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A new silver lining for MBB when networks go cloudy

Feb 17, 2017 By Zhang Xi

    Key takeaways:

  • NB-IoT terminals are near perfect for near ubiquitous coverage due to their cost and power-use advantages.
  • By setting up an MVNO subsidiary, operators can develop new services under new brands.

Mobile Internet has enabled OTT services to flourish, breaking the original value chain and creating massive challenges for telcos. Because current networks are no longer up to the task of meeting the varied needs of different verticals, cloud networks can help operators expand business boundaries, create new business models, and build open ecosystems.

IoT Packet Core

IoT is set to become a key blue-ocean market in the future, with Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) as the main enabling tech. NB-IoT terminals are near perfect for near ubiquitous coverage: They’re inexpensive, consume very little power, and offer Plug and Play functionality. 

One NB-IoT application is smart parking, which given today’s urban congestion is needed more than ever. In fact, some 30 percent of traffic jams are caused by drivers looking for a parking spot. Intelligent parking systems locate spaces straight away, which drivers can then reserve to avoid driving around lots to look for empty ones.

Huawei offers an intelligent parking solution based on NB-IoT networks. Its main feature is IoT Packet Core, which offers scalable and flexible network support for IoT applications as part of Huawei's CloudEdge solution. 

IoT Packet Core provides signal management functionality for low-power and low-cost UE, enhanced coverage, and congestion control. For example, NB-IoT enhances 20 dB more coverage than GPRS, allowing near ubiquitous network coverage and solving the problem of weak signals in underground parking lots. Vehicle detectors based on NB-IoT are plug-and-play, provide a decade’s battery life, and are very easy to maintain. The solution also offers carrier-grade reliability and security.

In 2016, Huawei carried out demonstrations of the intelligent parking system with a number of operators in different parts of the world, including Bell in Canada, T-Mobile in Germany, ET in the UAE, Shanghai Unicom in China, and LG U+ in South Korea. At the end of 2016, Huawei started deploying the system commercially for Shanghai Disney in partnership with Shanghai Unicom.

CloudMSE

The data explosion and popularity of smart devices and mobile broadband (MBB) are driving the rapid development of the MBB market. But, services are becoming more complex. With fixed and mobile networks converging, operators are facing more difficulties with profit models, billing, and user experience.

Huawei's CloudMSE solution is based on the cloudification technology GiLAN. The solution provides multiple types of access methods, including GPRS, UMTS, LTE, CDMA, WiFi, and Fix. It offers service-based billing and bandwidth control, service awareness, and a third-party app integration platform for smart service chain. CloudMSE enables integrated operations and management on third-party apps, and flexibly orchestrates the service chain based on user, access type, and OTT services. New services can be quickly launched, helping operators shorten TTM and lower CAPEX and OPEX by solving the management problems on traditional MBB networks.

Intelligent service aggregation platform

Standardized operation models and an outstanding service experience are operators' core competitive strengths. For MBB networks, service usage frequency and loyalty are determined by user experience, which directly impacts operators’ earnings. QoE is in turn determined by a range of factors such as the newness, richness, tariff, and access speed of services.

To retain high-value users, deliver diverse and personalized services, and refine pipe operations, more mobile operators are increasing network functions on the Gi interface. These include new services such as header enhancement, transmission optimization, content optimization, content filtering, and ad insertion. Huawei's CloudMSE solution provides a smart services aggregation platform that integrates industry-leading third-party applications and provides more agile and efficient GiLAN solutions for operators.

Extensive third-party capabilities help build the app ecosystem

Operators can greatly enhance user experience, boost loyalty, and attract new subscribers with VAS, precise pipe operations using the Gi interface data, and functions such as content optimization and acceleration. Huawei's CloudMSE solution integrates industry-leading third-party VAS applications, allowing operators to rapidly deploy VAS solutions, optimize pipeline operations, and improve end-user experience.

The Saudi Arabian carrier Zain wanted to lower its international bandwidth and cut costs by optimizing video traffic so it could offer more competitive service plans. Zain adopted Huawei's CloudMSE video optimization solution, deploying the services aggregation platform and using third-party video optimization modules. This helped the operator reduce bandwidth by 11.57 percent.

