Five Thoughts from the Big 5G Event

The first post-pandemic Big 5G Event was held in Austin, Texas in late May 2022. Apis Training was there, talking to customers and listening to speakers from the industry. With up to five parallel tracks, it was impossible to cover more than a fraction of the interesting sessions. Still – these are some of our thoughts after the week had passed at the Big 5G event.

Edge is hot!

Lots of attention was given to Edge (or Edge Computing) in various shapes and forms. We all seem to agree that edge computing is the way to handle e.g. latency-sensitive applications and/or “data-heavy” workloads.  But the edge can mean different things in terms of both physical location (on-premise, RAN site or in the same part of town) and who owns the (cloud) hardware on which application servers are deployed; the mobile operator, the customer itself or someone else? As is often the case, there is no one-size-fits-all model here. In fact, a variety of deployment models and partnerships can be expected including the use of services from hyperscalers like AWS, MS Azure, and Google Cloud.

Open RAN is hot!

Although the status is somewhat unclear for an outsider. On one hand, there are already existing Open RAN deployments. On the other hand, it seems like this super-open Open RAN ecosystem with an abundance of providers of hardware and software (near-RT and non-RT RAN Intelligent Controllers, xApps, rApps) may still need some time to mature. It is also a matter of discipline from the Open RAN community to make the open interfaces (like A1 and E2) stay truly open, and resist adding proprietary features and tricks! Speakers at the event mentioned that integration of hardware and software from multiple vendors is often a challenge. This brings us to the third remark…

There is Private 5G and then there is Private 5G!

If you have heard different people saying different things about private 5G, it may be because they talked about different things. A private 5G network can be very big or very small, used for a variety of services or be tailor-made for a single application and can be implemented (built, operated, owned) in many different ways, including as a network slice in a public network. Although 3GPP specs are equally relevant for public and private networks, the business logic and drivers are typically quite different. So, any company working with private 5G need to reflect upon what private 5G niche(s) it wants to be in, and make sure it understands the technical and commercial conditions for that particular niche.

System integration will be tricky!

Which is no surprise to anyone who has been around a while. Even a small, perhaps private, 5G network is a complicated system built from processors, memory, cables, fibers, radios, software for generic IT purposes (like cloud management), and 5G specific applications (like all the Network Functions). And with openness and “IT-fication” of telecom infrastructure – system integration on different levels will be a true challenge. Which brings us to the last of our remarks…

Skilled people are hot!

This may require some clarification…  Several companies emphasized that attracting and retaining talent – a.k.a. skilled, competent human beings – is a strategic matter of the highest importance. Despite automation, AI/ML, and self-optimizing networks, humans are very much needed! And let’s face it: we are no longer just telecom people but rather IT people working with the mobile telecom vertical. And competition for talented IT people is fierce! To finish off with an obvious sales pitch, we at Apis Training believe that training staff to understand the bigger picture around their areas of expertise is an investment in people that pays for itself very quickly.

To conclude, lots of added value to share with you! We have more value to share, soon in September, there will be a great webinar again with guest speaker Daniel Person. This webinar is about Private 5G: The next level of Connectivity.

We hope to see you in this webinar!

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