December 15, 2022

CxOs Reflect on How the 5G Era Demands New Network and IT Environments

Digital transformation projects are sweeping the world. Enterprises in every sector, including telecommunications, are looking for ways to replace both internal and customer-facing analogue processes.

How are the world’s leading telcos approaching this transition, especially as it relates to 5G? TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World event in September provided insights straight from the source.

Andrew Feinberg, President and CEO of Netcracker, hosted a CxO Spotlight panel discussion at the event, featuring the CEOs of four of the world’s most forward-looking communications service providers (CSPs).

  • Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO, du
  • Bader Alzaidi, CEO, Vodafone Oman
  • Jon James, CEO, Nuuday
  • Hesham Fahmy, CIO, TELUS
  • Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum

While the CSPs are approaching 5G-driven digital transformation from different start points, all are working toward the goal of a more connected future.

For example, du and TELUS are well-established carriers in their domestic markets, while Vodafone Oman is a newcomer to the field. Meanwhile Nuuday is a 'servco' – a subsidiary of Denmark's national operator TDC with no physical network to run.

The panelists primarily discussed digital transformation in the context of 5G deployment –specifically the virtualization of the 5G core, edge compute and network slicing, and how these three factors will require CSPs to:

  • Work in larger partner ecosystems
  • Adopt industry standards and methodologies
  • Engage more effectively with customers
  • Implement differentiated cloud services to become more relevant in B2B and vertical markets

All agreed that unlocking this business value will require a network and IT environment that is agile, cost-efficient and highly secure.

TELUS’s Hesham Fahmy began by outlining his company’s transformation to a software-centric and cloud-enabled business. He explained how IT infrastructure can support new lines of business and address the needs of both customers and the internal organization. Al Hassawi from du referenced his company’s near 100 percent 5G roll-out in his home market. Indeed, during 2Q 2022, du achieved more than 90.7 percent coverage.

As a greenfield network, Vodafone Oman is at a different stage of the process. It started to build an entirely new 4G and 5G core and RAN in the Sultanate as recently as 2021.

This all-digital core will demand a new approach to Business Support Systems (BSS), and iswhy Vodafone Oman is now working with Netcracker to implement a cloud-based Digital BSS. Running BSS in the cloud enables greater automation and speed, which will reduce time-to-market for innovative new services.

While Vodafone Oman has the ability to builda network and IT environment from a blank page, Nuuday is working under different circumstances. When Nuuday became a servco, it inherited TDC’s legacy IT system – a mainframe based around PSTN, written in Danish, and largely unchanged since the 1980s.

Fortunately, it is now possible to run OSS and BSS functionality on public cloud platforms, and with a single partner. As a result, Nuuday chose Netcracker to replace the legacy system with a cloud-based, pre-integrated full telco stack and expects the first support systems for its mobile services to be live in 2023.

As for Netcracker, Andrew Feinberg stressed that the company is providing R&D investment, product innovation and best practices to help customers take on complex business transformation programs. He highlighted the work that TM Forum is doing around Open API and Open Digital Architecture (ODA), noting Netcracker’s extensive coverage of TM Forum’s ODA component.

Overall, the CxO session provided great insights into different perspectives on digital transformation. However, despite the differences, all panelists agreed that standards and best practices will be needed to support the 5G world to come.

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