Paradigm Changes: Network Infrastructure II

The decoupling of services from Network is a reality. It started 20 years ago and now has reached a point where services are being designed and deployed outside of the network.

2. Network and Services Decoupling

Digitalisation and Internet killed this coupling of network and services. Today most telecommunications services we are using are not provided by the Telecom Operator - Network Owner.

Think about accessing information on the web. You might be using Google or DuckDuckGo to search for information, you might be using an App (like Weather Channel), you might be retrieving data from a Cloud Storage provider, you might peer with a sensor or your computer at home, you might get it from an information buoy that a Municipality has set up or from the plane you are flying in. Many ways of doing this and no-one is requiring a Telecom Operator (apart from the connectivity -and even this does not require a specific Operator and sometimes you don’t require an Operator at all, since connectivity is local).

This has been an amazing change of paradigm, surely felt by Telecom Operators (that have been crying wolf and tried to stop this from happening) but probably unnoticed by the end customer that tended to equate this new experience with the “smartness” of the terminal.

And yet, this change of paradigm is threatening the economical well being of Telecom Operator that have been forced to clam on their network infrastructure (still a milk cow) and to abandon the service business and this in spite of the effort to offer Value Added Services. The paradigm change has been brought forward by the lower cost of providing services, a cost so low that Telecom Operators could not afford it! (because of their intrinsically high cost, making them not competitive).

Notice that Telecom Operators, back in the 80ies and in the 90ies put significant effort in looking for ways to decouple the services (their services) from the network. A first example was the Intelligent network, then the work of TINA - Telecommunications Infrastructure Networking Architecture. The aim was to reduce the cost of service deployment and make a more flexible use of network resources.
The problem was that this decoupling was attempted from within the network increasing the complexity of the network itself (and of the protocols that made service centres talk to network centres - exchanges). The decoupling we are seeing today was achieved independently of the network. There eis no communications between network resources and service centres, these latter operates “over the top”. True, this approach doesn’t leverage the best from network resources, is often inefficient but … it works.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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