As the Carrier vs. cloud competitor discussion has raged over the past few years, it seems there has been a truce called in the last few months. Rewind back a few years ago and the Web Internet Companies (WICs) and Carriers were mortal enemies fighting over the same space. As such, Carriers moved to buy or build their own Cloud data center operations. Verizon buying Terramark for 1.4B in 2011 being just one such example.
Carriers converged on Singapore last week to discuss the state of the industry and plans for 5G. Singapore remained the same as ever. Hot and humid weather dominated the banking and shopping mecca in SE Asia. The global slowdown is being felt there, particularly in the continued slide in housing prices, which peaked here in 2013.
Amid this environment, most major APAC Carriers don’t plan to roll out commercial 5G services until 2020. Highlighting the need for continued technical trials, finding the elusive 5G killer app, and the continuing evolution of 5G standards, the APAC Carriers showed little resolve to push 5G commercially prior to 2020.
Last week in Denver, Carriers discussed their plans to migrate their networks to NFV and SDN, and what they’ve learned so far. Some themes were predictable. Carriers see agility and service innovation as the key drivers for their NFV/SDN deployments. This driver is fundamentally more important to them than cost reduction, though they are seeing reduced costs in deploying NFV over proprietary hardware. Accordingly, the new generation of Open Source Standards bodies (OPNFV, ONF, and ODL) is seen as more important than the traditional IETF and ETSI standards bodies since it’s through them that Carriers see the ability to compete with more agile open source deployments. However, the presiding theme throughout the conference was that Managed Security Services are clearly on Carriers’ minds as they make this transition.
In the “Silicon Hills” capital of the deep South, the world of technology movers and shakers descended upon Austin’s Convention Center for Light Reading’s Big Communication Event to discuss the latest disruptive technologies ripe to revolutionize the way we communicate.
Meanwhile, in the streets of Austin, a prickly regulation battle forced ultra-hip transportation companies Uber and Lyft to move their businesses out of the metro area. As a result, community engineers rallied around the clock to create a new app, called Ride-Austin, to fill the void – and reportedly in only 2 weeks’ time! This is only fitting in a startup town like Austin, as modern businesses everywhere are confronted with the reality of offering services to consumers in a nimble, automated, intelligent, dynamic, and virtual manner.
After lots of good BBQ and craft beer in Austin last week, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what I saw at the Openstack conference. If we weren’t already convinced that carriers are determined to break vendor lock-in and deploy Openstack and NFV—no matter what the challenges— we should be now.
Attending the NFV World Congress last week gave me a chance to talk to many carriers about their migration into a virtualized network. Many have made big progress. In fact, Verizon has already begun to deploy an OpenStack environment.
Carriers continue to aggressively push into NFV with NTT announcing they will virtualize 75% of their network by 2020. AT&T and now NTT Docomo and many others have either declared their virtualization goals or have begun to take active steps toward achieving them.
The U.S. Senate is currently evaluating a bill that would require companies to break encryption under a court order. There is much controversy around this bill, in fact several organizations have already spoken out against it, including the CTA.
After all the meetings have finished, the jamon has been eaten, Rioja has been drunk and all the world’s Mobile Carriers have returned from Barcelona, what have we learned? And does it fit with what we expected? As predicted, Mark Zuckerberg chided the industry for focusing too much on IoT connections (who would not open new Facebook accounts), but he also spoke about spending more to connect to people in the developing world (who would open new Facebook accounts).
Once again another year has started and the Mobile industry will descend upon Barcelona to discuss the latest trends. There will be the obligatory talks about over-the-top applications. Tech personalities like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will discuss how all people on the planet need a fast mobile Internet. The Tier 1 Carriers will all discuss their plans for 5G. I do, however, expect to see some new themes this year that will add new dimensions to this yearly event.
On Tuesday June 9th, I presented at Light Reading’s Big Telecom Event and spoke about NFV in the mobile network. The event hosted a few thousand attendees for several hot Chicago days by the Lake and the NFV session was well attended.
NFV is a hot topic in the Carrier industry. According to Heavy Reading, nearly 50% of the Carriers said that they are currently testing NFV solutions in their networks and the other 50% claimed they are in active study on the topic.