Policy hits the big time

Policy shifted in the move from 4G to 5G to offer a mature feature upgraded to the current needs of enterprises. Granting businesses more capabilities in the control and management of their networks across the complexities of 4G and 5G landscapes.

Michael Leahy, Director of Product Management

Amdocs Networks

12 Jul 2022

Policy hits the big time

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Policy shifted in the move from 4G to 5G to offer a mature feature upgraded to the current needs of enterprises. Granting businesses more capabilities in the control and management of their networks across the complexities of 4G and 5G landscapes.

Vodafone IoT has connected over 140 million devices to date, according to Phil Skipper. The difference between today and a few years ago is that back then things were mostly about smartphones tackling the latency and the control that 5G can now provide is becoming increasingly nuanced. This means that enterprises can avail of the SLA expectations that are needed for their range of devices to meet businesses’ objectives pertaining to connectivity and efficiency.

Converged 5G Policy has an increasing role to provide the win-win handshaking of service definition and network resources down to the requirements of applications for the many new Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are coming. These devices will come in many forms - from cars to factory robots and VR/AR wearables – and will continue to transit across the combined complexities of 4G and 5G landscapes.

For some enterprises, this new 5G capability will be consumed at a private enterprise level – where enterprises such as manufacturers can have a whole network to themselves. This can include their own policy control to define services and manage priorities and capacities in their own Cloud or “edge”. For others, this could be achieved via more centralized slice control – managed on their behalf more directly by an operator or operator partner. For others, it will still require access via exposed APIs that allow them to avail, ice-cream style, of whatever flavors i.e. features of 5G are their preference. These enterprise control options are not mutually exclusive. In many cases it could be all of the above, so to speak. As such, it is conceivable that a motor manufacturer with its own private network in its factories adds slice-based or exposed services for customers to avail of services within its own finished (B2C) product.

The role of policy has changed immensely – especially in relation to the combined 4G/5G radio complexity. Those new devices and the increasing requirements of enterprises are drivers themselves, but the broader context has also changed. Cloud is now a primary driver of how services are established and evolved, and policy must now “talk” to a wider array of other Cloud-based 5G functions. These other functions include the network analytics function, to drive new, intelligent, and fully automated use cases. Beyond users adjusting policies themselves, the “closed loop” or fully autonomous network is now becoming a reality.

5G has more opportunity as well as complexity so it needs more planning, feature definition and usability. 5G Policy will be a driver and focal point and no wonder that we and some of our customers have been describing 5G Policy as “the brains of the (5G) operation”. It needed to be built again from the ground up using the latest in microservices for whatever hybrid or multi-cloud environment service providers needed.

As we move from 5G Release 16 to 17, standards keep us busy, but we know they are not enough for operator businesses to prioritize and differentiate themselves.  Non-functional aspects such as operability by business teams, flexibility, updatability, CI/CD as well as DevOps capability, and hybrid cloud experiences are coming to the fore and driving real value via the 5G Policy as top-tier operators prioritize it in their 5G rollouts.

5G cannot survive in a vacuum and said top operators understand that. The need to consider a more tightly interwoven 4G, Wi-Fi, and satellite combo for the array of service requirements - in particular, the enterprise requirements that are to come. The policy will have a key role to play in that landscape.

Of course, even more important will be the ongoing, tight interworking with those other 5G functions, especially Charging as well as all the IT wrapping you can imagine. All the amazing services to come will need to be monetized at some point.  This may be slightly biased – but is rooted in experience: without a more finely managed “brain” (i.e., policy) and set of controls, 5G could be like the leaky bucket that 4G often became. One dares to dream otherwise.

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