Is your OSS BSS ready and willing to reap the benefits of 5G technology, or is it more of an impediment, stopping you from realizing the full potential of the technology efficiently and in a cost-effective way?
Telecom infrastructure providers worldwide are beginning to roll out 5G networks. This new standard is around 100 times faster than 4G and has 1,000 times more bandwidth, offering an exponential improvement in functionality: far higher capacity and reliability, dramatically lower latency, reduced energy usage and mass connectivity for devices.
Having an OSS BSS software ready to meet the demands of the 5G-enabled space would be a key factor in how quickly and efficiently towercos can meet the high demand from their MNO customers.
5G growth market and its impact on OSS BSS
The current telecommunication software and infrastructure environment is going through one of the most significant transformations to date. OSS BSS assets have been critical to 2G, 3G, and 4G. However, if 5G is truly about new use cases supported by new network capabilities, OSS BSS tools are more important than ever.
Here are some data-points to put things in perspective:
- Over 80% of the market for OSS support of 5G edge computing market in IoT will be on a managed service basis, representing a $3.46B market opportunity
- SDN based control of network slicing combined with NGN OSS BSS has a high ROI and less than a 3-year payback period
- The total global NGN OSS BSS market will reach $64.3B USD
- The fastest-growing OSS support area for 5G network slicing will be in the mid-band RF arena with a CAGR of 56.9% through 2025
- NGN OSS support for fixed wireless networks (FWN) will be a $9.65B global opportunity
- The overall global NGN OSS BSS market will reach $70.2 billion
- Global 5G networks will account for $11.9 billion of NGN OSS BSS
- NGN OSS BSS in mobile networks will reach $36.1 billion globally
And it goes on..
With the construction of 5G networks continuing at a rapid pace, the importance of tower infrastructure is growing with it. As telecom infrastructure providers and towercos transition from 4G to 5G networks and services, the evolution of the 5G technology is creating new opportunities while driving demand for new telecom applications. In order to realize the business benefits of 5G, development of reliable, automated, and fully integrated operations support system and business support system (OSS BSS) capabilities is key.
Implications for Towercos
As the construction of 5G networks continues at a rapid pace, the importance of tower infrastructure is growing. Telecom companies have spent a massive amount on auctions for wireless spectrum known as C-band. They’ll need to upgrade antennas, radios, and other equipment, starting a new growth cycle for the tower companies.
Towercos need to ensure they don’t lose out on this potential revenue when their telco customer wants to upgrade their equipment to support the 5G network. An OSS BSS platform like Red Cube that shows a centralized view of equipment and customer contracts will ensure there is no revenue leakage. Towercos also need a business support solution (BSS) to ensure they are able to service their MNO customers faster and charge them appropriately. Tarantula's Lease and Billing modules enable seamless customer order management.
Having said that, there are some key challenges associated with large scale 5G deployment that need to be addressed for towercos and telecom site management service providers alike to reap maximum benefits associated with this next generation technology.
Here are four of the most pressing challenges:
Increased Energy Demand
Energy efficiency concerns are beginning to show up at conferences about 5G deployments, where methods for reducing energy consumption have become a hot topic. The promise of 5G delivering up to 1,000 times as much data as today’s networks comes with a caveat that it also consumes up to 1,000 times as much energy. 5G base stations, which are installed in the site shelter/cabinet would also require more power. Towercos need to supply this power and have an agile and efficient OSS BSS platform to quickly meet the high demand from their MNO customers.
Speed of Deployment
Research suggests, 5G small-cell deployments will overtake 4G small cells by 2024, with the total installed base of 5G or multimode small cells in 2025 to be 13.1 million, constituting more than one-third of the total small cells in use. Towercos need to ramp up their speed of deployment to support the large volume of 5G small cell sites that will be required, especially in urban areas. Here a robust OSS platform to track their rollout will be key, specifically a location module that will provide towercos with the tools to offer high coverage capabilities to the MNOs.
Optimal Space Utilization on the Mast
The variation of frequency bands used for the communication in 5G is why we see more antennas. When it comes to massive MIMO, the technology involves the use of arrays with many more antennas at each base station. These antennas run on AC power hence the requirement for a rectifier disappears, RRUs and batteries are embedded into the antenna. As 5G equipment on a tower requires smaller antennas but many more in quantity, towercos will need to incorporate robust OSS BSS software and invest in digital analytics to ensure optimal space utilization on the mast. Additionally, towercos will still need to maintain old 2G/3G/4G equipment.
Another key 5G tower consideration is the availability of fibre, as there’s no point in having ultrafast radio speeds if the backhaul isn’t there to support it. Towercos will need to offer fiber backhaul to support 5G speeds. Operators have supported any measure that promotes investment in fibre networks, but they have been even more vocal about the height of masts. This is an opportunity for towercos to add fibre backhaul to their product offering and generate revenue. This requires both OSS and BSS tools for ease of deployment and monetization.
Implications for Telcos
The vision for 5G is to be able to supply connectivity to changing requirements of every user based on their individual use case each having different parameters. This creates an unprecedented number of workflows and processes that must be monitored, analyzed and turned into actionable insights. Existing OSS BSS workflows have become complex and siloed, making it difficult to manage multiple systems in a simple and speedy manner. To meet these requirements, the existing workflow-driven OSS BSS architectures would need to be moved over to an event-driven workflow approach.
Modern MNO software providers need a more agile data approach (think cloud-native), that integrates the operations and business (OSS BSS) functions and allows a lag free transmission between business logic, network status, and real-time data churning/analysis. Only then can they manage the increased complexity in charging and policy controls in milliseconds for triggering real time offers to drive potential new revenue streams and level up all customer management requirements.
In recent years, leading telecommunication software providers and operators have benefitted by implementing virtualisation in their telecommunications networks; transformation enabled by Software-defined networking (SDN) and Network function virtualisation (NFV) has led to faster service request responses, improved automation, better security and reliability and reduced costs. Key challenges traditionally addressed by migrating legacy OSS BSS architecture to SDN/NFV based approach:
- Decreased revenue to cost disparity
- Decreased proprietary hardware in network
- Less effort to launch new services
- Improved flexibility and agility
Incorporating network capabilities into the SDN/NFV architecture means that key OSS BSS ordering and provisioning functions no longer need to pass data up and down a linear stack. While the traditional service delivery is linear, starting with sales and ending with the network providing the service, SDN/NFV backbone replaces the workflow-driven architecture with an event-driven architecture based on network-as-a-service in the age of the 5G network.
By bringing operations and business (OSS BSS) functions together in a shared, event-driven environment, a telecommunications software gains the speed, flexibility and capacity for virtualisation and automation to create new products and partnerships, simplify management and delivery, customise and streamline the customer experience, and reduce operating costs.
Maybe it's time to rethink OSS BSS
5G has little to do with the classic mobile communications as we know it. It is more than an evolution of previous technology; it is a whole set of new networks for different applications. As this technology increasingly becomes the fabric of connectivity that changes our collective future, it requires much more than just upgrading existing networks. In this evolving space, new models are bound to emerge which makes it all the more important to think of operations and business support systems from the lens of the future rather than the past.
The pivotal choice facing telecoms is whether to reinvent their OSS BSS to be adaptive and flexible for meeting the demands of the 5G-enabled ecosystem—or face being left out of the game.