge and global collaboration with telcos and business partners across the world. We could collaboratively manage and monetize the 5G business to get the return of millions of investments faster.
The essence of 5G is about digital services to individual consumers, and business model refreshing for industrial players. We have witnessed old world formula disruption and emergence of unicorn companies in the mobile internet era, creating unique value to social economy and people. In the 5G era, the society will be further tightly connected with digital world, digital changes will take place even faster with enlarged scope in manufacturing, health, education, airline, transport and more.
The mission of Whale Cloud is to become the Global Leader in Digital Transformation. We are devoted to bringing new and fresh-thinking business models to different industries and creating business synergies by merging business sector borders. 5G will be the next big battleground for all industrial participants to rethink their position in the value chain, including telecom operators, which means, providing value beyond ultra-broadband connectivity is the primary requirements. Our value proposition is about fast adoption of new ideas and continuous innovation capabilities. The valuable and vast telecom business knowledge as well as strong support from tech and business partners will make us competitive and outstanding in digital era driven by 5G technology. We are marching towards 5G era in steady and with well-planned steps.
Written by Fu Jianjun, CMO, Whale Cloud & Zhouxi WU, Solution Architect, Whale Cloud