• Raghu

CSPs RFI/RFP Process an overkill?

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

In the last two years, 3GPP has been tirelessly working to standardize every aspect of 5G core network. With Release 16 now frozen, it seems like a lot has been achieved. With the CSPs increasingly working to tidy up their 5G strategy, many challenges remain for the actual implementation of the 5G network.

5G Radio deals, that eat up the majority of the CapEx budget, still have limited players and are a highly concentrated market. The major telecom vendors continue to focus on accelerating 5G radio deployment and in some sense, safeguarding this golden goose. Quoting here -

Moving away from the vendor-specific RAN paradigm not only enables more flexibility for operators, it also minimizes the “secret sauce” that leaves them reliant on a single vendor for all aspects of RAN implementation and optimization. - Source: 5g-networks.net

It is not surprising then that 5G core is in comparison, thrown at CSPs as a freebee. This would have been extremely lucrative because the support and after-sales revenue these nodes generated keep the top line ticking for these big telecom vendors. But with SBI and commoditization of 5G core, comes a new set of challenges that the CSPs are starting to realize. Free software is the worst thing that can happen to a CSP in this era of cloud-native infrastructure because now a CSP is modifying a car to fit a seat.

RFP/RFI process that worked for previous network evolution cycles seem to become redundant as the barrier to entry and access to expertise has evaporated. Most CSPs are ending up evaluating vendors on the basis of current LTE network feature and functionality which, to say the least, is ridiculous. The CSPs are spending top dollars on vendor evaluation of 3GPP functioning instead of focusing energies on use cases that will ensure CSPs profitability.

At Catenna, we propose changing CSPs ways and stop spending half a year in vendor evaluation. For CSPs, it is now time to switch gears and focus on non-standardized parts. Identify the environment that CSPs would want these NFs to be hosted. Work on ensuring connectivity, latency, site designs, and use cases that they would deliver to their customers. Vendor evaluation has to then be about inviting the prospective applicants into the deployment environment for verification and validation. If all vendors are following 3GPP, this should work like a charm. CSPs can then choose based on the performance (and in this case, the actual performance of NFs and vendors' willingness to invest in the engagement) to shortlist and get on with pricing negotiations.

Sounds too simple? Talk to us and we can help you get this going.

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