6 Take-Aways From This Year

By Jeremy Ladner 13 min read

Oh, what a year it’s been for the telecom industry. Here we are in mid-December, temperatures are dropping and energy prices are rising. Many are digging into turkey dinners, sitting around tinsel-covered trees, or gathering with friends to root for their favorite World Cup team. As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time to take stock of our accomplishments as an industry and reflect on lessons learned. 

What goals can we set our sights on for 2023? How can we better serve our customers and investors? What can we do to best prepare for an uncertain future? We’ve put together a list of our 6 Top Take-Aways from 2022.

1. Combat High Energy Costs

It’s the topic at the top of everyone’s list. The pain is quantifiable, the challenge is unavoidable, and the end is nowhere in sight. Whether you attribute the cause to war in Eastern Europe or politicians with painfully shortsighted energy policies, the result is the same – energy cost increases of more than 300%.

I recently wrote an article covering several methods for telecom operators to cut energy costs. You can read the full article HERE. A good place to start is to remove costly copper cables from your 5G network expansion plan wherever you can. The cost of mining, processing, shipping, and installing copper cables is enormous. Moving from split mount to all-outdoor units or DCSG virtual split mounts, allows operators to cut out the copper costs from the equation entirely.

You can multiply your energy savings further by adding clever 2-in-1 devices like Ceragon’s IP-50FX that functions as a Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway (DCSG) and a virtual radio indoor unit (IDU). 2-in-1 solutions deliver obvious and immediate energy reduction benefits. 2-in-1 devices require half the energy to house, power, cool, manage, monitor, and maintain.

Finally, upping your operational efficiency with the aid of AI optimization can have an enormous impact on your energy OPEX. Utilizing a Network Management System (NMS) with AI capabilities allows operators to accurately assess complex traffic patterns. The AI can be used to automate the activation of additional radios during hours of peak traffic demand and deactivate radios during slower periods. Looking for more sustainability and energy-saving advice – Read This.

  1. Push to Close the Digital Divide

Extending coverage to remote locations and expanding coverage in underserved areas is an obvious win-win for everyone involved. Communities that were once isolated gain access to connectivity and all the associated benefits. The operators that serve them add new customers and potential for long-term growth.

The Problem has always been the upfront cost of infrastructure to reach typically tiny markets. No one in their right mind would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in opening a massive multi-plex movie house in a community with a few dozen people. Following that logic, network operators have an impossible task when it comes to convincing investors that bridging the digital divide to an island with a handful of inhabitants makes sound business sense.

Luckily two important things have happened over the past few years. First, wireless radio technology has put communities once beyond the bounds of high-throughput connectivity in reach, while simultaneously reducing costs. Second, governments are awarding billions of dollars in grants to operators willing to take the leap. In addition, technology companies like Meta and Google are developing transformative infrastructure like the Equiano and 2Africa cable systems.

Interested in reading more about bridging the digital divide? You may enjoy THIS ARTICLE.

  1. When Working in an Uncertain World Have a Plan

War rages in Eastern Europe and threatens to spread across the continent. Malicious actors motivated by politics or big paydays lurk in every corner of the globe. Natural disasters can blow down, burn up, or wash away your network infrastructure anywhere at any time. Having a plan in place to deal with disaster is the responsibility of every network operator, especially those in charge of critical infrastructure.

Disaster recovery details and redundancies will vary from network to network, but the common denominator remains the same – You need to have a plan, and you need to keep it current.

Don’t count on the plan put in place by the person who sat in your chair five years ago… even if that was you. With a few years of experience under your belt and a whole host of new threats and technologies to consider it’s definitely worthwhile to dust off the old plan and give it a thorough audit. Investing a few hours now can save you a ton of worries down the road.

Want to learn more about planning for Disaster Recovery – we’ve got the perfect SHORT VIDEO for you.

  1. Cut Through the Chaos with Managed Network Services

Today’s network rollouts come with countless technical and logistical challenges, from chip shortages to supply chain issues, to tumultuous geopolitical turmoil. Add to that the increasing number of spectrum parameters to be monitored, the demands of cell site densification, the vast variety and volume of hardware, software, and network elements required, as well as modern multi-vendor configurations that need to work together seamlessly. It all culminates in a storm of chaos that makes the task of on-time, on-budget network rollout nearly insurmountable.

