Integration still weighs on open telco infra – poll result

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Dec 4, 2023

  • TelecomTV’s second Open Telco Infra Summit has just concluded 
  • As usual, we ran a poll during the summit
  • We asked again about the barriers that could thwart the development of a broader open telco infrastructure ecosystem
  • Once again, concerns about integration challenges and the dominance of the incumbent vendors attracted the most votes

Network operator concerns about integration and interoperability, as well as the ongoing dominance of incumbent major vendors, are still the main barriers to a significant expansion of an open telco infrastructure ecosystem, according to the results of a poll conducted during TelecomTV’s recent Open Telco Infra Summit

The development of open, disaggregated systems and multivendor blueprints is regarded by many (including most of the world’s largest telcos) as being critical to meeting their future network architecture needs, as well as helping to foster innovation and expand the telecom vendor ecosystem: Progress, however, has been patchy and certainly the open telco infra vendor ecosystem is not as mature and diverse as many had hoped by this stage.  

So at this year’s online event, we asked the exact same poll question as we did during last year’s Open Telco Infra Summit to enable us to make a year-on-year comparison: What are the main barriers to realising a broad and diverse open telco infrastructure ecosystem?

We offered up seven options and respondents could vote for as many as they thought were relevant. 

The principal takeaway is that the main concerns haven’t changed at all in the past year: The option ‘CSP concerns about interoperability/integration’ attracted votes from 58% of our respondents, as the chart above shows, the exact same percentage as last year!

In addition, the second most popular option, ‘Ongoing dominance of the incumbent major vendors’, was once again the second most popular, except this year it attracted votes from 55% of our respondents, up from 51% in last year’s poll. 

However, after the top two responses, the voting patterns were different to a year ago. 

The third most popular option in this year’s poll was ‘No clear financial incentives for new vendors/investors’, which attracted votes from 35% of respondents (last year it was the fourth most popular option with votes from 40% of participants). 

The joint fourth options, both attracting votes from 33% of respondents, were ‘Too much procurement bureaucracy from CSPs’ and ‘Fears that new entrants will not survive’ – both of those options attracted more support last year. 

For open infrastructure supporters, the fact that the option ‘Insufficient support from CSPs’ is deemed to be a major barrier to realising a broad and diverse open telco infrastructure ecosystem by 24% of poll respondents might not seem like much of a concern, but this option attracted votes from just 9% of last year’s respondents. Does this suggest that network operators are now less interested in open telco infrastructure developments than they were a year ago? It certainly seems to, despite the ongoing efforts and advances of companies such as Telefónica – see Telefónica claims open telco networking milestone.

The final poll option, ‘Immature innovation pipeline for new entrants’, attracted votes from 22% of those who participated, a higher score than last year’s 15%. 

Overall, while progress in the development and deployment of open telco infra technology is being made, it seems there are still many hurdles to be overcome and our poll suggests that some of those barriers might even be getting higher. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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