In the last three months, Microsoft has been on a tear building out its portfolio of 5G core and virtualized network service management technologies having acquired Affirmed Networks, and most recently, Metaswitch. The acquisition of these telecom tech companies by the leading enterprise IT technology company and cloud service provider may seem curious at first, but these transactions highlight the acceleration of a transformative trend that we at neXt Curve dubbed Under-the-Bottom (UTB) in our 2019 technology horizon study for Ofcom, the United Kingdom’s communications and media sector regulator.
Necessity is the mother of invention. There has been no moment of need in modern times as urgent as what we face today as humanity grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. In three months, the virus has spread to over 180 countries around the globe, infecting millions, and has arrested the largest and smallest of economies. At the same time, it has created an unprecedented need for connectivity and communications. Now, more than ever, unconventional thinking and leadership as well as innovative applications of technologies such as 5G are dire necessities for addressing the many COVID-19-related challenges that are disrupting millions of lives and jeopardizing trillions in economic value.
The approval of the $26.5 billion T-Mobile and Sprint merger by a federal court in New York opens the gates for a long awaited deal close. Contested by thirteen US states as a marriage that would water down competition and cause harm to the consumer, the transaction is expect to create a formidable third telecommunications player in the US market. The hopes and fears associated with the combined company will depend on thoughtful integration and realization of compelling synergies that could substantially change the competitive dynamic of the US telecommunications industry.
With the advent of 5G there has been growing interest in what the next-generation mobile network technology means for industry. Operators and industrial OT (Operational Technology) players have been investigating the use cases and potential value that the 5G promises and technology can bring to manufacturing, supply chain and the factory of the future. It is commonly known and expected that 5G will bring about massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) and enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), but what do these use cases mean for manufacturers? Are these really the 5G promises that matter for the smart factory and the ongoing evolution of Industry 4.0?
July has been a watershed month for AT&T as it enters into two major "cloud deals", one with Microsoft and another with the newly merged IBM and Red Hat. At first glance, the two deals seem oddly contradictory - a collision of proprietary Microsoft cloud (although about half of Azure workloads run on top of Linux) with open source cloud from the combined IBM and Red Hat. But why two cloud deals? What makes them different? What does it mean for the companies involved?
You can't blame technology vendors and service providers for pushing the limits of marketing hype with Artificial Intelligence (AI). After all, it is hottest buzzword since cloud computing. But digital service providers in the emerging era of 5G need practical, real "AI" solutions to cost-efficiently scale their operations and deliver the quality of service that will deliver the promise of 5G to themselves as well as their customers. Hybrid approaches to AI are needed to accelerate return on investment as operators evolve their infrastructure and operations for a 5G future.
Since the term "Cloud Computing" was coined, CSPs (Communications Service Providers) have had a tremendous challenge developing viable cloud capabilities and offerings for their enterprise clients that compete with emerging digital infrastructure players such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. With 5G on the horizon it is ever more critical that traditional telco operators find their cloud mojo lest current cloud leaders and new intermediary entrants make a move to the middle to take the great 5G promise away from them.