Are network engineers about to be replaced with network designers as the "cloudification" of mobile networking continues, and the demand by distributed enterprises for secure, high-performance communications services is driving better tools?
We have already seen Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies evolve, with a wide range of Open RAN (or O-RAN) innovations change the way traditional mobile operators and their vendors operate. The sector, formerly known as "telecom," is now a sector that goes by many names, as the giants like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and others reposition themselves as "digital service providers," blurring the lines between voice, data, and video, displacing phone systems with mobile devices and scramble to remain relevant as over-the-top challengers turn carriers back into plumbers.
The amount of disruption, not only in the evolution of 2G/3G/4G/5G/6G standards and systems, but across many forms and layers of "Long Term Evolution" is inspiring a new breed of companies with big ideas, designed to enable the ways in which people and organizations behave – how they connect, live, work and play, and how they create value through connected interfaces.
5G and CBRS are seen by industry leaders and observers as the defining enterprise networking of the future. In large geographic areas where large-scale WiFi does not cut it, Private LTE/5G networks provide a cost-effective answer for IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions leveraging Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN), which support not just things – but people.
Jonathan Schwartz, a telecom and technology veteran and inventor of a disruptive approach to standing up and operating fully private cellular enterprise-grade networks and founder and CEO of JpU, believes we are on the verge of next-level edge connectivity for a broad range of computing and connectivity applications.
"With the convergence of more powerful hardware, which is smaller and less expensive than the complex and expensive equipment that has been required to build cellular networks, and cloud-first operating systems making the most out of the benefits of virtualization, we are officially in a new era of enterprise connectivity," Schwartz said.
JpU has quietly been implementing super secure, completely private cellular networks for organizations delivering mission-critical services, including energy companies who are instrumenting their distributed equipment in the field with sensors and wish to reduce costs while ensuring protection from external attacks to healthcare companies wishing to manage their physical and digital assets more efficiently.
"Our clients are switching when they see how easy it is to take control of their own networks, without having to rely on traditional mobile operators, which has become increasingly important given the growth at the edge and innovations possible when the economics of Private 5G/LTE drive costs down," Schwartz said.
"Without having to hire engineers, because of the way breakthrough software platforms work, enterprise or their managed service providers can completely oversee and control network performance and security. They are drastically reducing monthly costs and risks by adopting private cellular networks with 5G/LTE routers making this option the most attractive across a variety of industries."
Schwartz noted that the COVID-19 pandemic cast a bright light on the need to think and operate differently at the edge and says these challenger solutions which support all forms of media make it possible to support security cameras in smart cities and school campuses, work-from-home without worrying about VPN security disasters, telemetry on expensive equipment at factories and shipping ports, IoT and safety devices at oil and gas refineries, smart lighting and meters in remote communities as well as densely populated urban areas and more.
"The future lies with connectivity specialists," Schwartz said. "This is an empowering and defining moment for utilities, governments, educational institutions, and enterprises, and represents a positive disruption in the current market of the traditional cellular connectivity value chain."
Schwartz compares this to other watershed transformations when organizations relied on Private Branch Extension (PBX) systems that required large rooms with big, expensive machines to enable private communications, which have been replaced with Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other "OTT" solutions which are cloud-first.
Massive tech companies like Nortel went bankrupt and sold off assets to companies some called "junk collectors" who had the vision to evolve their enterprises to softswitches then session border controllers and application servers which drove the growth of IP infrastructure and applications like VoIP.
"Open-source alternatives like Asterisk and FreeSwitch, cloud UCaaS providers such as Microsoft or Zoom, and open API platforms like Twillio have taken the industry by storm," Schwartz said, "and today more enterprises than ever are either operating their own solutions or use IT companies to build these services for them, based on the ability to get simpler pricings, easy-to-use business rules engines, great user experience and much more."
A similar transformation is imminent in the mobile industry as well, Schwartz explained, predicting that the collapse of industry giants that do not adapt will be ongoing.
"To survive, the mobile industry has a new growth champion every other year. In 2016-2017, it was IoT to lead the charge, with booming global projections and infinite use cases. In 2018-2019, it was 5G, popping up with early adopters' mobile operators, promising unprecedented bandwidth and reliability, introducing use cases not feasible before," Schwartz explained.
"In 2021, the emerging promise is all about private mobile networks, battling WiFi to become the new standard enterprise wireless network of choice. Whether LTE or 5G, large enterprises recognize the value in its enhanced capability to support their business."
Private mobile networks offer many technological advantages, including ultra-low latency, wider coverage areas, better on-air security, increased device density, mobility with fallback to public networks, and much more, according to Schwartz.
"As these technologies advance, even the current price gap between the LTE/5G modem modules and WiFi modules will inevitably equalize with the increase in volumes for LTE/5G modules, and the authorization of free-to-use spectrum (like CBRS in the US and related regulation in Europe), as well as offerings from operators based on the licensed spectrum also helps to push the technology forward."
To Schwartz, simplicity equals disruption, and simplicity bundled with cost savings changes everything.
"Offering and providing mobile services, once reserved only for mobile operators, will now be allowed for a whole new range of approaches, whether empowering enterprise IT, OT and DevOps teams, opening a new offering for systems integrators, giving cable companies a highly competitive enterprise communications offerings that are far less expensive and more flexible, and cloud providers who can now add connectivity as a service to their cloud computing capabilities."
Schwartz says mobile operators are watching this space closely. "These new providers can disrupt the traditional telecom services delivery model and open the market up for new players and new models to better meet customers service expectations; this will spread like wildfire over the next few years."
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