Network Exposure – establishing the “why” of 5G

June 16, 2021 - David Hovey

Expanding the Service Provider Offering via 5G NEF (Network Exposure Function)

It has been said that “a problem halved is a problem shared” – no doubt we all feel this at regular intervals in our lives. Putting heads and resources together can generate solutions – or outcomes to our problems – that go far and beyond what we could possibly achieve alone.

Likewise, when it comes to figuring out how best to resolve the challenges of delivering outstanding business outcomes – there is no question that the same expression maintains its eternal truth and relevance. Combining and intricately meshing together the products, services, solutions and intellectual property of two or more organisations can produce truly transformational results that do actually make possible the famous {1+1 = 3} mathematical magic.

With approximately 1/6th of the world’s mobile operators having launched “non-standalone” 5G New Radio on their 4G networks, this 5G market momentum now evolves to include the network core transformation. This new “Standalone” 5G Core network (5GC) is a true industry inflection point in its own right – with many step changes and Internet-influenced achievements that are distinct from previous generational changes in the mobile industry.

Not only is Cloud Native architecture in its truest form now available within the 5GC to maximise efficiencies and create technological advantage, but the very form and function of the architecture itself lends itself perfectly to agility and innovation. No longer are we constrained with “one network for all”, we now have the option to make business advantage of an “intent-based network for each and every one”. This foundational principle is at the heart of what can move us beyond today’s closed and insular networks & industry business models that have been with us since 1G. The “platform effect” is not just for others, it can also be for the mobile industry.

The opportunity now open to operators is to truly move on from the existing linear business models which are mostly defined within today’s massive established base of B2C consumer business. The understanding that 5G can ”change the future” raises practical questions regarding “how” and “what” needs to happen in order to truly leverage these “potentials” of 5G. Which services, devices, content, partners segments and sub-segments should be prioritised? Which services should be created and managed end-to-end within the operator, and which are best suited to be delivered by partners or ecosystems, and in the latter case to what extent? Which services are most valuable and relevant for a particular market context?

Responses to such questions don’t have to be painstakingly answered. Decisions on potential market strategies do not need to be binary or “all or nothing”. Service providers that plan consciously and execute technology strategy effectively are able to leverage the huge range of new capabilities embedded in 5G Standalone itself whilst leveraging partners, ecosystems and channels where necessary.

With the 5G Network Exposure Function, service providers can view their networks as a platform asset that empowers an infinitely expandable service portfolio – no matter which combination of relationships the services are delivered through.

Rather than being reconciled (again) to playing the role of a basic transport network, 5G with the value-add of NEF is able to become a magnetic, accessible, programmable and integral part of partner and ecosystem service environments. It also becomes a high value part of Cloud player catalogs, and directly resolves enterprise business requirements through operator marketplaces. This is the magic of 5G indeed.


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