Monetizing 5G: New Approaches for Assuring Ultra Reliable Connectivity
In this interview with Yuval Stein, Associate Vice President of Technologies at TEOCO, we discuss new research happening in crisis response and telecommunications, and how 5G is paving a path for new business models and monetization opportunities for service providers.
Q) TM Forum’s catalyst program consists of proof-of-concept projects that bring together companies large and small to create innovative solutions to common challenges. This year’s theme is about automating how 5G is managed, and how operators can provide creative solutions to their enterprise customers. What is the use case for TEOCO’s catalyst – and what are its main objectives?
Yuval: This year’s use case supports the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry. Our goal was to ensure business continuity by creating a dynamic fallback solution for EV charging stations during landline failure caused by a catastrophic event, such as severe weather.
The catalyst project, called “5G Ride On!,” showcases how 5G technology can be paired with autonomous networks to provide business continuity services to support enterprise customers. It is championed by British Telecom (BT), ORANGE, and Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) and demonstrates the business and operational orchestration processes needed to deliver a reliable 5G connection.
Q) What role can service providers play in the electric vehicle industry?
Yuval: Each year we study a different use case. This year we looked at electric vehicles and how the telecom industry, using 5G and network slicing, can help ensure enterprises maintain the connectivity they need for their customers – even during times when normal service is disrupted.
We focused on showing how CSPs could offer their enterprise customers ultra-reliable connectivity with improved SLAs in an environment that could self-heal from outages and still assure service performance. We believe that this is a common community and enterprise IoT need that is prime for operationalization and monetization, and our catalyst looked at ways we could achieve this through intent based management, artificial intelligence, big data, and 5G technologies.
Q) While this year’s catalyst was about electric vehicles, could this use case apply to other verticals?
Yuval: Yes, absolutely. We decided to focus on electric vehicles because it is such a growing industry. Before too long, people will be more dependent on electric vehicles than gas powered ones. ABI Research estimates there will be 41 million 5G-connected cars on the road by 2030, with more than double that by 2035. Electric mobility is expanding rapidly, and this also means that the EV charging infrastructure is growing rapidly. As these vehicles become increasingly popular, we must look at what that means from a support network.
But aside from the growth of EV, we as an industry are just beginning to explore the potential of 5G use cases. Network slicing will play a role in all manner of industry verticals, not just transportation.
We took the leap in this catalyst to show how telecom companies can become full ICT providers and play a bigger role than they are today. Fortunately, 5G technology can help ensure mission critical services are available when and where they are needed most. This is what our research with the TeleManagement Forum has been focused on for the past three years.
Q) Can you set the stage for this catalyst? What use case did you focus on?
Yuval: In this case we looked at using 5G as a backup for fixed connectivity at EV charging stations, which could be lost during a storm or other event. We use a reliable network slice that serves as a backup to the fixed connectivity. We needed the ability to dynamically adapt to the emergency event, and instantly switch to 5G as a backup communication channel between the charging stations and the charging station management system.
A second related use case is about supporting the EV charging information that is required for EV drivers using a 3rd party mobile charging app, directing users to areas where EV charging is available and allows them to pay through their phone.
While this may seem like a simple use case, many issues had to be considered to support a charging infrastructure that could move the connection of the mobile application’s backend management system to the network edge in case of forecasted outages that could arise during a severe storm. The first step was to use predictive analytics to detect potential communication loss between these two points. Once this loss was predicted, we automatically deployed an edge-based local app through TOSCA. This move to the edge required the forwarding and offloading of resources using a dedicated network slice that ensured reliability and SLA preservation could be maintained.
Q) How are the network slices defined – and how can services be assured when the network itself is at risk?
Yuval: Our focus was on creating a slice dedicated to service reliability, which doesn’t fall neatly into the main categories of the 3GPP slices.
With this in mind, we looked at how to automate service creation and slice adaptation, using potential extensions to the GSMA slice templates, TOSCA based orchestration and TM Forum APIs. In this case, automation helps us achieve the reliability that is required by the customers.
On the assurance side, we demonstrate how complex enterprise digital service SLAs can be deconstructed from business operations and order management service level objectives (SLOs), to then be managed by TEOCO’s Helix Service Assurance platform.
Unlike network resources, service level agreements are more abstract. Helix takes the slice SLOs to create an “intent” and translates these into an actionable monitoring plan. There is a lot of subject matter expertise behind these translations to provide an understanding of when service may be impacted. The monitoring capability then manages the different SLO violation scenarios, supporting both automated, closed control loop and service operations center (SOC) requirements. And of course, all of this is aligned with the evolving artifacts of TM Forum’s Autonomous Networks project.
Q) Now that the catalyst has been completed, what are your key takeaways?
Yuval: We’ve shown that the increased automation of orchestration and assurance in 5G network slicing creates a strong use case for enterprise verticals, and of course service providers have a critical role to play in this ecosystem. It’s all about coming together in a collaborative way, and that is why these catalysts, and the TM Forum, are so critical.
Yuval Stein, AVP Technologies, TEOCO