Here’s an existential question: if you don’t think or talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), do you even exist?
With the increasing number of IoT use cases on display at telco events, that could soon be the reality. It’s no surprise to hear that, according to the findings from the Mobile World Live Annual Industry Survey, IoT is the most attractive new business area for businesses in 2017. IoT, together with 5G, NFV/SDN, artificial intelligence, analytics, and automation, was among the most frequently discussed, debated and showcased topics at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
Discussions at MWC17 focused not on IoT theory, but rather the practical development of IoT applications and solutions, along with tangible real-life use cases. IoT solutions are expected to make life easier, healthier and smarter, and help to conserve the scarcest resource in an individual’s life: time. The solutions keep cities cleaner, safer and more secure. Tens of billions of sensors and connected devices will allow the digital economy to impact every aspect of our lives and improve the quality of life.
A number of these use cases were on showcase at MWC17, ranging from health services to IoT-enabled camera drones, location services to smart lighting, fitness to augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), smart factories to connected dogs, and autonomous cars to self-service retail stores, to mention a few. Never before MWC had exhibited so much IoT, with leading Tier-1 operators demoing a range of practical solutions including a theft prevention solution for cars, mopeds and bikes, smart rubbish collection, livestock tracking, remote city lighting control, and remote health monitoring.
The conversation also revolved around the IoT network, including looks at LoRa, Sigfox, NB-IoT, LTE-M and 5G. 5G was heavily discussed throughout MWC17, in particularly in relation to certain IoT use cases like driverless cars, robo-taxis and remote surgical operations that mandate ultra-low ’millisecond’ latency, vast amounts of data, and frictionless, stable and high bandwidth data speeds. For example, Renault-Nissan has set a goal to roll out 10 car models with autonomous driver functionality by 2020. At the same time, LoRa Alliances and Sigfox are both rapidly expanding globally: LoRa, with its 400+ strong member alliance, has 34 publicly announced operators and Sigfox is already available in over 30 countries.
Discussions around advanced sensor technology noted the remarkable size and duration of the batteries that power these devices. IoT-enabled sensors are extremely small, but their batteries can last for up to 10 years, enabling the long-term monitoring of movement, location, temperature, skin moisture, activity, blood pressure, heart beat and many more factors. We also learned about a new material called Graphene – invented in 2004 and later the subject of a Nobel prize in physics – that enables the development of entirely new active sensors that could even be installed inside the human body.
Far away are times when MWC was just a showcase for telecom technology. Other industries presence has become a norm, the IoT is enabling the creation of intelligent and connected systems that will mean the entry of more new players, startups and industries at MWC. Car manufacturers, financial service providers, media companies, medical companies, smart city operators, transportation companies, retailers, industrial companies, agricultural entities and many more are involved or starting to get involved as they try to get their hands on with the latest transformative IoT solution.
At the same time, operators certainly need to talking to those businesses to seek new avenues of revenue growth. By enabling digital services for IoT, telcos can dramatically expand their number of potential customers enjoying digital services. In time, operators will see, meet and cooperate with many more of these use-case driven players in events like MWC.
We’re winding down after an incredibly exciting and energetic few days in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017. The team here at Comptel has set a goal to out-do itself at every annual MWC by making an even bigger impact than the year before. We definitely feel we accomplished that this year, with so much going on:
Check out how our booth, which doubled as a video game screen, came together:
Thanks to all those who paid a visit to our booth – it was well-visited, meeting rooms were fully-booked and we had a busy few days showcasing our solutions to customers, partners, analysts and media.
As for the full show, #MWC17 also had plenty to offer in terms of insights, announcements and industry excitement. Here are a few takeaways from several top keynotes last week:
John Stankey: Customers are The Ultimate Barometer of Success
In his keynote, AT&T CEO John Stankey said that the voice of today’s telco customer carries more weight than it has in the history of the telco industry. Customers want appreciation, personalisation and simplicity. They want to live their life on their terms and to get more for less. CSPs need to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable to live up to the expectations of today’s customers, said Stankey.
To succeed, telcos must build engaging digital platforms. What matters the most is how many hours your customers spend on your platform and how much of your full range of personalised services and content they enjoy, he added.
Stankey listed what he believes are the main engagement principles for future telco platforms:
Video will be the dominant playing field
Multi-sided business models will remain important
Content that is compelling matters
Integration matters for value and convenience
The product is software
Most importantly, the product is software that captures the customer’s imagination. Vertically integrated products do not have a future any more, said Stankey. Instead, it’s all about software that goes beyond ubiquitous connectivity, contributing to greater customer experience and a stronger emotional bond to content. Software is the product wrapper that reengineers entertainment and glues everything together.
