Imagining the Possibilities of a Cloud-Native, Massively Automated 5G Network

July 28, 2022
minute read

Even as network rollouts continue, 5G has not yet enabled the disruptive service that was promised. It’s simply not delivered on the promise of fully autonomous cars and remote surgeries. It’s been more of the same.

"The big thing that is being disrupted is the business model."

- Azita Arvani, GM, Rakuten Symphony Americas

At the recent Qualcomm 5G Summit in San Diego, Rakuten Symphony America's GM Azita Arvani challenged MNOs to stop thinking the old way. While network speed has improved, operators are struggling to realize the benefits of 5G. Their business models and network flexibility have not evolved to the point that they can facilitate advanced services.

Qualcomm 5G Summit panel "5G is Everywhere. Now What?" From left to right: Moderator Durga Malladi, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc, Sadayuki Abeta, NTT DOCOMO Inc., Azita Arvani, Rakuten Symphony, and Martin Lund, Microsoft.

For operators to realize the true benefits of 5G, they need more than disruptive technology. Arvani declared, “the big thing that is being disrupted is the business model.” 5G will have arrived, she said, only when a network application can access a customized, automatically generated 5G network slice while the MNO makes money on it.

When that happens, the industry will have arrived at a business model and a flexible network model that will make the most of 5G technology. It will change the way the industry looks at a successful 5G rollout. “Growing average revenue per user (ARPU) is the best measure of 5G success.”

Realizing the promise of 5G

Arvani shared her views during the Qualcomm 5G Summit in a panel “5G is Everywhere. Now What?” She was joined by Sadayuki Abeta, Ph.D., VP & GM, NTT DOCOMO Inc. and Martin Lund, CVP, Azure for Operators, Microsoft. The panel was hosted by Durga Malladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cellular Modems and Infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Panelists were asked to comment on 5G’s critical role in digital transformation, upcoming 5G capabilities and the economics of 5G. The conversation ranged from advances in network build outs to the promise of new use cases. The upbeat nature of the panelists was summarized by Microsoft’s Martin Lund who said, “However big you think it’s going to be — it’s going to be bigger.”

Azita Arvani speaking at the Qualcomm 5G Summit

Arvani said that realizing the potential of 5G and monetizing it requires reducing network service costs and increasing network agility. She said, “You need to provide an agile platform so you can bring new services and add revenue.” To get there requires three sweeping changes to how mobile operators build their networks:

How can operators realize the potential of 5G?
  1. Simplify the RAN: The radio access network, or RAN, is the most expensive part of the network, and simplifying it can help reduce costs and drive new performance. By disaggregating the RAN software from the radio hardware and embracing open standards, operators can choose technology that offers better performance and reduced cost.
  2. Embrace Cloud Native: Embracing Kubernetes and microservices provides better agility, sustainability and cost savings, but operators must be sure their cloud handles telco workloads, which have different performance requirements than IT workloads. Not all clouds are built to handle complex RAN workloads.
  3. Simplify Operations: Mobile networks can be complex, but this complexity can be managed with automation. Automation and AI help a network to be more responsive, more agile, and adept at handling issues in real time, minimizing the number of humans involved. Arvani said, “How do you simplify operations? By deploying massive automation.”

Making  5G easy

Azita Arvani with Cristiano Amon, President and CEO, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Brownfield operators can ease into this new open RAN and cloud-native architecture. For example, if operators have new spectrum where they would like to deploy 5G, they can consider the open RAN option, or use automation tools for their existing systems.

For greenfield operators, they need look no further than the Rakuten Mobile network in Japan. Taking the bold, pioneering step to adopt a cloud-native and software-based architecture gave it a low cost and fast time to market advantage, but it wasn’t easy. The early days saw technical challenges, but the belief in simplicity helped Rakuten Mobile overcome these challenges.

“How do you simplify operations? By deploying massive automation.”

The approach allowed Rakuten Mobile to launch its 4G network in 2020 and its 5G launch just six months later. Arvani said that Rakuten Symphony was created to capture that experience. And operators around the world are beginning to turn to Rakuten Symphony to learn about telco transformation and even participate in it. As Arvani said on the stage in San Diego, Rakuten Symphony has created an “Easy Button” for mobile operators who are looking to the future of telecoms.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Click here to watch the full conversation:

Subscribe to Covered, a Newsletter for Modern Telecom

You are signed up!

Thank you for joining. You are now a part of the Rakuten Symphony community. As a community member, you will receive news, announcements, updates, insights and information in our eNewsletter.
How can Symphony help?
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Notice for more information.