By Nermin Mohamed, Head of Telecommunications Solutions at Wind River
In part 1 of our blog series, we discussed the speed of 5G adoption, despite the challenges of a global pandemic. In part 2, we looked at regional trends for 5G adoption and new use cases driving growth in the next few years.
One of the key lessons from 2020 is that fast and reliable online connectivity is crucial to every facet of our lives. Working from home, having a video call with your doctor, or attending school from the kitchen table have all become the new normal for individuals. For example, Gartner predicts that 48% of employees will continue to work from home post-pandemic compared to just 30% before COVID-19. Businesses have adapted too, reworking global supply chains and supporting employees in remote locations as never before.
The pandemic has become a major disrupter in many areas of life, and it has accelerated demand exponentially from both individuals and industries. From homes to offices, manufacturing to world economies, telecommunications companies will play a huge role in the next several years. Let’s look at some of the big trends already emerging in 2021.
CSP focus: actively investing in 5G capabilities
CSPs will invest heavily in 5G as they strive to meet existing demand and developing new markets. Telcos will continue to invest in 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology to enable rapid deployment of broadband connections, as well as reinforce existing networks. The industry will start to move beyond 5G New Radio investments and start to develop base capabilities at the enterprise level, including O-RAN, 5G standalone, core networking, distributed cloud architecture, and network and service orchestration platforms, along with automation and AI.
Operator focus: building the foundation with distributed cloud
Distributed cloud computing has become the cornerstone for technology advancement, in general, and specifically for 5G. Cloud-based technology will dominate software-related spending decisions for operators, increasing emphasis on cloud automation, optimization, and analytics. There will be an accelerated shift toward the cloud-native future with a major focus on cloud automation, optimization, and analytics.
Open RAN: providing to deliver affordable connectivity
Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) proof of concept trials and deployments will increase throughout 2021. ORAN can drastically lower both capital and operational costs of deploying wireless networks, so CSPs are planning to invest heavily in this technology. According to a recent Gartner survey, almost 30% of CSPs expect to have full deployments in less than three years. Shrinking the previous ten-year lifecycle to less than three years showcases the enormous potential of ORAN to bring affordable connectivity quickly, especially to underserved areas.
AI and ML: anticipated accelerated evolution
Both artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will continue to evolve as network operators invest in automated orchestration of core, edge, and transport networks. Improved AI and ML will provide better management of complex systems, enable service agility, and support the massive scaling up needed to meet consumer and business demands over the next decade.
There will also be positive demand and growth on AI-driven use cases highlighted by the pandemic, including telehealth, cost control, virtual working, and remote education. New areas where AI can contribute to increased functionality and cost savings include smart cities, process automation, and self-service bots handling customer care and intelligent operations.
Private 5G: nothing but growth ahead
Enterprises using industrial IoT devices have been among the early adopters of private 5G networks. This growth will continue through 2021 as they improve processes and connectivity using 5G capabilities, such as low latency and high throughput. Other sectors, including transportation, energy, and healthcare systems are also adopting 5G, looking for improvements in customer satisfaction, competitive advantages, and profit margins. According to a recent survey by ARC Advisory Group in collaboration with Wind River, about 60% of manufacturers expect to adopt 5G in the next two years, and fully 81 percent expect to do that within the next five years.
Wind River in 2021: working together for a better future
Wind River is a leader in the early 5G landscape, powering the majority of 5G RAN deployments. Wind River Studio, a powerful set of tools, answers the complex challenges of working with physically distributed, ultra-low latency cloud-native infrastructure. With a fully cloud-native, Kubernetes- and container-based architecture and integrated monitoring, analysis, and reporting tools, Wind River Studio supports distributed networks, whether it’s 5G cloud core, edge, or private/public cloud. Deployed at the network edge, Wind River Studio can improve consumer and enterprise experiences through optimized network performance, enhanced security, and cloud capability.
Here at Wind River, we stand ready for what’s next. We are already partnering with customers, building the next evolution of connectivity and technology. Our shared imagination and ability to execute in new and innovative ways will create a world we can only imagine right now. Let’s work together to make it happen.