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Upside for New 5G Network Transport Infrastructure

The global mobile communication sector is in the midst of a significant network infrastructure upgrade to support the introduction of new high-bandwidth and low-latency broadband service offerings. 

Telecom service provider data centers have an important role in fifth-generation (5G) network deployments. Providers undergoing their transition to Stand-Alone (SA) 5G must understand the technical demands of telco data centers and the key enablers of those offerings.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, the major prerequisites of 5G and the emerging transport solutions would help operators position themselves to successfully capitalize on the new revenue opportunities from delivering differentiated 5G connectivity services.

5G Transport Network Market Development

"The rise of the telco data center has a high degree of confluence with the requirements of SA 5G architectures. SA 5G and its increasing reliance on telco data centers can be attributed to the increasing convergence of cloud computing and traditional network architectures," said Miguel Castaneda, industry analyst at ABI Research.

Telco data centers leverage a combination of cloud computing service delivery principles such as Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs), Service-Based Architectures (SBAs), and microservices to provide 5G network services to consumers and enterprises.

Telco data centers can be categorized based on their geographic proximity to end-users and capabilities in which they can support specific network functions.

Some data centers are well-equipped to support critical latency-centric network functions while other data centers are more suited to support non-critical workloads such as billing applications and other OSS/BSS functions.

There are other considerations such as size and power constraints that also distinguish telco data center deployments -- from large hyperscale, regional data centers to smaller edge cloud deployments.

According to the ABI assessment, the expanding pervasiveness of data centers would require modern transport solutions to deliver the features necessary within differentiated connectivity of 5G services.

These features include support for network slicing; Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture in Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) deployments; and advanced analytics, orchestration, synchronization, and automation capabilities to ensure service delivery across multiple domains of densly distributed 5G networks.

5G transport solutions must be streamlined to the context of 5G network workloads and the different telco data center considerations while also helping operators in being cost-efficient with their data center and network transport buildout.

Outlook for 5G Transport Network Application Growth

"Modern transport solutions would need to possess physical or logical capabilities such as Segment Routing-Multi-Protocol Label Switching (SR-MPLS), support for multiple traffic types through channelized Ethernet solutions, and edge-optimized hardware, such as coherent Digital Signal Processing (DSP) modules that have lower data center footprints," Castaneda concludes.

I anticipate the demand for key 5G infrastructure developments -- such as optimized 'any-haul' transport networks  -- will continue through the remainder of 2021 and into next year. That said, telecom and IT vendors will have an opportunity to guide and help service providers optimize their new 5G related investments.

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