Utilizing as-a-Service model for private 5G ensures that end-user needs are met while still allowing for future innovation.
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One-Stop Shop Solution
NTT, a technology services subsidiary affiliated with Communications Service Provider (CSP) NTT Docomo, has rolled-out its LTE/5G private network platform for enterprises in early August 2021. The platform aims to run cloud-native architecture and provide customized portals with self-service management capabilities for Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Other features of the comprehensive solution include:
- On the end-device front, the private 5G platform includes eSIM and SIM capabilities augmented with roaming contracts in over 190 countries.
- Global 3GPP-supported spectrum assets for exclusive communications.
- 24/7 operations centers with remote monitoring and self-service portals.
- Offers enhanced security in accessing private applications using Zero-Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) framework.
- The solution is pre-integrated with network and software partners also includes a suite of digital app development and system integration capabilities, allowing enterprises to secure, scale and segment their network flexibly.
Application Delivery and Assured Quality for Private 5G Network Deployments
Providing private network solutions to different verticals is a much more complex endeavor relative to providing basic mobile network services to end-users. Private networks can be customized to support a wide range of Quality of Service (QoS) standards such as network control, reliability, deterministic low latency data transfers, security isolation, and network coverage for a specific end-user. The ability to fine-tune private networks at a granular level is a welcome (and in some instances, non-negotiable) value proposition for many industries that have specialized connectivity needs. A notable challenge in establishing highly customized private networks, however, is that it inhibits an enterprise’s flexibility and agility in evolving their networks to support newer use cases in the future. Deploying a completely isolated private network on enterprise sites would not only confine the enterprise to a limited number of use cases but would also translate to higher costs (in both CAPEX and OPEX) when enterprises decide to expand deployed applications and service capabilities of their private network. Furthermore, it becomes more and more apparent, that the true value proposition for enterprise 5G lies in the applications it enables rather than the technology itself, as discussed in previous insights.
That being said, application delivery is a critical piece of private 5G network deployments. The successful delivery of mission-critical, QoS-specific applications should be the standard that private 5G networks should ultimately aspire towards. The platform leverages NTT’s patent-pending MicroSlicing technology, enabling mission-critical applications to leverage the benefits that 5G can bring in their delivery. MicroSlicing, as the name suggests, is similar to network slicing as it enables the enterprise to leverage on common network infrastructure to deliver and maintain key service levels of different applications. These “MicroSlices” will be able to be customized based on latency and maximum acceptable levels of packet error and jitter rates. The assured isolation and QoS levels of MicroSlicing will not only allow the successful wireless delivery of mission-critical applications but will also save the enterprise in rolling-out costly and inflexible wired connections (fiber). Additionally, the platform also enables application delivery beyond the premises. Use cases that require constant real-time surveillance over wide area coverage (e.g., asset tracking, supply chain monitoring) can be enabled as the platform offers public/private 5G roaming. The public/private roaming along with the eSIM/SIM capabilities will increase the solution’s appeal to companies in the logistics, manufacturing, and mining sectors.
The "Pièce de Résistance" of NTT's Private 5G Solution
The tiered subscription model of the solution (based on specific network design and needs) is a testament to where the industry is progressing in terms of private network monetization strategies. Generally, having subscription-based services can allow private network providers to broaden their revenues over time by (a) having on-going revenue streams through periodic recurring fees based on consumption as opposed to large one-time upfront payments and (b) establishing on-going touchpoints with end-users to increase customer engagement for additional revenues throughout the subscription lifecycle.
The salient feature of the platform, however, is the full visibility/administration provided by MicroSlicing and the self-service portal in which CIOs and IT administrators can use to control critical elements of application delivery such as policy, security management, and configuration management. Advanced application delivery is the lynchpin that underlies the enablement of 5G mission-critical use cases. In tandem with the QoS assurance of MicroSlicing, the full visibility of the consolidated data in the self-service platform can unlock greater efficiencies in the private network. These include efficiencies generated from using advanced data analytics to improve decision-making or implementing end-to-end, holistic automation frameworks based on real-time operation data. Another nice touch is that the solution comes pre-integrated with end-services from a variety of network and software partners—lowering the complexity and reducing the ramp-up and deployment of services in a private network deployment. Ultimately, having an integrated network platform that streamlines app service creation, selection, provisioning, and deployment will be a giant step towards highly flexible, Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) environments that cloud-native 5G promises to deliver.
The successful “marriage” of telecom-based connectivity and cloud-based principles forms the bedrock of a highly dynamic, end-to-end private 5G network solution. While Communication Service Providers (CSPs) would naturally have the expertise and capabilities on the networking side, they must also be prepared to incorporate cloud-native principles within their enterprise solution offerings through partnerships with cloud providers and hyperscalers. CSP private network solutions that are fortified with tools (such as NTT’s suite of digital app development and accompanying ecosystem of partners) can effectively assist application developers in service creation and process automation.