Vivendi on the Future of Mobile Content
With strong positions in music, entertainment and gaming, Vivendi has a unique perspective on the various types of digital content today’s mobile consumer craves. In his keynote, CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine explained that telcos will be able to offer mobile content through partnerships with companies like Vivendi.
The company’s mobile short studio, called Studio+, produces 10 episodes of a series, with each episode at 10-minutes in length, a model that de Puyfontaine said is perfect for bite-size mobile content experiences. His company is now developing telco partnerships to roll out the content, which in turns helps CSPs dip their toes into an innovative digital service channel.
Vivendi tried to purchase its own telco subsidiaries in the early 2000s, he explained, but that failed strategy pointed the company toward a more flexible horizontal convergence model. Strategically, telco partnerships will provide Vivendi and its partners scale and agility, said de Puyfontaine.
Disruption at the Network Edge
Executives from three mobile leaders – Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and Nokia – discussed the importance of edge computing to serving the new mobile economy. The panel included Günther Ottendorfer, COO, Technology at Sprint, Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO at Deutsche Telekom and Michael Clever, SVP Mobile Broadband at Nokia.
Edge computing brings network functions physically closer to the consumer to, among other things, dramatically reduce network latency. A number of factors drive this trend, including the growing number of connected devices (from VR/AR to connected cars) that require continuous broadband connectivity, and the emergence of 5G. For example, Sprint is diversifying its core network by deploying thousands of small cells instead of microcell towers, according to Ottendorfer.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom has joined the Telecom Infra Project, a community initiative to re-imagine how telco networks support data-intensive services like video and virtual reality. According to Jacobfeuerborn, video will account for 80 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2021, which means telcos need to work now to bring better connectivity closer to the consumer.
Nokia’s Clever spoke to the benefits of new network technologies – including a shared data layer and a stateless machine architecture – to introduce endless capacity, scale and robustness to the network. Real-time analytics of network data could radically reduce the complexity and costs of the network and help telcos generate new revenue streams by better leveraging network assets and customer data, Clever said.
It’s an exciting time at Comptel! Our team is counting down the days to Mobile World Congress 2017, one of the biggest events of the year.
We have so much to announce and discuss, including the release of our new book, “Nexterday: Volume III,” and the results from our new research report, “The Power of Personal.”
As the third volume in our Nexterday series, the book covers the most important steps you as a telco need to take in your digital customer and service journeys. The research, which includes an official report, eBook, infographic and videos, surveyed real mobile customers to give you a better sense of their expectations for personalisation.
If you’re heading to Barcelona, you can get your hands on a hard copy of the new book and our research report by visiting our booth in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40, or you can email email@example.com to book an individual meeting.
But, those aren’t the only reasons to meet up with Comptel at #MWC17. Here’s a few more:
We’re Hosting a Fireside Briefing with Deutsche Telekom
Telcos hear all about the importance of network innovation, but what does it really look like in practice? Our fireside briefing is the perfect opportunity to find out.
On 28 February at 6 pm, visit the Comptel booth for an in-depth panel discussion about the Deutsche Telekom Pan-Net project, which will cover everything you need to know about DT’s ambitious plan to centralise digital service production for 13 national companies in one location. The panellists include:
Sven Hischke, Managing Director, Deutsche Telekom Pan-Net
Iulian Stoica Petrescu, Pan-Net Enterprise Architect, Telekom Romania
Juhani Hintikka, CEO, Comptel
Antti Koskela, EVP Service Orchestration, Comptel
Martin Beyer, Sales Director, Comptel
I’ll be moderating the discussion, and there will be a brief period for Q&A. The DT Pan-Net story is a really remarkable story of network innovation and disruption, so you won’t want to miss this chat.
We’re Talking Customer Engagement with Salesforce
Right after the Deutsche Telekom panel, I’ll cover off some of the top highlights of our “Power of Personal” research report, which explains how personalisation can be a difference-maker for service creation and revenue generation.
Then, Comptel EVP Intelligent Data Niilo Fredrikson and Salesforce Director of Product Management Communications Mustafa Oyumi will introduce our joint “Best Next Engagement” solution, which will provide a model and method to achieve powerful customer engagement. Don’t miss it.
We’re Hosting a Party at Esferic
Salesforce is also joining us to throw the coolest #MWC17 party in town, on Wednesday 1 March at 7 pm at Esferic. We’ll have live music, an open bar and finger food, plus plenty of networking opportunities. Tickets are free but limited to just 300 spots – be sure to follow Comptel on LinkedIn or stop by our booth to pick up your ticket!
