5G Turns Wireless Service Providers into Indispensable Players in the IoT

By Special Guest
Chris Menier, VP, Transformation Strategist, Vitria
January 15, 2019

2019 is going to be a very important year for the Internet of Things (IoT) environment. Not only are we seeing an explosion of new use cases emerge across almost every sector of the economy, but we are also seeing ideas that were put into the market only a few years ago mature into critical business requirements for their implementers. IoT is no longer just in the lab; it is in the market in very important ways.

The planned deployments of 5G services by network service providers around the world, however, are going to serve as an important accelerator that will exponentially increase the capacity and reach of IoT applications, but also promise to significantly reduce the cost of deployments. In short, the emergence of 5G this year will launch the “true” mainstreaming of IoT in the global digital economy.

IoT Enabling NSPs to Dodge the Dumb Pipe Dilemma
In so doing, the network service providers (NSPs) that provide 5G services will be in an entirely new position to add value and generate important new streams of revenue by blurring the lines of distinction between public and private data networking environments at both the operational technology and information technology levels.

This could not come at a better time. For a number of years now there has been a nagging concern among many NSPs about becoming a dumb pipe provider. The convergence of 5G with IoT goes a long way toward laying these concerns to rest.


Because NSPs that are involved with 5G can no longer be pigeon-holed as providers of connectivity that only deliver low level services over the top. They now have an opportunity to build important new business-to-business relationships that leverage the capacity and intelligence enabled by 5G to offer a broad range of sophisticated managed services.

For example, just about every wireless provider that I've interacted with over the last several months has developed very specific and concentrated 5G initiatives that target the industrial IoT opportunity. NSPs can help change the way entire industries interact with their customers.

5G Ability to Harness Network Slicing is a Key Benefit of SDN and NFV
NSPs have an opportunity to contribute both vast amounts of easy-to-deploy bandwidth along with intelligence to allocate the bandwidth in an unprecedentedly flexible manner. With 5G, one of the technological advances that will have a big impact revolves around network slicing.

An application of virtual network architecture, network slicing uses the same principles behind software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). This is a functional category that we have not been able to exploit in previous generations of wireless infrastructures. By being able to slice the network, you can apply different qualities of service -- even different capacities -- across the network in an intelligent and intuitive manner. This means that NSPs will be able to help enterprises deliver the right networking capacity to the right place at the right time in a highly dynamic manner. It will introduce efficiencies and functionality that were not economically -- or technically -- viable in the past.

This has huge ramifications for industrial IoT applications. It will eliminate the need for expensive wired infrastructure and it will streamline the number of machines and devices that must be in place to support a wide variety of workloads and applications.

This alone is going to stimulate a whole new stream of innovation for industrial IoT, and accelerate implementation and adoption.

Another immense area of opportunity for NSPs that get into the IoT game revolves around harnessing their extensive experience with network security. With IoT, almost every organization becomes a networking organization. As enterprises add more devices to their networks to connect more applications and people, the imperative to effectively manage risk will grow exponentially.

NSPs can help organizations with this. They understand as well as anybody the implications of the network effect on risk exposure.

A related area of opportunity revolves around complexity management and operational risk. As NSPs begin their 5G implementations new technologies and capabilities like Massive MIMO, beamforming, full-duplex traffic, and small cells will come to the forefront as offerings that enable smarter and more efficient performance across the network.

Key’s Supporting IoT Deployments by NSPs and Enterprises
As NSPs and enterprises manage the complex issues that surround real-time digital operations from a customer experience standpoint, it will be important to develop deep expertise in leveraging the exploding volume of disparate data assets that enable effective automation by bringing to bear the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Central to this will be the ability to make sense of a myriad of data sources so that NSPs can have access to accurate and real-time insights that provide clear visibility into the operational realities of network and business activity.

This requires scale. NSPs and enterprises will need to achieve a sophisticated perspective in a high-volume and highly dynamic environment. This game is not just about mastering the huge deluge of data, but also about reconciling the great variety of information that is generated from sources that may not have existed in the past.

New technologies -- like 5G and NFV -- are going to generate a need to track and monitor an unprecedented number of variables that affects operational performance and business outcomes.

It will therefore be extremely important for NSPs and enterprises to simplify this process by associating the array of logs, stats, counters, scores and telemetry into the basic, fundamental layers of activity that are critical to delivering a service.

Once the data is brought together, we have to have the appropriate talent and processes in place to ensure that the right people have the right access and the right context to do their jobs better. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a critical role in the ability of executives to quickly understand and act on the insights presented by the data that is generated every day, every minute, every second.

About the author: Chris Menier has spent the last 20+ years focused on the Global 1000 business leaders. His experience with and understanding of the operations and assurance space has helped him envision new products, enter new markets, and build strong teams. Chris joined Vitria to enable companies to realize the value of Operational Intelligence leveraging big data.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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