Is open source the key to optimizing Asia’s 5G networks?
Across Asia, 5G networks continue to see varying rates of adoption. While some countries have already adopted and deployed several use cases of 5G networks, others are still in their testing phases.
In Asia, South Korea became the first country to deploy 5G networks. According to a report by GlobalData, by 2023, the APAC region is predicted to have 477 million 5G subscriptions.
The report also found strong indicators that Asia will set the global benchmark for 5G, with deployments expected in China, Japan, and India.
In Southeast Asia, 5G networks in Singapore are already seeing new use cases and verticals being enabled in different industries.
For example, Singtel’s 5G standalone network, which is expected to be 10 times faster than 4G, covers over two-thirds of the island. Nationwide coverage by the telcos’ various 5G networks is expected to be achieved by 2025.
To further demonstrate the region’s commitment to 5G development, various device manufacturers in Asia, including ZTE, have previously announced 5G-ready devices. This is another indicator displaying Asia’s 5G market preparedness.
In 2022, Asia is expected to make up for just under half of all 5G subscriptions worldwide. Regional revenue from 5G subscriptions is estimated to reach $4.5 billion by 2022, with a growth of over 280 million subscriptions (or 49% of global totals).
Though this only accounts for a small portion of all mobile subscribers, its rapid growth is still encouraging.
Different countries have different approaches to developing and laying out their own 5G infrastructures. Of note is the fact that certain telcos are looking for an open-source infrastructure for 5G.
To understand more about how telco companies can benefit from an open-source 5G infrastructure, Tech Wire Asia speaks to Ben Panic, Senior Director for Telco Sales Vertical for APAC at Red Hat.
What is an open-source 5G infrastructure and is it inter-operable?
An open-source 5G infrastructure (or, open telco), refers to the use of open-source solutions to foster flexible platforms. These platforms will provide a strong 5G architecture foundation that telcos can leverage to bring new services to market. Open source 5G platforms will also provide operators with the flexibility and ability to drive innovation from a multi-vendor solution.
Telcos can tap into software-based cloud-native functions from their network equipment provider (NEPs) and independent software vendor (ISV) communities, all of whom enable 5G infrastructures.
Cloud-Native Functions (CNF) combines advanced cloudification of network functions with the automation capabilities of cloud computing platforms.
By deploying an open-source and standards-based platform for CNFs, telcos will have a stable, interoperable foundation to build on.
How will telco companies and businesses benefit from using open-source 5G infrastructures?
Telecommunications service providers are accustomed to change, and Red Hat has been supporting customers globally as 5G and Edge increasingly become the industry standard.
As this rate of change accelerates, an open-source approach helps digital service providers respond to new customer demands.
Open source provides a stable foundation that also allows for efficiency and scalability.
In addition to these benefits, infrastructure modernization creates the following opportunities for telcos:
- Drives New Revenue – The open telco cloud approach provides the operator with the opportunity to leverage their private cloud for internal and external workloads. These external client-facing workloads can drive new enterprise use cases to build new revenue streams. There are use cases for retail security, agriculture, mining, transport, local government, manufacturing, and logistics that all leverage the 5G network. Tapping into the partner ecosystem that surrounds open source provides more choice for an operator than a legacy approach, where the focus would have been on a vertical silo approach.
- Increases agility and flexibility – Virtualization technologies can provide the scalability, manageability, and automation of infrastructure that can help service providers keep pace with both expected and unplanned growth and market changes. Meanwhile, container technology enables apps to be strategically deployed and moved across environments to keep up with demand.
- Delivers increased customer value – For example, automated management tools can help telcos launch, deliver, and scale services quickly and reliably across the cloud-based infrastructure. Moreover, having an integrated environment for building and deploying containerized applications can enable telcos to rapidly create compelling new services using modern app development approaches.
- Reduces costs – Cloudifying their infrastructure with an open framework will allow telcos to increase resource utilization, and improve overall efficiency with a common, unified infrastructure.
So how much cost savings are we talking about here with open source 5G infra?
If we look at APAC, Vodafone Idea (VI) has saved over 85% CAPEX in their 4G core by virtualizing the network and leveraging our Red Hat OpenStack Platform. They also decreased their service creation time from months to weeks to deploy a new core in the mobile network. The time to market-saving is a major benefit, as it allowed VI to monetize their investment faster.
Another example I can share is from a customer in Belgium. Proximus is Belgium’s largest telecommunications provider, and they wanted to replace a costly legacy network environment with a more flexible, scalable network functions virtualization (NFV) approach.
By standardizing its NFV strategy on the Red Hat OpenStack Platform supported by Red Hat Ceph Storage, Proximus can now cost-effectively run critical service functions, lowering associated costs by 20%.
By using Red Hat OpenShift for its web properties and cloud-native development environment, Proximus is also able to deploy and run container-based microservices at scale, saving approximately US$35,000 in monthly infrastructure setup and maintenance costs.
Given the speed and development of telco services regionally, and the appetite for digital-first services enabled by telcos, we’re certainly excited about helping APAC with open source 5G cost-saving measures.