We’re Smashing Telco Myths and Hosting #Nexterday Demos
Sick of hearing the same tired telco myths over and over? We are too, so we’re setting up a Telco MythSmasher in our booth, where you can stop by and destroy the most annoying misconceptions about service transformation and customer experience. You’ll have the chance to compete – the top three myth smashers will get a cool prize for their mobile device.
While you’re at the booth, be sure to ask for a demo of our new solutions, including:
Digital Customer Journey – Personalised digital services, at your fingertips. Check out:
My Digital Moments, which leverages the capabilities of FASTERMIND and MONETIZER
Salesforce customer engagement powered by Comptel FASTERMIND
FWD, the Digital Sales Channel. An easy and contextual way for operators to boost ARPU and increase digital service consumption by selling time-based data access.
Digital Service Journey – OSS modernisation through to full Digital Service Lifecycle Management with the FlowOne suite
IoTed™ – An IoT-driven app that helps users answer the question “Are you well?”
Comptel is planning to make this year’s show our biggest and best Mobile World Congress yet, and we want to join the fun. Find us in Hall 5 at Stand 5G40, or email firstname.lastname@example.org right now to book an individual meeting.
“Welcome to the Cognitive Era,” IBM proclaimed recently at Messukeskus Expo and Convention Centre in Helsinki, hailing an opportunity to outthink challenges, competitors and the limits of what is possible.
IBM says the cognitive era is one in which companies compete with each other by using algorithms, which are to a great deal responsible for how those companies develop, advance and succeed. Cognitive computing capabilities are emerging that resemble human learning and thinking processes: Discovery, Decision and Engagement. It’s taking data analysis as we know it to an entirely new level.
As we heard in many of the presentations at IBM BusinessConnect Helsinki 2016, digitalisation is a data-driven enabler for re-inventing and re-imagining the customer experience. That new experience can then be implemented through fresh business models and ecosystem-based collaboration. Partnerships are everything, because partners make innovation easier to achieve.
IBM BusinessConnect 2016 brought together a big crowd of about 1,500 enthusiastic professionals looking to get inspired and excited about the partnership opportunities offered by digitalisation and the Internet of Things (IoT). The program was fully packed with interesting presentations from IBM, KONE, Finnair, cyborg Neil Harbisson, and Comptel’s hybrid cloud, just to mention few. Here’s a summary.
The IBM/Comptel Telco Story
IBM and Comptel have a long-standing partnership that stretches over 10 years. Comptel is both a partner and a customer of IBM software and services. Together, we are actively helping telco operators around the world transform their OSS/BSS environments. Our strategic partnership is in the area of Digital Service Lifecycle Management (DSLM) with the IBM Architecture for Cloud-Based Networking, devising a new model for service orchestration and delivery of SDN/NFV.
Internally, Comptel deploys IBM cloud software assets in a hybrid environment for R&D, testing, training and more, both on-premises in Comptel’s own data centre and off-premises in the cloud. This hybrid workstyle offers us flexibility and agility, creating a better customer experience, whether we are using services on- or off-premises in single or multi-tenant mode.
IBM, like Comptel, believes in this hybrid cloud model. A presentation from IBM explained the global movement toward cloud, but stressed that cloud should not be viewed simply as a blanket destination: “Not every service needs to move to the cloud,” said the presenters. The key consideration for telcos is to figure out which services are better to run in a cloud environment, and then achieve seamless end-to-end orchestration across the hybrid network environment. Ultimately what matters most is being able to deliver a compelling customer and user experience irrespective of where the service resides.
Cognitive Computing in Healthcare
IBM and Tekes discussed their partnership, which resulted in the creation of the Watson Health Center of Excellence in Finland. Their aim is to improve the health of citizens, further local innovation and strengthen the Finnish healthcare business ecosystem. The partnership invites health companies to build an ecosystem on top of IBM’s Watson platform to create “the world’s most advanced data-led IoT hospitals.” Healthcare touches us all, and there’s a big need and sense of urgency around creating new innovative and disruptive health services. The ultimate vision is to establish a hospital-free model where the hospital is a base for service and care at home.
Moving People at an Urban Scale
KONE, a Finland based company serving more than 400,000 customers worldwide, moves more than 1 billion people every day with more than 1 million elevators and escalators. They anticipate the urbanisation trend to accelerate business, as more than 200,000 people are moving into cities every day, driving the need for sustainability and smart urban living. By embracing open innovation, KONE benefits from fresh ideas from outside their own company. Through IBM Watson, KONE has made a massive volume of escalator and elevator data available to third-party startup companies to innovate. This ecosystem and collaborative approach to innovation will be essential for KONE to take its business to the next level.
