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Move to Converged 5G Packet Core & Reduce TCO up to 36%

The next generation in mobile connectivity, 5G Standalone (SA), is the launchpad for IoT, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, improved healthcare, broadband-like mobile services, immersive gaming, AR/VR, and more real-time data for better decisions. Many Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have deployed 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) first to quickly launch high-speed 5G services, keeping 5G SA as a longer-term goal. But new research shows that adopting 5G SA now can save the total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 36% in 5 years.

The Growing 5G Momentum and First-Mover Advantage

Initial commercial deployments for the ground-breaking technology are underway, with early 5G SA launches creating a buzz in the industry. Business drivers such as higher revenue and customer retention are motivating 5G SA deployments. Though some CSPs may have upgraded their 4G EPC to 5G NSA, it is really 5G SA that’s needed to deliver the high revenue-generating use-cases.

Deploying 5G SA brings more cost-efficient operations and a future-proof way for CSPs to supplement and eventually replace legacy technology services. While CSPs are interested in new business opportunities, they can also gain from 5G SA with lower costs from increased operational efficiency. The balancing act is to meet the growing demand for mobile traffic cost-effectively and generate new revenue streams by boosting network capacity. However, revenue protection and capital investments in existing networks cannot be ignored and become more challenging with time. Cost is always a key factor.

The costs are higher with multiple mobile cores as CSPs must still manage and support existing subscribers. Some CSPs will end up implementing 5G SA on a new mobile core and continue to deliver services of existing 4G EPC and 5G NSA cores. In that case, the cost to maintain multiple cores will be higher compared to the costs of maintaining a single converged mobile core that supports all technologies. But CSPs face the dilemma: how to justify introducing new 5G SA services to remain ahead of the competition? It’s intuitive that maintaining concurrent and multiple networks will be more expensive. However, market competition requires faster service deployment and the ability to cope with higher demands for capacity.

When 5G was first available, some CSPs quickly upgraded their network to 5G NSA but found they still could not provide the newest services that need ultra-low latency or network slicing. The result was reduced cost-effectiveness. Additionally, poor scalability, fault tolerance, lack of flexibility, limited automation, and difficulty in meeting frequent changes in capacity demand accrued even more cost. Besides operational costs for multiple cores, CSPs still have yearly hardware maintenance costs, software licenses, and depreciation on hardware equipment.

Converging Technologies are the Way Forward

The answer is a single cloud-native mobile core that introduces not only 5G SA but also supports existing technologies like 4G EPC and 5G NSA. This mobile core operates on an open architecture, is automated, runs on commercial hardware, on any cloud, and seamlessly integrates with 3rd party network functions. It’s also fully microservices-based and runs in containers. 

A single converged mobile core will not only bring significant savings for CSPs but also help them launch new business opportunities and fully tap into the 5G SA promise.

CSPs can leverage a single converged core instead of waiting to reap the cost and revenue benefits later. A TCO analysis by Senza Fili, commissioned by Mavenir, shows how each year of delay in moving to a converged 5G Core drives the costs of managing multiple mobile cores higher. The current delay penalties offset any future benefits. A late adopter can lose as much as 10% in the first year of delay and up to 36% in 5 years. Surprisingly, this accounts for only CAPEX and OPEX costs. This figure does not account for the loss of 5G revenue opportunities and benefits of a converged 5G core. The longer the MNO delays the transition to a Converged 5GC, the higher the transition costs.

Delaying an essential network transition will only increase costs in the long run. As the ‘fastest-growing software vendor for Converged 5G Core, Mavenir works closely with its customers to help them make the transition to open and intelligent networks. We deliver a flexible, cost-effective journey to 5G with multi-generational support for all G’s to modernize existing mobile networks while evolving to 5G. In addition, the Mavenir Converged 5G Core also supports non-3GPP access and can be tailored to fit any customer infrastructure and business needs.

-This article has been contributed by Dejan Leskaroski, VP & Head of Product Management at Mavenir.