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Juniper Networks 2020 Predictions: 5G Will Come in Many Forms

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Sally Bament, VP of Cloud & Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

5G Will Come in Many Forms 

2020 is poised to be a transformative year for service providers as developments in 5G, AI and 400G drive innovation across the industry. In the year ahead, we will see a variety of 5G deployment styles, seamless VR/AR experiences and major M&A deals concerning AI leaders.

All flavors of 5G welcome

When it comes to rolling out 5G services, there isn't a "one-size-fits-all" approach. As we've seen in recent months, many of the top service providers are doing things differently. Whereas Verizon and AT&T have launched 5G networks using high-band spectrum to deliver high speeds to targeted areas, T-Mobile has compromised speed with a low band spectrum in order to service a wider coverage area. Meanwhile, Sprint is betting on mid-band spectrum. Over the next five years, service providers will have multiple ‘layers' of 5G coverage, depending on spectrum re-farming and allocations, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. In addition, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) will begin to roll out in 2020 and, if successful, will accelerate wider 5G coverage (and allow LTE to remain a workhorse), especially for SPs without low/mid-band spectrum available. One thing is certain: all of these methods will be welcome.  

Game on with cloud gaming

The gaming industry opportunity is no longer a secret as cloud hyperscalers have rushed in to get a piece of the action. Turns out, Cloud Gaming on the move is also one of the hottest consumer use cases of 5G, driven by the need for big bandwidth and near zero latency to render real-time, multiplayer, action games from the cloud. Consumer use cases for 5G will become clearer in 2020 with high def video, AR/VR/MR and Cloud Gaming in the top three.

Equipment vendors will deliver on the promise of 400G

As network traffic continues to grow exponentially, cloud hyperscaler data centers, followed by service provider WANs, data centers and eventually metro networks will reap the benefits of 400G and the unprecedented capacity it will bring. This year we saw the big providers start to unearth the potential of 400G networks, but in 2020 and beyond, the focus will be on deploying  400G-ready networks so users can fully realize  the rewards of 5G, AR/VR, 4K video production and other high-bandwidth applications.

M&A will end the era of ‘AI-washing'

Everyone wants a hand in AI, and many emerging businesses have been guilty of "AI-washing" rather than delivering true self-learning and operating smart technology. In 2020, the true AI providers will distinguish themselves from the imposters through capital investments and purchases. As more large telecom companies and enterprises look to utilize advanced AI capabilities for streamlined network operations and connectivity, we will see a spike in M&A deals targeting smaller AI firms in 2020. After all, AI and automation are critical to managing ever increasing network complexity and ensuring fast delivery of services in the cloud era.

Esoteric routing protocol innovations enter the spotlight

Routing protocols, including segment routing and EVPN, take center stage as lofty "digital transformation" and "cloudification" visions at service providers (SPs) hit the execution phase. Incumbent network operators are stuck between two worlds: looking forward with plans to "cloudify" their businesses but faced with the reality of existing networks and legacy organizations. Routing innovations can help bridge the gap between the billions of dollars of investment already in the ground and the move to architectures more suited for the cloud era.

EVPN will gain in usage as SPs discover it's a key protocol in merging layer 2 and layer 3 networks. EVPN overlays are breathing new life into legacy, L2 data centers by bringing the benefits of IP fabric architectures down into spines and leaves. In the metro, EVPN will be an important tool in linking L2 metro networks with L3 edge networks, as some network functions that have historically resided in centralized SP PoPs (points of presence) are distributed further out to the new edge of the network - that is, closer to end users.

Wireline wireless convergence

Over two decades ago, service providers (SPs) realized that running multiple IP networks in parallel wasn't economical. This ultimately led to convergence on IP as the universal protocol of choice. Network "convergence" has had a checkered past since then, with numerous false starts. What ever happened to cellular/WiFi convergence?

With revenues flat and traffic continuing to explode, the unsustainable state of network economics needs another disruption. The 5G deployment cycle offers an insertion opportunity for new converged architectures. Wireless offload solutions can re-route the traffic of data-hogging mobile subscribers over wireline cores built for bandwidth and performance rather than mobile cores (EPC) primarily designed for mobility and portability. Converged subscriber core architectures are being driven by industry groups, including the Broadband Forum (BBF) and 3GPP, with standards for 5G/wireline mediation functions such as access gateway function (AGF) and fixed mobile internetworking function (FMIF). In 2020, SPs begin serious wireless wireline convergence efforts.

Hybrid Telco Clouds of VNF, CNF and PNF

Driven by the need for speed and enticing new revenue opportunities, service providers are investing - and will continue to invest in - cloud technologies supporting Virtual Network Functions (VNFs). The healthy selection of VNF-based solutions supports a diverse ecosystem of software solutions while offering choice to avoid vendor lock-in. However, some service providers view the VNF model as a phased approach to achieving the long-term goal of a cloud-native environment based on containers, Kubernetes, microservices and service mesh. The reality is that telco cloud technology will host a hybrid environment of VNF, CNF and even PNFs to support those data-centric computes that are simply outside the price-performance boundary of the standard Intel x86 CPU.


About the Author

Sally Bament 

Sally Bament, vice president of cloud & service provider marketing at Juniper Networks, is responsible for leading and executing the company's marketing plans to drive awareness and demand for Juniper's industry-leading networking solutions. Sally brings more than 25 years of experience in management, program management, marketing, sales and business development in the networking and telecommunications industries.

Published Thursday, January 23, 2020 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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