San Fran to Finland, Nonstop
The airline industry is also undergoing a digital transformation. Digitalisation is changing how airline employees work, how operations are run and how customers are served. Finnair is at the leading edge. Through an innovative strategic collaboration with Slush, Finnair has arranged exclusive direct flights to Europe’s leading startup event for attendees traveling from San Francisco. The San Francisco-to-Helsinki flight path will part of Finnair’s ongoing flight options starting in June 2017. It’s one example of how Finnair is working with leading startups to create better customer experiences and possibilities.
A Union Between Biology and Technology
Could you imagine hearing colours?
The most exciting and memorable speech at IBM BusinessConnect was given by cyborg Neil Harbisson. He was born with an extreme form of colour-blindness that meant he could only see grayscale. But, with the help of an internet-connected head implant that converts light into sound, Harbisson is now able to “hear” colours. Harbisson had his head antenna permanently installed in his skull in 2004, and his merging of biology and technology represents the ultimate in collaboration.
“Not many people go for a walk in the supermarket for fun, but I do,” he said. “I have an electronic eye that converts light into sound to enable me to ‘hear’ colour. So, the cleaning product aisle is very exciting. The rows of rainbow-coloured bottles sound like a symphony to me.”
He views the internet as an extension of his body and says he is able sense the inaudible reality around us, even hearing a sunset. Harbisson takes his role as a cyborg seriously, founding the Cyborg Project in 2010 to protect his rights under government classification. This is truly uncharted terrain, and we’ve only seen a glimpse of the possibilities of digital and connected technologies.
Comptel’s Nexterday North 2016 will feature many more inspiring stories of unique partnerships and collaboration. Register for Nexterday North to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers in innovation, academics, technology and business, including Mike Walsh, Dietmar Dahmen, Chris Messina, David Meerman Scott and more.
Greetings from SDN OpenFlow World Congress 2016, after a busy week when the entire industry came together to discuss, present and exchange views on SDN and NFV. Our industry is confronting perhaps its biggest-ever evolution – the transition to software-defined networks – and this event was a great place to discuss the implications. At the show, we got further insights into NFV/SDN proof of concepts and field trial experiences, but we also learned about several existing commercial launches in the areas of vCPE, vEPC, vIMS and vCDN. Without a doubt, many operators are moving past the trial stage and are deploying SDN and NFV in the real world.
Running from 10-14 October in the World Forum in The Hague, Netherlands, Layer 123’s SDN World Congress brought together more than 1,600 industry experts. The event’s main message was simple: more industry players than ever are looking into NFV and SDN, and they are part of a tremendous journey that will change the industry fundamentally and forever.
It Always Comes Back to The Customer
Customer needs are changing rapidly, with a strong preference toward digital-first experiences. You can thank the influence of over-the-top (OTT) cloud service providers for that. Unsurprisingly, a lot of talk at the event was about delivering a superior customer experience through a more agile and elastic network environment. SDN and NFV are not goals to be achieved, but rather the means to service transformation to better the personal customer experience.
But, SDN and NFV are about more than technology evolution; they represent a paradigm shift that will change how future operators and businesses will work. Technology is a big part but people, processes and organisation are even bigger. The business case-led way of thinking and working is growing stale, as it’s unrealistic to build a “business case per network function” as we’ve learned in dusty old presentations about network management.
The Multivendor-Proof Network Eliminates Vendor Lock-In
We heard a lot about the idea of vendor interoperability, or what is described as building a multivendor-proof network. This characteristic is a must-have, since avoiding vendor lock-in is one of the biggest benefits of NFV and SDN technologies. These benefits exceed the traditional single-vendor network approach in every sense.
Of course, it won’t be easy to create a multivendor-proof network. It will require technology standardisation, cooperation, open source principles and set of defined interfaces: APIs. But it’s clearly the way the industry is headed, and the only way we will achieve the full benefits of virtualisation technology.
Standardisation Enables Multi-Party Cooperation
There was plenty of talk about the key role standardisation will play. Organisations like MEF Forum, Open Source MANO (OSM), the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), OPEN-Orchestrator (OPEN-O) and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) are leading the way. Comptel is involved in several of these groups, each of which focuses on its individual areas of expertise while encouraging collaboration, information sharing, discussion and debate. Ultimately, standardisation is advancing the multi-vendor and open-for-all approach to network design in acknowledgement of the desire for interoperability.
The nature of cooperative work within our industry is changing given this emphasis on multivendor networks. NFV and SDN are bringing companies together, leading to the creation of industry blueprints, proof of concept trials, and field experiments. Comptel is already involved in several, in fact.
