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Building enterprise use cases with 5G open RAN

Find out how a TM Forum catalyst is exploring a collaborative approach to rolling out 5G Open RAN and developing multiple enterprise use cases.

12 Oct 2021
Building enterprise use cases with 5G open RAN

Building enterprise use cases with 5G open RAN

The third phase of this catalyst aims to show how communications service providers (CSPs) can benefit from cross-industry collaboration to innovate their business models and create new services for enterprises. The participants are exploring a new collaborative approach where multiple vendors, CSPs, and other third parties could work together to roll out a 5G open radio access network (RAN) and develop multiple enterprise use cases.

The catalyst is being led by Malaysia-based Axiata Group and is supported by Axiata Digital Labs, CSG, Dialog Axiata, GCP, Getreve, Infosys, Robi Axiata, Smart Axiata and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The champions are the CSPs Axiata Enterprise, Dialog, Robi and Smart, which are each providing support for developing the solution architecture.

  • Examples of proposed enterprise use cases include a video analytics or a content distribution platform bundled with 5G network slicing; and white-label SaaS services such as loyalty management.

Namal Jayathilake, Vice President, Engineering, Emerging Technology at Axiata Digital Labs, said the aim of the catalyst is to address a major problem currently being faced by CSPs: their traditional revenues and margins are being eroded by various players who are consuming and monetizing core telco services.

“They need to find an innovative way to tackle this problem,” said Jayathilake.

The first two phases of the catalyst addressed how a CSP could leverage existing business support system (BSS) assets to offer digital services and share those software components via a software marketplace. The next step tackles how connectivity could be leveraged to capture the enterprise 5G opportunity and create more software components in the marketplace that are aligned with TM Forum’s Open Digital Framework (ODF) in order to speed time to market.

“In phase 3, we are trying to explore how this concept can be extended to new services like 5G and open RAN,” said Jayathilake, who noted that flexibility at the RAN level is also required.

CSPs have a unique position in the market with their infrastructure assets and a foundation as a secure and trusted partner. The solution proposed here will enable them to use their strong trusted customer relationship and connectivity base as a competitive advantage.

Building blocks

In phase 1, the catalyst demonstrated an insurance use case where a CSP could leverage existing business support system (BSS) assets to offer a digital insurance service with a real insurance service provider. It also showed how success stories could be shared between CSPs via a marketplace to improve collaboration between them and deliver services in a shorter period using catalogue management and application orchestration platform.

In phase 2, the focus was on the B2B opportunity for CSPs, with a 5G-related use case demonstrating how network slicing and edge computing could be used to facilitate smart surveillance. The goal of phase 2 was to provide end-to-end marketplace capabilities based on TM Forum standards.

Udaka Kappagoda, Principal Architect, Emerging Technology at Axiata Digital Labs, said: “We are building an ecosystem for CSPs to transform from legacy to digital service providers and we are helping them to evolve, not just change. We are ensuring the investment security of current BSS elements because we are not asking them to reinvest to reinvent, but to reuse to reinvent.”

Using open RAN to speed enterprise 5G

In phase 3, the aim is to demonstrate how open RAN could be used to facilitate the deployment of a private 5G network for an enterprise customer at short notice. The participants also intend to show how these private networks could be used to orchestrate an end-to-end 5G use case for enterprise customers.

The third phase builds on the marketplace framework for application sharing to enable new 5G deployment and development models, and demonstrates a 5G open RAN use case. The project makes use of the concepts and models developed by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) for open RAN implementations and integrations, and shows how TM Forum’s Open API and Open Digital Architecture (ODA) architectural principles will be used for end-to-end service orchestration.

Furthermore, the participants want to explore how CSPs could benefit from cross-industry collaboration to innovate their business models, providing an ecosystem where clients across different industries are able to define, develop and integrate services for 5G offerings.

Using an ODA-compliant software marketplace, the catalyst shows that vendors, CSPs, cloud providers, application developers and others can work together to quickly roll out a 5G Open RAN network and develop new digital enterprise solutions for the network.

The project will explore dynamic orchestration of end-to-end (E2E) network slicing that cuts across RAN, transport and core and bundled services of CaaS, cloud, vertical platform solutions, software assets and supports continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) automation

Phase 3 will build on the foundations established in phase 1 and phase 2 by expanding functionality in the following areas:

  • End-user: Subscription management, settlement record, machine learning, and support.
  • Marketplace framework: Marketplace federation, billing/cost management, entitlements, and cloud provisioning.
  • CSP/partner/vendor: Management functions, framework, analytics, and settlement (n-tier costing).
  • E2E 5G network slicing: covering RAN, transport and core to bring in automation and service delivery of new 5G use cases that require eMBB, URLLC or mIOT slices.
  • Marketplace to offer bundled services to create new revenue streams with varied combinations of CaaS, cloud (SaaS/PaaS/Iaas), vertical solutions, software assets, insights, and other services.

Ihlas Jiffry, Senior Business Consultant at CSG, concluded that the third phase of this digital marketplace plays a pivotal role in unlocking the highest level of value creation and innovation in supporting collaboration and co-creation across the complete B2B2X eco-system.

“This catalyst showcases how digital services providers and digital partners can leverage the marketplace’s digital channels, monetisation and partner management capabilities to accelerate their go-to-market offers, create new business models, new revenue streams and innovate new 5G enterprise use cases to support across multi-industry verticals,” Jiffry said.