CSPs Must Lay the Groundwork for 5G and IoT Partnerships Now
There is a relatively short window of opportunity for CSPs to deploy effective partner experiences as they enter 5G and IoT markets with partner-driven service strategies.
[Editor’s Note: TM Forum and Netcracker published a new white paper offering guidance to help communications service providers (CSPs) succeed with partner-based B2B strategies. This article is an excerpt and appears as published on TM Forum Inform.]
The potential rewards for developing a digital ecosystem strategy are huge for CSPs, with research showing that key verticals such as industrial automation, remote monitoring, digital health, smart grid, smart city and connected vehicles collectively represent a $1 trillion market by 2023 (see below).
CSPs Can’t Go it Alone
For a recent report called 5G Monetization: Operational Imperatives, TM Forum conducted a survey of 71 CSP executives from 53 unique companies and found that most realize they will not be able to deliver 5G and IoT use cases on their own. Rather they intend to form partnerships or joint ventures to take advantage of the projected growth in these technology-driven B2B markets.
The graphic below shows the percentage of operators that intend to use joint ventures, partnerships and platforms as their primary route to market versus selling directly to customers.
Partnering to Monetize Slices
The success of companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Uber and others in developing digital ecosystems that connect consumers with producers of goods and services is inspiring some CSPs to build multitenant platforms to enable their partners and customers, particularly in IoT verticals.
Operators are taking a couple of approaches: Some are building their own platforms and opening them to developers via standard APIs such as TM Forum’s Open APIs, while others are partnering with existing platform providers such as Amazon Web Services, IBM Bluemix or Microsoft Azure to deliver IoT services.
For CSPs, the biggest challenge may lie in finding a way to use platforms to manage and monetize services that have very different network requirements. Many operators believe the answer is 5G network slicing, which can accommodate a wide variety of requirements in terms of bandwidth, latency and availability.
For example, some IoT applications such as sensor networks don’t require much bandwidth because they only need to transmit small amounts of data, but they need to do so frequently. Video-intensive applications, on the other hand, require a great deal of bandwidth.
An application like remote drone control, for example, also requires low latency, guaranteed availability and guaranteed reliability, because a service outage can be dangerous and result in loss of valuable assets. CSPs intend to address the varied requirements of specific verticals using dynamic network slices that can be orchestrated and assured end to end using automated closed control loops, intent-based management, analytics and policy.
Getting Ahead of the Coming Growth Curve
For CSPs to use network slicing successfully to deliver services to specific verticals, they must lay the groundwork for the partnerships required to deliver the services now. 5G deployment is in its infancy but is expected to pick up substantially in the next two to three years. TM Forum’s research shows that 44 percent of CSPs surveyed intend to launch 5G within the next two years, and a third intend to roll out network slicing at nearly the same time.
Bottom line? There is a relatively short window of opportunity for CSPs to develop strategies and deploy infrastructure that will allow them not only to offer network slices but also to create and deliver partner-driven B2B services over them.