The Network Automation Cycle
Many industry players at the event underlined the importance of automation and orchestration, driven by real-time analytics that rely on data and closed-loop processes to improve customer experience. They also advocated end-to-end seamless orchestration across new virtual and established services.
“Operations are the elephant in the room,” as one analyst aptly described significant operational concerns. Centralised and coordinated control and orchestration are the key assets that allow digital service lifecycle management in a hybrid network environment. The “orchestrator of the orchestrators” will be the enabler by providing a holistic, end-to-end view the dynamic digital services in multidomain networks.
There’s No Doubt: NFV/SDN Will Happen
NFV is going to happen; there’s no lack of confidence in the actual value of the technology. Of course it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s still early days for NFV, which remains an immature technology before standards become clear and stabilised.
The switch to virtualisation is both a technology and business challenge but even more it’s about culture, people, processes and trust. The true value of virtualisation comes back to the customer: you and me. At the end of the day, successful transformation will be about education, experimentation and strong relationships.
There’s an entire world of fresh ideas and exciting opportunities for telcos to indulge, many of which are discussed in various industry conferences around the world. That’s why Comptel is happy to bring and present these ideas directly to you if you were not able to hop on a plane and visit each event.
The Nexterday Tour 2016 is our global effort to share the latest, most dominant and most appealing market trends directly with our customers and partners. At the same time, we discuss key thought leadership themes, including how Comptel’s software addresses market requirements in Nexterday.
We want to tap into the latest industry trends and insights from major global industry events, including our own Nexterday North event, which asks telcos to stop thinking about digital transformation and start executing. We package everything together with content and videos from operators, industry speakers and thought leaders, and go on tour to deliver them to telcos around the world.
What is the Nexterday Tour?
The program includes trends and insights gathered from a number of big events, stretching from the Comptel anti-seminar Nexterday North in Helsinki last November, and extending through Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, TM Forum Live! in Nice, the Big Communications Event in Austin, and a scattering of NFV/SDN events throughout Europe and the U.S. Our next stop will be in October for Dreamforce in San Francisco and the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress in The Hague.
It’s the third consecutive year we’ve run a global program. You might have known our previous tours by other names – “Barcelona in a Box” in 2014 and “Beyond the Event Horizon” last year. We visited more than 15 cities last year, meeting with 400 individual customers from 45 global operators.
So far, this year’s tour has taken us to South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region, adding up to over 10 countries, over 15 cities, dozens of operator brands and hundreds of individual customers. And the tour finishes with our second annual Nexterday North from 28-29 November, 2016 in Helsinki.
Top Themes for 2016
Our focus in 2016 is on digital transformation and disruption within the telco industry.
We wanted to cover how new players in telco – including startups, but also non-telco players like Airbnb, Uber and Spotify – are shaking up the industry with innovative digital offerings that require operators to change their approach.
We’re also covering broader global trends. In his keynote speech at Nexterday North 2015, Kjell Nordstrom talked about urbanisation, describing how within the next 20 to 30 years, 80 percent of the world’s population and 90 percent of its economic value will be centralised in 600 megacities. On the tour, we’ve discussed what that means for telcos in the years ahead.
We’ve discussed new telco business models, new network technologies and new service opportunities. We know that networks are embracing software in the era of NFV, data centres and cloud. We know that the Internet of Things (IoT) is a major opportunity, but that 99 percent of devices aren’t connected to the internet yet. At the same time, we know that up to four billion people on Earth also lack internet access. So what are operators and the whole industry doing to solve that challenge, alongside the others?
We’re also covering a number of challenges and opportunities in our industry, such as the need to find fresh new data monetisation strategies to take advantage of customers’ hunger for digital services. We also discuss the increased need for hyper personalisation in marketing, sales and service, and the need for telcos to re-engineer their service orchestration models to suit a more self-serve, conversational and automated service delivery lifecycle.
It’s been exciting to get out of the office, speak directly with customers and hear their ideas and thoughts on all of these concepts. Generally speaking, we’re seeing operators starting to broaden their mode of thinking. Ideas that would have once been considered too radical for telco are now being carefully considered, whether it’s ways to change how we work, new service opportunities to tap into, or new global trends that affect our business.
It’s important for telcos to continue the conversation and step away from the industry’s collective blindspot. With the Nexterday Tour 2016, Comptel is proud to play a part in helping operators have these important discussions.
Join us on the Nexterday Tour 2016 by registering for Nexterday North 2016, 28-29 November, in Helsinki. You can check out our fantastic speaker lineup here, which to date includes digital transformation visionary Mike Walsh, marketing guru David Meerman Scott, futurologist Dietmar Dahmen, operator speakers and many more.
