PARTNER CONTENT: When a Michelin-starred chef explains how they go about creating a new dish, you begin to see why Telecom Infra Project (TIP) chose a foody theme for its FYUZ 22 event.
During a fireside chat on the main stage of the three-day event, renowned Spanish chef Jordi Cruz told Meta Platforms’ country director for Iberia Irene Cano Piquero the task of creating a new menu is a long, obsessive process.
Cruz begins by visualising the dishes he wants to create, but was quick to note that focusing solely on the aesthetic is not enough. His food must appeal to a broad range of tastes, meaning his process involves a long gestation period.
The parallels to the mobile and technology industry FYUZ catered to are clear. TIP served-up three days dedicated to key themes involved in the push to develop open and disaggregated networks, covering open RAN, the TIP Summit and a Meta Platforms-hosted day which delved into the nascent metaverse.
Over the course of the event, 150 speakers discussed the key issues during 50 keynotes and panel sessions, with more than 30 sponsors exhibiting and joining the conversation.
A common theme across all three days was that collaboration is key to achieving what many speakers conceded was a major disruption to the network status quo.
The collaboration element was highlighted right from the off, with an opening keynote featuring TIP chair and Vodafone Group executive Santiago Tenorio along with O-RAN Alliance chair Alex Choi, a combination Tenorio said sent a “very clear message” regarding the common goal of disaggregating network components, infrastructure and controls.
Why does this work matter? Tenorio cited the gradual erosion in competition in the infrastructure supply chain, “particularly in the radio” element, with only three main players to choose from in many markets.
Representatives from operators, equipment suppliers and consultancies hammered home the benefits of competitors setting aside their differences in favour of long-term gain, though NTT Docomo, Vodafone Group, Orange, Telefonica and Omantel highlighted integration and security challenges around open architectures, while NEC director of 5G strategy Alla Goldner noted operators would need to keep a tight focus on costs in any move towards a multi-vendor environment.
The matter of costs is not restricted to operators: Accenture 5G expert Aurelio Nocerino explained it is also a concern for the testing sector due to the number of elements involved in an open architecture environment, something he said “no single supplier” could really afford.
Joel Brand, senior director of product marketing at Marvell Technology, argued costs were a factor fuelling a need to change more than just the infrastructure and technologies involved in deploying open and disaggregated networks.
He highlighted traditional volume-based pricing models as an element restricting the ability of smaller players to compete, a point fellow panellist John Baker, SVP of ecosystem business development at Mavenir, agreed with.
TIP tackled this complexity at the opening of its self-titled summit on day two, launching a testing and verification framework for operators and equipment providers covering open and disaggregated products.
Kristian Toivo, TIP executive director, explained the organisation acted because the process of validation was previously commenced from scratch each time.
In a talk which echoed Sun Microsystems’ write once, run anywhere slogan for the Java programming language in the 1990s, Toivo explained TIP aimed to deliver a “verify and validate once, and deploy many” testing and validation set-up which he noted was more market focused, with a bronze, silver and gold badge arrangement to highlight the different levels of maturity of products and systems, a feature the organisation noted would benefit operators of all sizes.
Of course, for operators, some of the potential additional costs are offset through opex savings brought about by the greater level of automation in network management.
And while there was attention regarding operators’ total cost of ownership, the real rub in terms of costs came during the Metaverse Connectivity Summit on day three, when various executives noted the companies must seek to fully cash-in on the emerging sector, avoiding past mistakes when they footed the bill for deploying new network technologies without reaping the revenue of the services these enabled.
By definition, the day did not seek to specifically define the metaverse, though Meta Platforms senior director of product development Austin Chang highlighted its work around creating super-realistic avatars and its VR-based Horizon Worlds multiplayer game platform as examples of how it is laying the groundwork for the kind of experience the metaverse might provide.
In much the same way as a top chef might create a new dish, Horizon Worlds is Meta Platforms’ vision of what the future might look like.
But, as any chef will tell you, creating the dish is pointless if it is not consumed, a fact not lost on Meta Platforms, which plans to broaden the audience for Horizon Worlds by expanding availability beyond VR headsets on to PCs and smartphones in 2023.
Regardless of your view of the metaverse or efforts to overhaul the mobile infrastructure market with an open and disaggregated approach, TIP’s FYUZ 22 certainly provided plenty of food for thought.