Putting a scalable deployment process in place capable of handling whatever challenges rollout can put in your path comes down to three key components:

TEAM: Work with a team of experts that can provide years of hands-on experience planning, deploying, operating, and maintaining mobile transport networks

TECHNIQUE: Employ innovative methodologies and proven techniques that deliver real-world value and can easily integrate with your existing processes.

TECHNOLOGY: Leverage the latest software tools and AI advancements that enable precise data-driven actions and automation and efficiency upgrades.

For many operators, the simplest and most affordable way to meet rollout resource requirements is partnering with an outsourced service provider that has the on-demand Team, Technique, and Technology needed.

Looking for more info about Managed Network Services – Give THIS a read.

  1. Leverage Disaggregation to Maximize Optimization

If we were to put together a list of telecom buzzwords for 2022, Disaggregation and Optimization would both be sitting somewhere at the top of that list, and for good reason. Do more with less – it’s the challenge we’re all facing. The constant call to cut costs and tighten budgets is making the promise of ever-expanding 5G network capacity and coverage far more difficult to deliver. Now more than ever, the ability to quickly learn, adapt and remain flexible separates winners from wannabes.

The same can be said of the next generation of routers we’re adding to our networks. They need to have the flexible functionality to handle today’s tasks and adapt to tomorrow’s challenges, plus play their part in pushing down CAPEX and OPEX. That’s no easy feat. Disaggregation brings a buffet of benefits to the table. Like a wider array of router options, the subsequent downward pressure on prices, more rapid rollout of innovations for software and hardware, and the competitive incentivization to include future-friendly solutions that help to extend the lifespan of routing-focused infrastructure investments.

With all of that said, the biggest benefit of router disaggregation may be the freedom and flexibility it gives to network operators to continually assess their router’s performance and make easy upgrades without needing to do a full rip-and-replace. According to global research firm Omdia, Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG) already accounted for around 10% of all new CSGs in 2021 and are expected to grow rapidly to 25% by the end of 2024.

Looking to learn more about Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways? – HERE is an article you may enjoy.

  1. Handle Your Aging Network

An endless onslaught of innovations seems like an unquestionably good thing, right? Well overall it is, but no one could blame network operators for feeling a bit overwhelmed with the recent torrent of technological advancements. How are operators supposed to know when the right time is to say goodbye to aging infrastructure and invest in network upgrades?

Often there are some pretty clear signs that it’s time to say goodbye to aging devices. Units no longer function optimally, repeated maintenance calls, gear that can’t keep up with modern network usage demands, or, when you receive the ominous ‘End of Life’ notification from your vendor.

There are a few options to consider when dealing with deteriorating networks:

    •  Full Upgrade and Replacement

Goodbyes can be difficult and expensive – but the same can be said about collapsing networks and disgruntled customers. Once you’ve replaced your aging network, keep it as optimized as possible. Attempt to build future replacement schedules based on expected lifecycles so that you can anticipate and plan for the subsequent upgrades.

    • The Gradual Phase Out

Migrating to newer technology slowly as equipment fails seems like a reasonable choice. This option allows for a gradual transition to future technology. A word of caution here – not all new tech is backward compatible or cross-vendor compatible. Holding on to old infrastructure may push off the need to make major purchases, but it can also have the side effect of limiting your choices when considering next-gen gear.

    • Pick A Solid Service Partner

Advanced Service agreements that include equipment replacements and automatic upgrades seemingly have the highest up-front cost, but there’s a good chance that this option will save you the most money over time. Advanced Service agreements offer built-in protection so that as equipment ages, it will be replaced by new units when needed, and as equipment becomes obsolete, the replacements will be made with upgraded units.

Want to read more about how to handle aging network infrastructure – have a look at THIS article.

One of the greatest things about this time of year, aside from the festivities with family and friends, is the opportunity to stop and reflect on the past while looking forward to the future. A new year awaits, full of promise and potential. So, once the holidays are behind us and the new year is underway, we welcome you to get in touch with us to see how we can help you make 2023 a year to remember.  

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