2G, 3G and 4G were all about smartphones while 5G encompasses much more, Mavenir CEO says

Rapidly increasing demand for mobile data, stagnant ARPU and capital and operating cost pressures mark the current state of mobile network economics, Mavenir CEO Pardeep Kohli said in an interview with RCR Wireless News. And, with tremendous growth in the types of devices and data transmission associated with the internet of things, coupled with the pending commercialization of 5G, that has to change.

“The cost on the networks is increasing but the revenues are not,” Kohli said. “Unless they do things differently, it’s not a sustainable business model for operators. With 5G coming in, there will be more and more devices coming in, and it’ll be more than a communications play. It will cause you severe pressure.”

He continued: “There’s a capex portion and an opex portion. You build the sites and you put the capex for it. But then the opex part is even bigger. If you have, for example, dedicated hardware with proprietary hardware and software at each site, let’s say someone has 60,000 sites…you have 60,000 places to go.”

To flip that model, operators need to embrace the softwarization of networks–replacing proprietary site-specific solutions with flexible, off-the-shelf servers loaded with software tools. Essentially, telcos need to think more like web-scale players like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“If you look at 2G, 3G, 4G networks, they’re all designed to serve one type of device…a smartphone,” Kohli said. “5G is meant to address a lot of different devices” with highly variable service requirements. To meet those demands, operators need to build flexible networks that can dynamically support any type of device with any mix of service requirements. That’s where network slicing comes into play. This is the idea of using software to create an optimized data pipe that cuts across the RAN, core and service/application layer. Operators will be able to automatically provision the connectivity needs in a way that makes optimal use of network and spectrum resources. 



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