The findings are led by three leading industry analysts: Dimitris Mavrakis from ABI Research, Gorkem Yigit from Analysys Mason and Brice Longnos from Strategy Analytics. They explored 5G monetization, mobile video on NFV and RAN maximization – respectively.
Content and Monetization in a 5G network
Both OTT content providers and mobile operators joined in the discussion. 5G will truly transform the mobile video landscape and as the roundtable got underway, the Council heard how 90% of traffic on 5G will be mobile video.
1: It may take until 2022 to witness mass adoption of 5G. Initially, 5G will be deployed for mobile broadband initially. This will take place over 2019/2020. There will be a small number of deployments and then as the use case applications increase, 5G will be widely deployed.
2: 3GPP needs to revisit the definition and scope of the User Plane Function as the current version of the document lacks clarity on the implementation methodology. What’s more, operators voiced their fears – and frustration – about how protocol challenges and rising encryption could make monetizing 5G mobile video a challenge.
3: Some content providers are considering 5G – thanks to its low-latency – as an uplink alternative to satellite services for live events such as sports. That’s good and bad news. Good if you can monetize it. Bad as it probably could add more pressure and strain operator backhaul architecture.
NFV and Mobile Video
As mobile video traffic soars, a number of operators have turned to NFV/SDN to manage the traffic. A number of operators have also deployed VNFs as they dip their toes in the virtualization waters. However, what came out loud and clear from this roundtable was that almost all the operators were frustrated with vendor lock-ins and other NFV challenges. Right now, the benefits of NFV that were hyped are largely yet to be realised.
1: The need for standardization. A number of vendors had different NFV and VNF approaches and this was creating unnecessary complexity for operators. This also made the automation of orchestration harder for carriers – and prolonged cloud-based deployments.
2: Orchestration requires cooperation. Operators on the roundtable called for greater collaboration between vendors, Open Source initiatives and partnerships to be forged in the industry so they can gain the real benefit from virtualization.
3: Operators want to supercharge the edge with NFV. Carriers are exploring how NFV can help a range of applications at the edge from low-latency use cases to mobile video delivery with optimization to boost Quality of Experience. Caching and computing at the edge will emerge as a prominent use-case for videos. However perfecting NFV and mobile edge computing will take time. Operators are looking to accelerate this process.
Maximizing the RAN – Maximizing the Revenues
The panel examined the strategies operators can utilize to maximize RAN without compromising quality at a time when carriers were facing a rising tide of encryption. Operators discussed the pros and cons of “all you can eat” content and the possibility of applying optimization on the RAN with different approaches to maintain consistent QoE.
1: Operators will increase their partnering and bundling of OTT packages and offering premium content in 2019. This has already proved popular with subscribers. Operators will compete on the different OTT service being offered to differentiate their proposition. However the challenge for operators is to find the right balance between OPEX and CAPEX for this initiative as it impacts the RAN. There’s no one size fits all strategy.
2: The cost of maintaining the RAN was the elephant in the room. An increasing number of operators are now finding it even harder to justify investment compared to ROI in their RAN. Operators obviously know that they have to invest in it, but intense competition from OTTs is making it harder to justify it to their finance departments.
3: With 5G, some operators might not invest in fiber. Instead they will be looking to provide wireless broadband access to a larger group of subscribers, include rural connectivity. This is an opportunity, but does pose a unique set of challenges for RAN optimization and investment.