IT’S that time of the year again when innovation-driven companies articulate what lies ahead for the industry.
At the beginning of the year, Nokia forecast five technology developments to hit the telco industry in 2022. As a follow-up, the company now looks ahead at the top trends likely to gain traction in 2023 and beyond.
Edge orchestration at center stage. Edge computing hosts and allows the execution of applications at the edge of the network to facilitate data collection, processing, storage and analytics close to end-user devices. Simultaneously, edge cloud brings the capabilities and benefits of cloud services closer to the user equipment, and in the case of 5G, closer to the radio-enabled industrial devices and IIoT (Industrial IoT) application functions.
It is this proximity of the edge cloud, together with edge computing, which provides advantages such as low latency, availability and reliability, to the user applications and delivers requisite performance use cases like IoT, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), and industry 4.0. With 5G monetization as the prize, edge cloud computing technology will proliferate rapidly as communications service providers (CSPs) deploy 5G networks with dozens of central and thousands of distributed cloud-edge sites. To be able to successfully deploy and manage various edge computing use cases, services, and applications, it is evident that orchestrating resources over geographically distributed, small-footprint edge data centers will be the next challenge for CSPs and large enterprises. Such deployments will require an evolved level of intelligent context-aware automation and real-time convergence of network, services, and application resources at the network edge to meet a multitude of user demands delivered with high agility and lower operational cost.
Digital twins to guide network operations. In the telco world, a digital twin is a virtual representation of a network (services and applications) based on real-time data from multiple sources like ML data lakes, edge clouds, IoT devices, subscriber data, sensors and more. The aim is to use simulation and machine learning to visualize and predict the effects of different scenarios without having to implement them in physical networks.
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As CSPs adopt and accelerate digital transformation to address complex 5G consumer and industry vertical use cases, digital twins could monitor and augment such complex systems in real time. This will help CSPs to better understand the network, processes, and customers — and how they impact one another.
Early use cases at Nokia Core Networks include network monitoring with anomaly prediction and self-healing, visual network planning and configuration for impact analysis prior to network deployment, and simulation of energy consumption and cost of running the services based on function.
5G satellite access to reach new heights. Nokia expects a boom in satellite access for on-terrestrial networks (NTNs) that use space/airborne vehicles for transmission as well as devices that connect directly to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. 5G NTN standardization for 5G Advanced (R18) technology is being seen as an integrated part of 6G to provide connectivity everywhere. 5G NTN satellite access creates many possibilities, including global 5G connectivity in areas without terrestrial coverage, fixed wireless access, and IoT low data rate services for long battery life.
Building more capabilities on top of Core SaaS. Core Network Software-as-a-Service (Core SaaS) offers hardware, software, and services bundled into a pay-as-you-grow subscription. In 2023 and beyond, services will be distributed, deployed and run across multiple resources, and CSPs will evolve from Core SaaS to N+aaS (Networks-and-more-as-a-Service) providers with cloud, connectivity, context, and data assets offered to enterprises. The current way of delivering Core SaaS from public clouds will be extended to use local resources to provide low latency, efficient data transfer and for enhanced security and privacy demands of future applications in augmented reality, gaming, or automation that require local anchors.
Network of networks and cloud federation to make new things possible. For CSPs to facilitate N+aaS, the network of networks or Cloud Federations will be a key development in delivering and sharing complex resources from multiple cloud environments such as public clouds, private clouds and hybrid cloud, as well as on-premises data centers. With the adoption of federated cloud ecosystems, users can take advantage of increased reliability, the flexibility to deploy assets on multiple cloud providers according to their business requirements, and services that leverage multiple assets as distributed service chains. However, cloud federation is an emerging topic so much effort is still needed to seamlessly integrate multiple assets with the right security and entitlement for users.