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Contending With 5G

Networks are becoming more complex, and demands more extreme. Trends like an increasingly mobile workforce, the Internet of Things, and the prevalence of cloud-based applications and services are making it difficult for network managers to know what is going on within their internal data center networks, let alone wide area infrastructure. This requires advanced monitoring systems that offer deep visibility into all packets in a given network. Also, the advent of software-defined architectures and scale-out cloud and IoT infrastructure, as well as the speed at which workflows and virtual network deployments take place, makes it imperative that organizations adopt increasingly intelligent management stacks. One of the best things about intelligent networking is that even though it represents a paradigm shift in IT management, it can be implemented on legacy infrastructure relatively easily. It has the capacity to change processes on a more fundamental level going forward, all while adapting to new topologies, new service requirements, and new business models.

As we prepare to enter into an entirely new age of digital communications with 5G, the flood of data to and from 5G connected devices is bound to hit the enterprise in one form or another. 5G is not positioned to supplement or augment existing network services, but to replace them step by step. In this way, it is likely to produce entirely new services, markets, and value chains even as it lowers costs and extends connectivity to a wider range of products. Over the next couple of years, as the enterprise contend with digital transformation, hyperconverged infrastructure, hybrid clouds, and SDN, 5G gets added to the list of challenges.

The dynamics of business at the service provider end remains unusual. Once investment in spectrum and infrastructure is made, and subscription and revenues grow, steady cash flows do not automatically follow. The performance results in the AMJ quarter showing lower ARPUs, falling revenues, and negative cash flows for all the incumbents, while the CapEx ratio has increased to 30 percent against the average of 15–20 percent in the past. Is it any surprise that they are turning to their respective B2B arms for growth and looking at overseas operations, as Africa for Airtel, to bail them out?

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