Ramsay explained that, per Analysys Mason estimates, about 50 billion in U.S. dollars was spent on worldwide capital expenditures related to fibre-to-the-x (FTTX) capabilities. That was about 2 percent higher than 2014, said Ramsay, who added that more than half the world’s consumers will have access to fibre internet by 2020.
That would be an ideal outcome for many consumers, who are starved for faster internet to support complex home networks. The average household will run multiple fixed and mobile devices from a single home Wi-Fi network, and with bandwidth-greedy services like 4K video ready to enter more homes, demand will only increase in the years ahead. Ramsay explained that most consumers now know that fibre is the latest and greatest technology for fixed broadband services, which makes fibre capability an attractive marketing tool for operators.
Of course, to offer fibre, operators need to solve a number of infrastructure, network and service challenges. In his part of the presentation, GE’s James Wheatley explained how proper network design – focused on automation, optimisation and a single view to disparate networks – can help operators efficiently meet overwhelming demand for higher bandwidth services. He also offered best practices for aligning physical inventory to meet customer expectations around service availability and quality. Watch the first webinar here to learn more.
This type of intelligent network transformation, which limits disruption to the network while significantly increasing operator capabilities and service opportunities, provides a crucial blueprint to operators exploring fibre deployments. The third and final webinar in our series provided another compelling example, this time from POST Luxembourg, which navigated the delicate balance of a corporate split-off by adopting a more dynamic, efficient and automated fulfilment architecture to serve existing and future demands from customers. Watch “Agile Delivery Leading to Successful OSS Transformation” to learn more about that story.
As we’re seeing from worldwide activity, fibre will undoubtedly continue to be one of the top services those customers demand in the years ahead. Not only will fibre deployments help operators keep up with consumer expectations, but as Comptel VP North America Peter Middleton explained recently, fibre capabilities could also be the difference-maker that helps smaller operators compete with larger players in key markets like United States.
The only thing standing in the way? Network transformation. Chorus and POST Luxembourg proved that the network does not have to be an obstacle to service opportunity, as long as you know how to devise an intelligent and efficient strategy for evolution.
Watch the complete “Winning with Fibre” webinar series to catch up on the issues around fibre connectivity and to receive a blueprint for building the perfect business model for fibre connectivity and services.
By Stephen Lacey, Principal NFV Architect, CTO Office & Guest Author
Comptel was in attendance for the second annual NFV World Congress, held last month in Silicon Valley. Whereas the discussions at last year’s inaugural event were more academic in nature, this year’s conference showcased a number of compelling cases that demonstrate how network functions virtualisation (NFV) is taking a step toward becoming reality.
The week kicked off with a series of tutorials from the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the European Telecommunication Standard Institute’s (ETSI) Industry Specification Group (ISG) for NFV, and the Intel Network Builders (INB) – Comptel is a proud member of the latter two groups. Throughout the week, we also observed a number of presentations from operators driving home the reasons why they are exploring NFV implementations. Two reasons stood out:
The potential reductions in CAPEX/OPEX due to utilising ubiquitous general purpose hardware
The ability to achieve service flexibility and mix and match services.
NFV in Action
Japanese operator NTT offered a great example of the benefits of service flexibility. During a tsunami in 2014, the need for voice traffic capacity near the storm’s epicentre increased dramatically. There was plenty of capacity in the other parts of their network, so if NFV had been available at that time, NTT would have been able to offload data capacity to other parts of the network to increase voice capacity in areas that would have needed it most.
NTT was the only operator at NFV World Congress running two different virtualised evolved package core (vEPC) vendors on live deployments: NEC and Fujitsu.
AT&T, Verizon and the bulk of the operators speaking at the event said that virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) for enterprise-based services is the most compelling of the NFV use cases for them. When pressed, AT&T described how their customers had surprised them in the way they utilise services.
By using the AT&T ECOMP platform and EVPN as the bridging mechanisms for Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching, plus allowing their customers to chain virtual network functions together, customers enjoyed time-of-day-based services variation. For example, during the workday all branch offices had equal bandwidth to access the main datacentres, whereas after business hours those bandwidth allocations were lowered and higher bandwidth was assigned for datacentres to sync together.
Other operators said they are entrenched in NFV trials, but didn’t offer any behind-the-scenes information as to how those programs are progressing.
The Emergence of Open Source
Another important theme was the increasing mainstream relevance of open source projects, which major network equipment providers (NEPs) and communication services providers (CSPs) are relying on to prevent vendor lock-in within the network.
