3 services in 30 years, so how many verticals in 3 years?
A simple conundrum has haunted me for the last few months. 5G is providing new experiences, such as AR and VR offerings, to our traditional consumer customers. But our mobile cellular industry is also pushing into multiple new verticals with distinctive service categories, like future factories and eHealth, with the expectation of addressing these markets in the next three years or so.
So how will an industry that has essentially created and matured three mobile services over the past thirty years (voice, short messaging and internet connectivity), deal with this huge challenge of developing multiple markets in a few short years?
To enter this next generation of mobile services, we need to offer more than the greater flexibility and raw capability coming with 5G. We need to build on the strength and broad full-solution scope of Nokia’s Future X architecture, as applied to industry verticals. In particular, we need new methods and technologies that can accelerate design, development and deployment to webscale speed. But where’s the solution?
A chance dinner and the 5G PaaS vision
Earlier this year, I had dinner with my Paris colleague Laurent Roullet, who was in Dublin for an EU collaborative project meeting. He proceeded to speak enthusiastically for over an hour on what his team has been up to in their research on telco platforms. I came away hopeful that they may have the answer to the industry’s conundrum.
Laurent has a vision of a platform of platforms, a framework for Platform as a Service or PaaS. This framework separates the “what” (i.e., the service delivered) from the “how” (the platform delivering the service) from the “where” (the execution environment, be it software or hardware). Platforms are composed of reusable components, encompassing a wide range of functionality and execution environments. The key point is that they all work in a common manner across the full lifecycle from design to deployment to optimization.
I got to see this concept working for real, in action, at the Brooklyn 5G Summit. Laurent’s team showcased a demo with a 5G PaaS (RAN + core) that deploys a new network and services in seconds. The demo scenario starts with an emergency, such as a fire that requires close coordination between members of a fire-fighting team.
5G PaaS deploys a dedicated mobile cellular network on the fire vehicle, along with services such as drone video surveillance and push-to-talk communications, that all meet mission-critical performance KPIs. Once the red emergency button was pushed, it took less than three minutes to complete deployment of the 5G system.
With PaaS’s recursive nature, service definitions can extend well beyond those for connectivity and compute. For the demo, Nokia Bell Labs partnered with DroneHive, an innovative start-up dedicated to complete unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) automation. Their Hive system was developed to deploy and manage one or more drones without the need for a pilot, a more efficient way to use UAVs. This approach makes fully automated monitoring and reconnaissance missions possible for many emergency response scenarios. However, the power of 5G-PaaS is such that Hive is simply another platform that can be subsumed into the overall PaaS framework. Network, services and applications are all accommodated within a single framework!
Many industry verticals in 3 years
I came away from Brooklyn feeling much more enthusiastic about our ability to unlock the potential of 5G in multiple industry verticals. 3GPP standards will deliver the necessary functionality, but solutions like 5G PaaS from Nokia Bell Labs will provide the technology to support the fast design, implementation and deployment of 5G systems for new use cases. So the mobile cellular industry will have the technology it needs to address the huge opportunity of new 5G verticals in the next three years and beyond.