Advancing 5G Innovation Through Our Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab

Between the 2019 Mobile World Congress and this year’s largely virtual event, 5G network deployments have exploded – from just three in South Korea to 165 in over 65 countries. Yet despite the speed of 5G roll out, the real returns on these massive investments lie in the future for most communication service providers (CSPs).

5G’s game-changing capacity and latency make for great headlines, but in themselves won’t generate game-changing income streams. Instead, they give CSPs a shot at moving beyond connectivity with innovative, high value enterprise services delivered largely at the edge using a cloud framework. With IDC predicting the number of new operational processes deployed on edge infrastructure will grow from under 20% today to over 90% in 2024¹, there’s extraordinary potential.

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and computer vision are prime candidates for this service innovation. Linking real-world events to real-time data analytics can bring enterprises completely new insights and capabilities. By replacing 4G’s monolithic infrastructure with cloud native open architecture, 5G makes it possible to move these services to where they are consumed. Add to that 5G’s ultra-low latency, and there are huge opportunities to build highly attractive new real-time enterprise services.

In this new world, traditionally static functional hierarchy-based network architectures must become more dynamic and agile, based on service consumption location and service characteristics. This transformation requires cloud native operations with hybrid and multi-cloud environments bringing digital service capabilities to the edge, enabling monetization of an innovative use case ecosystem.

This will help turn enterprises and the Internet of Things into the new growth engine for CSP revenue. Network ‘IT-ization’, with scaled automation leveraging AI/ML, also helps with the bottom line by lowering OPEX costs. This includes leveraging the hardware technology curve, simplified SKUs for spares and inventory and elimination of vendor lock-in.

However, these opportunities come with challenges, including access to an ecosystem of use cases, service validation and integration and access to enterprise markets.

Unlocking opportunity at the enterprise edge

We’ve seen that CSPs are under pressure to make a fundamental shift away from the old telecom infrastructure of proprietary radio access network (RAN) hardware and legacy systems. 5G creates the opportunity to replace these closed environments with flexible, highly scalable software-defined infrastructure built on open, modern technologies like virtualization and edge computing.

However, it’s one thing to define the challenge and quite another to solve it. A crucial step in this journey is for the telecom sector to align around a cloud native, standards-based open RAN ecosystem capable of interfacing seamlessly with today’s virtualized IT. That’s tough for individual businesses to achieve in isolation.

Complexity, a lack of common standards and the difficulty of developing market ready end-to-end solutions are insurmountable for most individual players. Even for those willing to take on the task, there’s an urgent need to minimize risk and avoid creating yet more proprietary solutions.

In short, what’s needed is a catalyst for industrywide cooperation and collaboration in pursuit of open solutions.

Introducing OTEL – the Open Telecom Ecosystem Lab

This is the role Dell Technologies is embracing with the Open Telecom Ecosystem initiative. Launched at our June 9, 2021 Telecom Transformation event, the aim is to bring all stakeholders in telecom’s future together to jointly create the open, cloud native, standards-based ecosystem needed to deliver 5G’s full potential.

To this end, OTEL is completely hardware and software neutral. Dell Technologies is facilitating the project by providing the scale and platform to orchestrate the ecosystem. We realize that ‘open’ must mean just that, and the best way to maximize 5G’s potential is to eliminate constraints to interoperability, innovation and growth.

The scale of Dell’s commitment to the task is reflected in the OTEL facility currently under construction in Round Rock, Texas. Opening early in 2022, this cutting-edge lab will rapidly advance the boundaries of the possible by facilitating collaboration and real-world problem solving. Its advanced technical capabilities and maker spaces are complemented by a multidisciplinary team focused on business innovation and go-to-market strategy as well as technical innovation.

However, many CSPs face an urgent need to update their networks for 5G right now and transition from proprietary legacy systems to a software-defined future. That’s why our virtual OTEL lab is already open for business, giving access to industry leading tools and conducting multiple projects in parallel.

With secure remote access from anywhere in the world and the ability to mirror their own lab environments, users can create and manage test plans, access equipment and see OTEL lab results. Partners and customers are also able to connect their lab resources to ours to experience, develop and proof-of-concept new technologies as if they were on site in Round Rock.

How OTEL is opening up 5G potential

As networks move toward delivering infrastructure and applications at the edge, the number of components they need to deploy and manage will grow exponentially. This, in turn, involves more partners in the 5G value chain, with a commensurate growth in solution complexity.

OTEL is helping tame that complexity and clear the path to innovation in three ways:

  • Enablement services are driving industry standards compliance, simplifying integration and interoperability and creating an open ecosystem with maximum choice and agility.
  • Delivery services provide the engineering resources to manage the complexity of design, delivery and support.
  • Demonstration and learning facilities enable experimentation, learning and proof of concept, with rapid product co-creation and potential for go-to-market support from the global Dell Technologies sales team.

Ultimately this is all about improving outcomes for our customers. We do this by enabling true industry collaboration to make critical steps towards an ecosystem of open telecom solutions, including:

  • Certifications and development of open multi-vendor solutions.
  • Proofs-of-concept to accelerate time to market and time to revenue.
  • Facilitation of collective innovation and integration.

OTEL’s mission is to accelerate and simplify the creation of an open and modern telecom ecosystem. We can help you assemble, test, and validate complex end-to-end technical solutions at speed. But more than this, we empower you to create new business opportunities, with the support of one of the world’s leading enterprise sales teams.

Where will your 5G journey take you?

5G’s open, cloud native infrastructure is a blank canvas for innovation. There are rich rewards to be won, but speed is essential in this emerging marketplace.

We believe collaborating in an open, vendor neutral environment focused on technical excellence and business impact offers the clearest path to achieving those rewards.

If you would like to learn more about OTEL and Dell services for CSPs, visit the Dell Technologies telecom website.

1 IDC FutureScape, “Worldwide IT Industry 2021 Predictions,” October 2020.

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