In little less than few years, the whole dynamics of the Telecom industry has changed. There have been many contributing factors to the same although it started with smartphone revolution, OTT apps and Mobile data consumption, such that networks needed to upgrade faster (2G-3G-4G), 3G to 4G was literally overlapped. Network Throughput and Capacity replaced the “Only coverage” as primary KPI.
Operators have tried every trick and solution to keep upgrading networks with lesser cost. Using Wi-Fi as offloading layer, small cell deployments and even Unlicensed LTE. Still, the things which didn’t change were:
1) There is an Operator
2) and there is a Vendor and then both lived happily..
But, going by the indications and solutions in the market the word’s such as Operator and Vendor are bound to vanish.
“Hardware is as good as Software that runs on it and operators now wish to own software along with already owned hardware.”
From operator’s point of view:
Operators use to buy Hardware equipment from vendors but vendor still owned the software. It is like buying car body with the engine still owned by Car company.
Another issue is One solution fit all deployments/Network doesn’t work now. Vendors haven’t moved with the same pace as the evolution. Operator’s who are already stressed still pay for proprietary solutions on the top they have to pay extra for each customization or upgrade.
So what has changed?
With a wave of software-defined networks, open source solutions, COTs and design your own solutions, the operators have realized that they need not be dependent on vendors to provide solutions. Operators started with investing in software-defined solutions are now creating their own customized solutions. One step beyond they are selling the same to other operators as well.
ATT has built and deployed their custom open source solutions.
Telefonica has built Big data platform and sharing the solution with other solution providers.
BT is working with Lime to create Software-defined radios
From vendor’s point of view:
If we are observing closely vendors have long delayed and avoided the path of open hardware, open software concept. But the clock was always ticking, the vendors are struggling to make numbers and innovation. The prime reason is again operators have their custom requirements, vendors solutions are still not adaptive and if vendors go opensource they can’t charge big money by claiming proprietary solutions game card. For making the solutions adaptive they take long development cycles and operators have to incur the cost as well.
If we observe sales, revenue and innovation index of vendors we can clearly know that numbers are hit badly and vendors were slow to respond to the open source evolution.
Then there are others with deep pockets which just acquire innovative companies 🙂
But on the positive side, many big giants have started the next level of Network services and always been innovative. Not sure but they are the next generation of Solution Provider, it has started with unlicensed spectrum but I am sure with CBRS and future network these solution providers will have a deeper role to play.
Google station Wi-Fi is one such example.
Facebook is doing its part
The future is exciting, the future is innovative, the future is open and dynamic, the future is solution provider.