CloudUIC

In today's era of rapid MBB traffic growth, operators must extract more value from data services as well as provide pipe bandwidth for connectivity. Better O&M planning and marketing, automated services, and improved support for third-party enterprise applications can all help create new services and income streams.

Based on Huawei's CloudEdge solution, CloudUIC can open network capabilities. It combines and orchestrates various atomic capabilities on operator networks, providing a large number of interfaces that can be invoked by third-party applications. Among these, location and QoS capabilities deliver the greatest value.

Opening capabilities: Digital Footprint

Huawei's Digital Footprint solution integrates MBB network location capabilities for third-party demand, allowing third parties to invoke the services they need via APIs. It collects, positions, and analyzes location data for mobile operators, including location history analysis and real-time location analysis, and opens these up to third parties via APIs. Operators and third parties can then develop new business models for commercial applications.

Opening capabilities: On-demand acceleration

Huawei's on-demand acceleration solution packages operators' QoS resources into APIs and makes them available for Internet applications to invoke. The solution can accelerate OTT services for tens of millions of users on demand without complex PCC configuration or verification on the PCRF. The main value of Huawei's on-demand acceleration solution lies in providing flexible QoS guarantees and easily invoking APIs.

Solutions for verticals

Cloud-based networks cause diverse requirements and new application scenarios to quickly emerge, bringing both opportunities and challenges.

Automated MVNO for operators

Opportunity:  MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) is a new option for traditional operators to deploy in specific market segments to respond to competition. By setting up an MVNO subsidiary, operators can develop new services under new brands and adopt more radical market strategies to attract customers without being tied to their original brands or customer bases.

Challenge: MVNOs are separately deployed, and miniaturized equipment is needed to lower costs; different MVNO customers require different versions, features, and O&M methods; and highly stable hardware is needed to provide QoS guarantees.

Enterprise wireless broadband

Opportunity: As LTE technology matures and develops, 4G chips and terminals are getting cheaper, and 4G applications are becoming more popular. Operators can deploy LTE small cells and enterprise-level evolved packet core (EPC) inside large companies. Local data services can be accessed via local breakout (LBO), providing the shortest path. This helps reduce the use of valuable EPC backbone bandwidth and network traffic, but it also improves user experience. In addition, SMEs can consider outsourcing office wireless network infrastructure to operators to reduce the amount they have to invest in IT, increase reliability, and enable better indoor coverage to improve network experience for employees.

Challenge: Equipment must be deployable without requiring installation, configuration, or maintenance, and it must be easy to use. It needs to be low-cost to help reduce companies' IT investment burden.

Public safety

Opportunity: Public safety bodies must be able to deal with events like emergencies, civil unrest, traffic accidents, natural disasters, and large public events. To do so, these bodies need to use technology, including information platforms, big data systems, and video surveillance.

Natural and man-made disasters have the potential to damage communications equipment or block it through congestion due to a surge in use. Emergency vehicle-mounted communications systems, including base stations, miniature EPCs, and cluster servers can be rapidly deployed to emergency sites. They allow rescue personnel to communicate and provide clustered voice services within the signal range of the vehicle-mounted base station. The solution ensures the reliability of unified command and dispatch through temporary command centers.

Challenge: Equipment needs to be very reliable so it won't be damaged or rendered inoperable if disaster strikes, and scaled down in size so it can be easily deployed on different kinds of emergency communications vehicles.

Huawei's miniature EPC, aka the Core in a Box, provides 4S functionality.

Small: The solution supports 3U and 1U devices that consume little power, leaving a small footprint. 

Simple: Plug-and-play doesn’t require installation, commissioning, or maintenance, and supports various management options. 

Saving: It’s inexpensive and doesn’t incur maintenance or high energy costs. 

Stable: The solution is extremely stable, offering 99.999 percent carrier-grade reliability and high disaster resistance.

Huawei's miniature EPC has enterprise-level ease of use and easy O&M, so it doesn’t require installation, configuration, or maintenance. It also meets strict carrier-level downtime requirements and can be rapidly deployed at relatively low cost. As a result, it’s perfect for niche and new markets.

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