Driving value from telecoms networks beyond CPaaS: the opportunity to revolutionize application delivery
15 February 2023 | Research
Communications service providers (CSPs) invested USD103 billion in building 5G networks in 2022 and are expected to spend a further USD129 billion in 2023. The 5G networks they are rolling out contain many new features that are designed to support the needs of Industry 4.0 use cases, such as drone-based remote inspection, public safety, automated guided terrestrial vehicles, digital twin-driven supply chains, reconfigurable manufacturing systems and mixed reality-based maintenance. These use cases will transform operational processes across industry sectors so that they deliver new levels of efficiency, customer experience and sustainability but the processes will not function without secure, highly available, resilient and low-latency connectivity to support them.
Network features need to be an integral part of Industry 4.0 application software so that developers can match specific properties of the network, such as quality of service and hyper-accurate positioning, to the specific needs of their use cases. This represents a departure from the way that developers have built operational applications in the past, where they treat networks as ‘dumb’ connectivity despite the significant amount of intelligence that networks actually contain. Since 5G networks are the first telecoms networks to be built as cloud-native, software-defined infrastructure that can run in the cloud in a similar way to emerging cloud-native operational technology (OT) applications, 5G network features can be programmed into OT application pipelines and can interact directly with OT applications through application programming interfaces (APIs). When developers can call network features through APIs and combine them with application logic, they can address new Industry 4.0 cases that have not been previously achievable, boosting innovation and creating new value for enterprise customers.
Such is the promise of a new network-enabled ecosystem that encompasses network owners (CSPs) developers and enterprises. All the stakeholders in this ecosystem want to generate new revenue from Industry 4.0: CSPs by giving developers access to the network properties that they are investing in so heavily; developers from the new application experience that they can deliver as a result of this access; and enterprises from the new products and services that the applications will support. However, the birth of such an ecosystem faces two major challenges.
- Developers are not network specialists so they need a familiar way of accessing and incorporating a wide range of network capabilities into their applications, through simplified APIs, software development toolkits (SDKs) and code development support services. If the ecosystem is to attract a critical mass of developers, it must also provide developers with a common set of network APIs that work across multiple CSP networks. Developers expect to develop once and have their applications work across any network. If an individual CSP provides network APIs in a ‘walled garden’ model that does not follow industry standards, it will limit the number of developers prepared to use its APIs.
- CSPs need a return on their substantial investment in 5G and the valuable properties they are building into their cloud-native networks. It is expensive to build feature-rich 5G and 5G advanced networks and CSPs want to maximise their revenue gain from the increasing number of features that their networks provide. CSPs need a way of providing developers with the common set of APIs without having the value of those APIs stripped away from them by a third-party aggregator.
This report discusses network platform as a service (NPaaS), the solution to those challenges.
Driving value from telecoms networks beyond CPaaS: the opportunity to revolutionize application deliveryDownload