It seems 2016 is the year of orchestration wars, with two different open source projects exploring this aspect of network management and organization (MANO): Open Source MANO (OSM) and OPEN-Orchestrator (OPEN-O). It’s difficult to directly compare the two initiatives, since OSM is based on available software, whereas OPEN-O is only in its foundational stages.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to keep an eye on each initiative as they progress. Comptel recently participated in a partner showcase at TM Forum Live! alongside Telefonica, Indra and Etiya which proposed a hybrid network environment based on OSM.
NFV World Congress offered a compelling venue to explore how leading operators and vendors are actively experimenting with NFV implementation. As a few pioneering telcos embrace virtualisation within the network, these first forays will carve a clear path forward for the rest of the industry. Some will take the lead; others will simply follow.
Last month, a sold-out crowd of 500 IoT enthusiasts packed into Helsinki’s Kattilahalli conference hall for the Internet of Things 2016 Conference, also known as #IoTNordic. With a DJ playing live music throughout the two-day show, a saxophonist entertaining the crowd in the late afternoon happy hour and outdoor food vans offering tasty meals, the event offered a hip, modern and invigorating atmosphere for lively discussions on the potential and partnerships that define the IoT.
Veli-Pekka Luoma, Comptel
Although environmentalism was a major theme (event organisers used recycled wooden pallets as booth tables, for example), the event and the attendees were focused on different kind of environment: the holistic IoT ecosystem. There was one common denominator: Nearly everyone in attendance, across industries, was looking for technology partners to help them build or expand their own ecosystem of connected device solutions.
Comptel sponsored #IoTNordic and presented a speaking session with our Director of Advanced Analytics for IoT, Veli-Pekka Luoma, about the vital role data plays in the Smart Living movement. Comptel’s Intelligent Fast Data solutions offer businesses the power to sense, understand and act instantly on data “across the board.” Connected devices are another data source that produces aggregated information, alongside customer interactions, the network, social media, location and more. Businesses stand to benefit tremendously by pulling insights from all those different sources and applying insights to real-time actions. Those actions lead to better IoT-enabled experiences.
Industry can remotely monitor heavy machinery to run a “smart factory.” Health care providers can track personal data to offer intelligent preventative care, fleet managers can optimise routes for cargo vehicles, utility providers can provide efficient energy solutions with smart meters, and much more.
It all starts with smarter data. Through experimentation, partnership and solution co-creation, businesses – including operators – can apply data analytics to elevate the IoT beyond simple machine-to-machine communications toward humanistic benefits. #IoTNordic offered several compelling examples of businesses that are already succeeding in the IoT.
Elisa’s IoT Innovation Challenge
Elisa VP Markku Hollström
The Finnish operator Elisa has enjoyed many successes along its digital transformation. Its IoT service offering is one example. The company offers IoT connectivity, monitoring and analytics to a range of verticals, including a 3D real-time “Smart Factory” dashboard for industry, augmented reality solutions, and analytics-enriched monitoring and email notifications for the marine manufacturer Wärtsilä.
Elisa VP Markku Hollström explained that to succeed in the IoT, you need to experiment and develop a broad network of partners. That enables speed – the company profiled IoT projects that went from ideation to product in just six weeks. It’s also why the company is inviting businesses to participate in the Elisa Innovation Challenge, which will reward up to €85,000 in prizes to entrants who create innovative corporate and Smart Home IoT solutions.
Technology, Customer Experience the Focus for Tesla
Tesla presentation at IoT Nordic
The electric car manufacturer Tesla says it is not in the business of selling luxury vehicles. At the show, the company’s speaker said the company’s focus is actually in transitioning the world toward safer, sustainable transportation. The IoT plays a big role in that: Tesla says its vehicles are the most connected cars on Earth, and their mission is to incorporate technology to create a software-based, analytics-informed driving experience. Even their car buying experience is innovative; it’s entirely online, making it a modern, customer-focused approach to purchasing.
Are Device Implants the Future of Health?
Hannes Sjöblad, BioNyfiken
Hannes Sjöblad of BioNyfiken presented a fascinating look at the role of NFC implants in human health, which his company says is humanity’s “personal key to the IoT”. This technology already exists – in fact, we saw a live demo at the end of his presentation of a human implant placed into a person’s hand. While also a bit scary, the demo did show the amazing potential of implanted devices to enable everyday individuals to “speak” to connected devices.
There are simple but very relevant use cases, like replacing keys, ID cards, tickets and boarding passes with implanted chips, and use cases that are more humanistic. Personalised chips could ensure a gun can’t be operated by an unauthorised user, for example, or even play a role in curing blindness, deafness and paralysis.
Securing the IoT
Of course, any conversation about the many uses cases for the IoT eventually falls back on security concerns. In his keynote speech, Mikko Hyppönen, Chief Research Officer of F-Secure explained that the IoT will only expand the number of threat vectors (how do you secure your Wi-Fi if it’s being shared by your refrigerator?), creating more opportunity for highly sophisticated cyber criminals and making it more difficult for consumers to maintain privacy.
