LIVE FROM FYUZ22, MADRID: Seasoned Telefonica executive Enrique Blanco  argued operators’ mindsets are as important a factor in evolving to open network architectures as the underlying technologies, with better oversight and control key to enhancing the performance and sustainability of their infrastructure.

Telefonica’s global CTIO noted operators must adapt to reap the full benefits of open and disaggregated networking approaches by gaining greater insight into how networks are performing and then match this to the needs of specific customer groups or services.

“We need to evolve how we are planning the network today,” Blanco said, later noting operators are still trying to tackle emerging sectors including the metaverse using largely traditional approaches: “We need to change our mindset”, he said, explaining operators must look to fully employ software to deliver future improvements.

In this context, Rakuten Mobile arguably has a head start due to building its network from scratch with openness in mind.

CEO Tareq Amin noted open RAN itself had not emerged as a concept when work on its network began, but rather fitted in well with his self-confessed obsession with “disaggregation” as the foundation of its architecture.

Edgy
The executive explained he was determined to move away from traditional centralised network architectures and legacy nodes, using its position as a greenfield operator to deploy an edge-based network from the off.

Amin explained the “killer use case” enabled by 5G in Japan was not about data rates, but rather latency.

Rakuten Mobile’s approach, therefore is tailored around what services including the metaverse “will be and the requirements to make it function”.

For all the headlines generated by the metaverse, Amin said Rakuten Mobile sees it as “just another application that needs to be pushed as far to the edge” as possible. The operator’s greatest weapon, therefore, is a “dynamic workload allocation for whatever edge application” is being used.

Network slicing was inevitably identified as another key element in modern architectures: Laurent Leboucher, group CTO and SVP of Orange Innovation Networks, explained the approach offered another revenue opportunity by enabling the operator to tailor latency for specific applications.

In the case of the metaverse, for example, Leboucher noted he expects there to be different versions “not just one”, with network slicing enabling Orange to cater for the various requirements each places on its infrastructure spanning the bandwidth available and how it manages latency to adapt “to the quality of the network”.

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