Disaggregation has accelerated telco tech innovation, says Colt exec

  • DSP Leaders World Forum 2020 session focuses on innovation in the telecom sector
  • Colt executive highlights how disaggregation has helped free up operators to innovate more
  • But the use of innovative new technologies also comes with additional challenges
  • Network technology startups need more funding

The introduction of SDN, NFV and disaggregation to the telecom systems world has helped to fuel innovation in the industry, senior executives from Colt and Lumina Networks noted during the DSP Leaders World Forum 2020 session Emerging Tech: The New Wave of Innovation.

Mirko Voltolini, Global Head of Network On Demand at Colt, noted that telco innovation has “changed dramatically over the last few years,” from an internally focused process to one that is more customer-oriented: “Co-creation with customers has become instrumental – you can’t just focus internally and work with a [systems] supplier,” he noted. 

Voltolini pointed out that the “componentization of technology… the disaggregation has enabled service providers to really innovate. Before we have been much more reliant on vendors and monolithic systems… [innovation] has been driven by the vendor… now we have more opportunities with disaggregation.”

Lumina CEO Andrew Coward noted that the disaggregation that has come hand-in-hand with SDN and NFV developments has resulted in a set of “building blocks that enable us to then deliver new service characteristics that can be so important for the monetization of 5G.”

But that disaggregation also brings challenges, noted Voltolini: “We need to be able to bring all those components together and integration has become challenging.”

Both Voltolini and Coward noted that common APIs are key to overcoming that integration challenge, while the topics of open source, AI, chip-level innovation and blockchain were also debated.

Importantly, Coward noted that the funding for innovative startups these days often goes to companies with a new application proposal, rather than emerging network technology specialists. “When we think about funding and the VC community, that money is not going to companies that are really driving innovation inside the network and infrastructure and that’s a problem. It’s not up to the large incumbent vendors to drive that innovation – it’s just not in their nature at the pace that is needed,” said the Lumina man, noting that, in his view, there isn’t enough discussion right now about 6G. 

For the full panel discussion, click here

Innovation in the telecoms industry is just one of the topics to be discussed during our upcoming Extra Shot programs, which will look back at the highlights of the online DSP Leaders event and include the views of special guests. Look out for further details of the Extra Shot programs. 

  • Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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