BRISTOL, UK --(Mar 17, 2020)-- The array of deployment options for 5G is bewildering, and an operator’s timing to adopt new technologies will have a profound effect on its commercial outcome.
The most critical timing decision is when to migrate from 5G Non-Standalone mode (deployed in every live network to date, and using the LTE core) to fully-fledged 5G Standalone with a cloud-native core.
Is it better to be a Tortoise or a Hare when it comes to diving into these key 5G choices? Should an MNO install the most advanced features as soon as they become available, or wait until platforms are more stable and mature? What is the optimal timing to adopt the 5G core, and to move to full cloud operation.
Rethink Technology Research has surveyed 86 service providers about their deployment strategies, covering a combination of converged telcos; mobile-first operators; and alternative deployers with greenfield mobile businesses and no legacy networks to migrate. In each case they have discussed their plans and priorities, and their key business drivers.
The resulting forecast is part of Rethink’s RAN Research service and is entitled, “Is it right to be a Tortoise or Hare in 5G migration? Migration strategies for 5G RAN and core 2019-2026” and is out this week.
The report explains, “Migration to a fully cloud-native, disaggregated, multivendor and 5G environment will take many years and a number of stages, not to mention significant upheaval in internal structures, supply chain, skills and processes. However, while some aspects of the 5G roadmap, such as timelines for a fully converged cellular/wireline/WiFi core, remain very uncertain, in other respects it is clear that operators are starting to set out clear timescales to deploy new elements of the 5G network in line with their particular commercial priorities.”
The report shows what operators’ key priorities are today. They can be largely broken into two camps. The Hares are trying to get to 5G first and claim early advantage; the Tortoises don’t mind conceding a lead, as long as they can remain focused on their own business priorities. But those first mover advantages are far harder to come by in 5G than in 4g, and only highly technical and well-resourced operators can afford to dive into the deep end of full cloud-native 5G.
The report explains how some 5G frontrunners have had to pull back because of technical and business case challenges. In some instances slow and steady will win this race.
In the end the returns for investing in 5G will come deep into the 2020s for the majority of operators, as they start to firm up their plans and business cases and finally begin to deploy the truly disruptive technologies of a cloud-native 5G core, as well as full convergence with edge computing and network slicing.
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