February 6, 2024

Capturing the NaaS Opportunity

At MEF’s Global NaaS event in Dallas, Netcracker’s Senior Vice President of Strategy Ari Banerjee joined an expert panel to discuss how industry wide APIs can deliver on the promise of NaaS.

Network-as-a-Service is a significant new opportunity enabled by telco cloud. The concept first emerged in the early 2010s, when the project to virtualize telecom networks began. We are now entering the NaaS 2.0 phase, which will see communications service providers (CSPs) use AI and cloud-native networks to redefine the connectivity services they offer. 

NaaS is a response to new demands from enterprise customers who expect cloud-like experiences for on-demand network products. They want the flexibility to make real-time and application-driven changes, access end-to-end performance visibility and be offered a range of commercial models such as pay-as-you-go and monthly subscription options.

Building NaaS can be challenging. CSPs will need to overhaul their legacy BSS/OSS infrastructure before they can truly align – typically via network APIs – all stakeholders in the value chain. 

There is now a concerted, industry-wide effort to build these APIs. Member association MEF is leading the charge via projects such as its MEF Network-as-a-Service Industry Blueprint. It also hosts regular events to bring NaaS industry leaders together, like its recent Global Network-as-a-Service (GNE) Event in Dallas, Texas.

The conference included a series of panel discussions, which sought to explore the key challenges and opportunities of NaaS.

In the session titled: Automating Business and Operational Functions Between Ecosystem Partners with LSO APIs, Blockchain & Smart Contracts, moderator Grant Lenahan, Partner & Principal Analyst at Appledore Research Group, opened with research that outlined the commercial case for NaaS. It showed that CSPs alone can generate an extra $101 billion by 2027 if they pursue this opportunity.

As Lenahan summarized: “Customers need to order, to settle, to have a contract, have SLA information. These are the API pieces we need to automate end-to-end if we want to get all of that money and achieve low-cost efficiency.”

In terms of looking at how CSPs can embrace NaaS automation, the panel agreed that a good approach is to start small, especially in a complex BSS/OSS environment.  Banerjee said that the challenge has been made greater by the emergence of a new factor: intent-based automation. He said: “How do you hide the complexities of your fulfillment flow but have the right intent in place? It's complicated when you are looking at complex brownfield operator scenarios, where most are not standards-based.”

Banerjee went on to describe how Netcracker is working on new GenAI solutions that can make intent-based automation easier. The success of these solutions will depend on the telcos’ ability to access valuable BSS/OSS data in their training models. By incorporating this data, they can create meaningful use cases in customer care, marketing, operations and more.

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