How can service providers optimize their networks? What does the future of broadband look like, and how can we prepare for what's next? These questions were at the center of discussions as experts gathered in Philadelphia during SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2022 – where Incognito's Director of Product Management, Jeevithan Muttu, met up with Omdia's Principal Analyst, Jaimie Lenderman, to talk about the importance of centralized network automation, the connected home, and how service providers can achieve a more efficient, customer-centric network.
Together, they shared some insightful thoughts about the current state of the industry and where it's headed. Here are a few highlights from their conversation:
Question: How is Incognito helping with the transition and acceleration to next-generation fiber and 5G networks?
Jeevithan Muttu: When it comes to accelerating the transition to next-gen fiber, as well as 5G networks there are multiple things that need to be considered.
- From an OSS standpoint what we see is that there's a greater need for automation, and automation around new services and management of new services and this is across multiple network technologies.
- What we see is that the service providers need to centralize their operations, taking advantage of multi-vendor environments, and having solutions tapping into closed-loop automation so that they are able to troubleshoot issues ahead of time and be able to use closed-loop processes to automatically resolve issues as well.
- It would also require having an aggregated view of your network and all the devices using closed-loop automation, root cause analysis, in order to achieve some of those things.
Q: What are the key points that service providers need to focus on to deliver a more customer-centric automated network?
JM: The industry has achieved remarkable results when it comes to delivering high bit rates to the premises. What we see today is service providers shifting their focus toward broadband performance and quality. To achieve that what is important is:
- To be able to have a real-time comprehensive view of the network-wide performance.
- Having insights into the subscriber's experience – the key here is the consistent subscriber experience, so not just the size of the pipe but also the consistency with which you're able to deliver the services, so latency comes into the picture as well.
- In terms of automated networks, it's important to focus on alarm monitoring and fault management so that service providers are able to identify when and where an issue happens and use automation and closed-loop processes to resolve issues.
- It's about multi-vendor environments. Today we see multi-vendor environments as the norm. Picking an OSS solution that thrives in a multi-vendor environment, so that you're able to cut down your provisioning, onboarding, and deployment times as well, so those are key things when it comes to building an automated, customer-centric network.
Q: How has the pandemic affected service providers and the challenges they face in monetizing their networks during this time and afterward?
JM: Prior to the pandemic, there was a lot of emphasis on reaching ever-higher speeds but post-pandemic our ultra-connected, always-on lifestyle demands so much more. So, the QoE can no longer be ignored. What we see is the subscribers expect an impeccable QoE on all their devices at all times. The silver lining here is that this brings up new opportunities for operators to monetize the network. We see a new focus from the operator side to offer superior QoS and also higher ARPU-generating services as well. Service providers need to be able to tap into the next-gen connected home, so this is about offering smart home services, whether that is Wi-Fi optimization, better management of connected devices, and so on. And lastly the proactive aspect, so being able to proactively monitor the QoE is also crucial for service providers.
Q: So, what are some of the key drivers that you're seeing for network performance as well as extending the life of DOCSIS technology?
JM: There are a number of things happening on the DOCSIS front.
- We see an increased demand for MAP-T, on IPv6 DHCP configuration. It's a lower-cost alternative to CGNAT. MAP-T enables operators to extend the life of IPv4, and the investment in IPv4, while it prepares them to deploy IPv6 at large scale. In contrast to CGNAT, which is more hardware intensive, MAP-T offers stateless translation of IPv6 for address spaces and is much more cost-effective.
- The second one is DOCSIS 4.0 and its support for 10G and low-latency services which are crucial for gaming applications as well as enterprise applications.
- Thirdly it's about distributed access architecture. There are a number of different options available from an Incognito product perspective. We do support different options.
- Finally, the prevention of theft of service and increased security. This is something that we continue to see a lot of attention being paid to and we have services/solutions that address this market as well.
Q: Over the past few years, we've seen growth in the number of in-home services and in-home networks – how is Incognito using open standards to create value-added services?
JM: The industry standards and open frameworks like TR-369 are vital to the success of service providers because they cut down on technical barriers and they enable their teams to develop value-added services that their customers demand. I would say Incognito is on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to TR-369 adoption working with our leading operator customers and industry groups as well as the device vendor community. In fact, we won a number of awards for Digital Experience Solution, which is a unified platform that combines both TR-369 as well as TR-069 for device management, device provisioning, and telemetry collection from devices.
In terms of the smart home services, we actually partner with a number of application providers and device vendors, enabling service providers to offer smart home services such as tailored networks for in-home – tailored network means you're able to prioritize the in-home Wi-Fi for work from home users or for users that are more into gaming applications. You can have end-to-end in-home network security applications. So, the sky is the limit when it comes to the different types of smart home services that you could offer and we're very proud to say that we have an award-winning solution that is able to help service providers.
Watch the full-length interview below: