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MWC 2023: Google Cloud unveils new telecom innovations, collaboration with StarHub

When it comes to innovation in the telecom industry, big tech companies like Google Cloud continue to introduce new capabilities for communication service providers (CSPs). This includes cloud, edge analytics and even the use of AI to improve customer experience.

For CSPs, the end  goal is clear. It is about how they can modernize their network provide customers better connectivity and remain profitable. CSPs would also want to achieve this in the least complicated way possible and without having to invest heavily in new technologies. While 5G remains a profitable avenue for CSPs, there are other areas in which they can monetize products for both consumers and enterprises.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023, Google Cloud announced three new telecom products to help communication service providers (CSPs) digitally transform their networks with hybrid-cloud principles and unlock new revenue opportunities. The new telecom innovations, Telecom Network Automation, Telecom Data Fabric and Telecom Subscriber Insights, will offer CSPs a unified cloud solution that helps them build, deploy, and operate their hybrid cloud-native networks; collect and manage network data; and improve customer experiences through artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics.

In addition, Google Cloud is providing CSPs the ability to deploy true cloud-native networks in a hybrid cloud environment. With an update to Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDC Edge), CSPs are now able to bring Google Cloud’s infrastructure to the far edge of their radio access networks (RANs), in addition to their 5G core networks. Companies will also be able to run their network functions in any Google Cloud region on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) with the introduction of Network Function Optimizer for GKE.

According to Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, CSPs are under enormous pressure to success in a connected world. As such, CSPs need to build and manage next-generation networks against rising capital and operational expenses.

“By applying cloud-native principles to network architectures, and accelerating subscriber growth through a holistic data management source, CSPs have the opportunity to bridge the gap between connectivity of today and connectivity of the future,” said Kurian.  

Now available in private preview globally, the Telecom Network Automation accelerates network and edge deployments by leveraging cloud-native automation tools based on Kubernetes and industry learnings from Nephio, an open-source project Google Cloud founded in 2022 in partnership with The Linux Foundation. Telecom Network Automation is the managed cloud-version of Nephio that helps improve time-to-market, multi-vendor interoperability, reduce error-prone configurations, and lower operational costs.

Meanwhile, Telecom Data Fabric helps CSPs quickly derive insights from their data. The product simplifies data collection, normalization, and correlation through an adapter framework. For better reusability, the data is exposed through unified data models, leveraging BigQuery and DataPlex data mesh architecture that meets CSPs’ needs for data governance and sovereignty. In addition, Telecom Data Fabric—coupled with Vertex AI—enables CSPs and ISV developers to create AI and ML analytics applications that support cross-domain network operations, energy efficiency, subscriber experiences, and monetization.

The third innovation, Telecom Subscriber Insights is an AI-powered product that helps CSPs extract insights using their own existing data sources in a privacy-safe manner. The product ingests and analyzes data with AI models to provide recommended actions and helps CSPs engage with their subscribers across a multitude of channels. The result is CSPs can better understand subscriber behavior, cross-sell and upsell, manage churn, and acquire new customers more effectively.

APACs CSPs including Axiata Group, Chunghwa Telecom, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchinson, KDDI, Maxis, Optus, Reliance Jio, StarHub, Telkom Indonesia and Telstra have chosen Google Cloud as a trusted partner to advance their digital transformation and innovation initiatives.

Google Cloud and StarHub

Google Cloud also announced a new collaboration with Singapore’s StarHub to support the creation of an open, secure, scalable, and energy-efficient cloud-native network for enterprises in Singapore. Aligned with StarHub’s Cloud Infinity transformation initiative—which aims to boost the delivery, scalability, and performance of services while reducing operational costs—cloud-native networks have become critical for CSPs to thrive in a connected world. StarHub will pilot Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDC Edge) and Nokia 5G Standalone Core to create a unique, multi-access, software-based 5G cloud core network.

GDC Edge builds on Google Cloud’s existing telecommunications solutions, and can empower companies like StarHub to run core network functions at the edge in the carrier’s network. This brings Google Cloud’s stable and secure infrastructure even closer to where data is being generated and consumed. By moving its 5G core network to a cloud platform, StarHub’s subscribers and enterprise customers across manufacturing, retail, hospitality, transportation, and other industries will be able to reap the benefits of its newly scalable, secure, low-latency, and globally accessible, software-driven network.

StarHub will also explore leveraging Google Cloud’s rich expertise in data management, AI, and ML across its network operations. As part of the collaboration, StarHub will be able to break down information silos and drive insights gleaned from this new interoperability. Additionally, understanding the breadth of its data points will help StarHub simplify the management of day-to-day network operations.