Understanding customer challenges, desires, and status of adoption are elusive especially when dealing with a nascent domain. That’s where firms like Omdia play an important role in functioning as impartial researchers, surveying various network operators, probing for pain points, and discovering predilections and preferences.
Omdia’s latest survey released in November 2022, focuses on IP Transport Network Disaggregation and provides interesting insights into Network Operators’ areas of confidence, concern, fear, and future forecasts. Many of the statistics provided help shed light on the market’s mood regarding technologies like Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways/Routers (DCSGs), general disaggregated architecture, and the growing move toward open networks. There are several important takeaways from the survey that didn’t get the attention I think they deserved – Here are my top 3.
1. 2023 is the Year of DCSG
If you were to quickly flip through this survey you might totally miss the biggest takeaway. Buried under a mountain of apprehension and skepticism, way down on page 17 of 21, are a group of incredibly positive statistics that really deserved to be the headline. 45% of the respondents said that they plan to use DCSGs in 2023. That’s in addition to the 22% already using it and the 23% planning on adding it in 2024. That brings us to a total of 90% DCSG adoption over the next 24 months. That is HUGE news and an incredible turn of events for DCSG vendors of all sizes.
CSPs have a growing recognition that disaggregation brings with it, much needed freedom to negotiate, reduce network gear costs, and foster a more competitive vendor landscape for them to choose from. That said, white box open RAN vendors certainly have some challenges to contend with. While new DCSG vendors bring a lot of enthusiasm and innovation to the table, they will need to deliver quality products and solid customer support if they hope to wrestle a piece of the market share pie away from the time-tested industry titans' consumers currently trust.
2. It’s About More Than Simple Savings
Connectivity Service Providers (CSPs) want the freedom to choose and they want it now… 48% of CSPs, including mobile and incumbent fixed network service providers from all regions, responded that the biggest contributing factor in their decision to adopt transport network disaggregation is the “freedom of choice” in selecting network solutions for existing and greenfield deployments. It comes down to finding the best fit for their network needs and not simply what one single vendor may have to offer.
26% of respondents tie freedom of choice to their ability to be agile and they see network disaggregation as key to reaching that goal. It’s certainly true that the freedom to mix and match solutions offered by various vendors also puts CSPs in a great position when it comes time to negotiating prices, however, it’s now clear that CAPEX savings are secondary to freedom and flexibility.
3. Service Providers Have Confidence in DCSGs
This statistic is shockingly good news in my book. When asked about the reliability and security of disaggregated transport network routing and switching gears 20% said they were somewhat confident, 57% are confident, and 23% are very confident. For a relatively new technology to have that trust right out of the gate is saying something significant. Onboarding new customers is far easier if you don’t need to overcome an absence of trust.
That said, “42% of CSPs in all regions believe that emerging white box vendors’ experiences in operational support during network outages is a significant challenge in implementing transport network disaggregation” – in essence, experience matters. Many new vendors will need to prove they have the skills and team in place to deliver all the necessary support when customers are in a crunch.
In addition, some CSPs are worried about betting on a new vendor that simply may not be around to support them in the long run, a concern that doesn’t exist with legacy tier 1 vendors or smaller veteran vendors. They also want to make certain that the equipment they purchase will be part of a longer-term technology roadmap. 28% of CSPs responded that lack of future technology visibility and stable roadmaps are a potential challenge associated with onboarding new vendor network disaggregation. 34% of total respondents feel that multi-vendor interoperability and the potential to support all end-to-end networking protocols and innovations are also concerns.
Overall, the Omdia survey included elements of encouraging news. When nearly all the respondents unequivocally state that they plan on adding DCSG to their networks over the next 24 months, I’d say that is a great reason for optimism. It’s clear that we’ve reached a tipping point with DCSG and as more CSPs adopt the technology and begin to experience the real-world benefits the rest will undoubtedly follow.
Want to know more?
Read our Radio-Aware DCSG Whitepaper