Network Evolution Trends that are Ruling the Real-Time Communications World

Network Evolution Trends that are Ruling the Real-Time Communications World

February 15th, 2017

The majority of my time is spent helping our more than 700 service provider customers better serve their customers through more agile, efficient and powerful communications networks. Serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Network for GENBAND has given me unique insights into the issues and pain points that are facing today’s service providers. Every day my team and I help customers ranging from the largest operators in the world to rural service providers solve their communications issues and improve their networks.

One common theme that I am struck by is that for years in the industry we have referred to transitioning to next-generation communications services and technology as Network Transformation, but to me it is no longer about “transformation” it is more about “evolution” and how service providers evolve their legacy networks. Whether its via Class 5 soft switches, VoLTE, IPX, Interconnect, IMS or some other technology – every customer has a strategy that they feel best supports their business model and they are looking for trusted partners to help them execute that strategy, regardless of their chosen network evolution path.  

Here are five top trends we’re seeing as the GENBAND teams travel around the world visiting with customers large and small. Networks are evolving, but the manner in which they are evolving varies greatly.

  1. Local Still Trumps Global as the Last Mile Continues to Challenge the Industry
Many service providers are constrained by legacy networks that are expensive to maintain, difficult to extend, or are past their lifecycles. Keeping legacy networks on life support may feel like the right decision when budgets are tight…and it’s not easy to move to an all-IP environment. The rewards long term (and even short term) are too compelling to ignore. IP Network Evolution can significantly consolidate and modernize infrastructure, eliminating complexity and cost, and paving the way for an increasingly number of valuable IP services that help service providers improve business and residential offerings and accelerate time-to-market, while dramatically reducing recurring, truck rolls, power, HVAC, space and staffing costs. Local network migration, done properly, can save money that can then be invested in developing new services that can be deployed in a fraction of the time compared to legacy approaches.

  1. Experience Matters

Although many service providers may feel the need to migrate their legacy networks to next generation technology, given the competitive and costs pressures that they are under today, they may not have the budget for a full scale network evolution. And with employees who are trained on legacy network equipment increasingly retiring, they are looking for trusted partners who can assist them in maintaining their existing networks, while helping them migrate to newer technologies.  By embracing partners with a tradition of patented-protected technology and innovation along with years of proven professional services experience service providers can bring more and more value to businesses and consumers.

  1. Enhanced Voiced Services is Table Stakes

Mobile service providers are constantly evolving their networks to enable a better user experience for their customers. But as these networks evolve there are still quality issues like spotty coverage, call reliability and call quality. As a result, a number of service providers are turning to Enhanced Voice Services or EVS because of the benefits it offers.  EVS is an advanced codec that offers service providers the ability to improve the user experience with better call quality and reliability and improved network efficiency. 

While today’s HD Voice implementations using Wide Band AMR (WB-AMR) codecs on mobile networks was progressive a few years ago, the “next next” generation IP communications infrastructure is transitioning to offer enhanced high definition quality voice services, including EVS based on 3GPP with lower bandwidth and capacity requirements. EVS transcoding solutions revolutionize the voice communication experience with dramatically improved quality and network economics.

  1. NFV Is Here Stay

There is no other future for “telecom” than managing cloud-based and hybrid cloud networks.  Network Functions Virtualization or NFV drives efficiencies, improves service agility and fundamentally changes the way they do business.  By consolidating network functions onto virtualized, cloud-based offerings, service providers can reduce proprietary hardware dependencies, contain CAPEX and OPEX, and increase service velocity. The end game? Elasticity, scalability, geo-distribution and orchestration for cloud and virtualized environments.

Only with NFV can service providers keep pace with the requirement to deliver better and better service quality at affordable prices, embedding the ability to provide transcoding, interconnect, and roaming services in a distributed and secure manner, at efficient scale and with elasticity from the telco cloud. At the same time, NFV-based transcoding solutions with Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) like Session Border Controllers (SBC), media and call control elements at the edge of the networks mitigate challenges including security threats, signaling and media interoperability, while supporting new VoLTE roaming architectures.

  1. LTE Maybe Evolving into MTE (Medium Term Evolution) as the Pace of Innovation Quickens

As the demand for IP multimedia communications services grow, mobile operators are evolving their networks to enable Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services. Advanced Media Software (AMS) solutions enable operators with a high capacity media session handling with clustered and shared transcoding. Media Resource Function (MRF) solutions offer a centralized and distributed transcoding platform, allowing transcoding resources to be efficiently sized and scaled according to network needs.

Last year, we addressed an enormous demand for innovation, enabling service providers and enterprises to “rule” their networks, regardless of which “evolution” path they chose.

This year we are continuing to collaborate with our customers and prospects to capitalize on and stay ahead of the trends that are impacting our industry. By this time next year, we’ll be looking back at even more acceleration of the “evolution” of networks and will recognize the value created by the applications brought to life over next generation networks – which is when this journey becomes even more exciting. 

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