The fourth annual DSP Leaders World Forum took place this year back in May. It was held at the stunning Fairmont Hotel Windsor which was a fantastic location due to its proximity to Heathrow. The invite-only event with high-quality attendees had a refreshing format of no presentation slides and consisted of mostly panel discussions and individual keynotes.
Here are some takeaways from this year’s event:
- With a propensity to leveraging the advantages of Cloud and with hyper-scalers now muscling in on the market, various aspects were discussed on how Cloud will revolutionise the industry. With the status quo being 3 to 4 major Cloud providers it was interesting to hear that this industry in itself is likely to drastically expand to 200+ Cloud providers who will address specific needs.
- There seems to be a lot of excitement regarding the potential of OpenRAN which is an operator lead initiative. The jury is out on specifically where and when this technology can be successfully deployed with contrasting views shared between BT and Vodafone. One thing is clear, for the RAN to work it will require seamless integration. Who is going to take the responsibility for making this a reality?
- There was a general acceptance among the attendees that the current status quo of the industry being dominated by 4 or 5 large equipment vendors will be shaken up through an open ecosystem. It is debatable where the investment will come from to support specialist small suppliers. This is due to the disaggregation of the network and how there is more of a need to solve operators’ complex issues with the drive to commoditise and drive down supply side pricing.
- The true convergence of mobile operators’ fixed and mobile networks is still being worked on. Given that 5G is seen as a convergent technology, Ahmed Hafez mentioned how Deutsche Telekom were testing the optional 5G ATSSS Extension as well as the BBF 5G controlling fixed and mobile 5G WWC standard.
- There was also a general realisation that the current setup is not friendly for smaller companies to work with larger operators. This is due to process and operational barriers. BT’s Chief Architect Neil McRae shared “we need to nurture startups… I’m looking for ways to help and support innovative new companies and we want to find better ways to do that.”
- Vodafone Group Fellow and Network Architecture Director Yago Tenorio discussed the use of Massive MIMO. In January, Vodafone announced their first roll out of OpenRAN in the UK which is an ongoing project. The next milestone they are working on is to take OpenRAN to a huge urban area using Massive MIMO.
A question which is often asked is whether the technology is mature enough to be taken into a year 1 environment and to deliver Massive MIMO. Vodafone believes so as they are doing so later this year.
By the end of this decade, 30% of Vodafone networks in Europe will be OpenRAN. Although it may seem like a long time away it’s not as to achieve it, roll-out would need to commence by 2025 or earlier. And for the rollout to start in 2025 Vodafone should have the vendor award finished in 2024 which means procurement should start very soon.
2023 will probably see a massive rollout happening globally. 5 years from now OpenRAN has the potential to deliver a 30% reduction in the total cost of ownership. A few things though need to happen before that. There needs to be an improved silicone landscape (Vodafone have opened a semi-conductor R&D lab in Malaga), enlist the innovation which OpenRAN is attracting and get system integration right. The hope is that this will deliver the supplier diversity that we’ve been looking for.
A big thank you to Telecom TV for providing excellent moderators and for making the event a great success!