The number and variety of IoT devices will make single-device protection impractical, said Hyppönen. F-Secure, for example, has no interest in developing anti-virus protection for your connected toaster. However, the company does develop full-home Wi-Fi security solutions to ensure every device on the network is secure. Furthermore, F-Secure compensates independent hackers who find holes in their security system, when many of those hackers may have otherwise sold that information to cyber criminals. It’s a good solution for F-Secure: Paying for hackers to find holes in your system is a clever and efficient way to find vulnerable spots in your environment.
As Hyppönen said, ”Web content is not free. It is paid for with your data. It’s paid for with your privacy. And it’s too late to change that. We have raised a whole new generation who are used to having content for ‘free’ on the web. And yet, we don’t understand what this means.”
That’s an important takeaway to keep in mind as businesses and operators tiptoe – or dive head-first – into the futuristic world of the IoT.
Technology partnerships are crucial to innovation in telecommunications. At next week’s TM Forum Live! 2016, Comptel will demonstrate the outcome of several recent industry collaborations, all of which are designed to introduce new approaches to digital service delivery, customer engagement, data monetisation and networking.
Comptel is taking part in three distinct partner-driven initiatives, including two TM Forum Catalysts, individually led by Telefonica and Orange; and an IBM-led digital service architecture blueprint. The ultimate objective of each initiative is to open operators’ eyes to new possibilities for infrastructure management, service delivery and offer creation through NFV service orchestration and intelligent fast data management.
Our contributions vary by project. In two of the cases, we’re putting the digital service lifecycle management (DSLM) model that we introduced in Nexterday: Volume II, with our FLOWONE service orchestration technology, managing forward-looking approaches to service delivery. In the third project, we’re supplying expertise and technology in the creation of a new, progressive data monetisation strategy.
Forward-thinking approaches are crucial at a time when customers desire fast, intelligent, personalised offers. Operators are also keen to take advantage of dynamic, intelligent, highly automated and virtualised network environments to speed up innovation, time-to-market and to improve security.
Here’s what you can expect from each partnership, with guidance on how you can learn more and engage with Comptel and our partners at TM Forum Live! 2016.
IBM’s Target Architecture for Cloud-Based Networking
Comptel, IBM and Juniper Networks have developed a new approach to digital service delivery for B2B and B2C customers, incorporating an orchestration and fulfillment architecture that allows operators to better manage end-to-end service lifecycles in complex hybrid networks of virtualised and non-virtualised services.
The architecture is based on our DSLM proposition, which you can read more about in a recent blog from our CTO Simon Osborne. The end-game is a network that’s able to automatically and dynamically deploy network capabilities and agile services in a way that gives customers automated, self-service digital service purchasing and delivery.
To learn more, visit the IBM booth at TM Forum Live!
Open Source NFV Service Orchestration and Lifecycle Management Catalyst with Telefonica
Comptel is also participating in two TM Forum Catalysts, which are proof-of-concept initiatives that encourage technology partnerships in the name of industry innovation.
DSLM also plays a crucial role in this Catalyst, as does our FLOWONE V service orchestration solution. The aim is to test the OSM software stack in a practical context and analyse how it needs to evolve to be production-ready.
To learn more about this Catalyst, join Telefonica and Comptel for our theatre session on Tuesday, May 11, 14:30-14:50 at the Catalyst Theatre.
Orange’s Catalyst on a Mobile Sponsored Data Business Model
Finally, Comptel will take part in an Orange-championed Catalyst, “New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data,” which also includes partners Salesforce and CloudSense, plus Sigma Systems and DataMi. We’ve contributed our Intelligent Fast Data technology and capabilities to illustrate how enterprises can sponsor mobile customer data usage as a way to incentivise the use of enterprise digital services, increase data engagement, collect usage data and apply policy control.
To learn more about this Catalyst, attend our session titled “New Business Models with Mobile Sponsored Data” at the Catalyst Theatre on Wednesday, May 12, 13:40-14:00.
Comptel is proud to partner with each of these technology leaders in collaborative efforts to introduce new solutions to communications. Whether it’s by improving digital service delivery through new infrastructure models, further developing OSM, or enhancing customer engagement through the creation of new business models, we’re excited to pioneer digital transformation. We can’t wait to share our progress with attendees at TM Forum Live! 2016.
Visit TM Forum’s Catalyst Zone to see these Catalyst demonstrates in action. To arrange a meeting with Comptel at TM Forum Live! 2016, email email@example.com