Digital Transformation News

Helping telcos succeed in the era of 6G, AI and beyond

Antonio Neri

It is great to be back at Mobile World Congress 2024. It has been a pleasure to meet with valued customers and partners from across the telco and networking industries as part of HPE’s continued, long-standing commitment to these markets.

As I met with customers and partners, I heard similar themes from years past: telecoms operators are still looking for the latest technology to reduce the cost to operate their network, and they are looking for new revenue streams to monetize their investments in 5G. With more than 300 telco customers across 160 countries, HPE is keenly invested in helping our customers achieve both these objectives.

We believe three inflection points are converging that position telcos to make significant advancements against these goals:

  1. Networks are modernizing
  2. Networking technologies are converging
  3. AI will be the “killer app”

Modernizing the network

The first step to profitability and reducing operational cost is to modernize the network, shifting from previous generation models built on proprietary systems to open, automated cloud-native platforms. Standards for 5G were designed to enable operators to adopt these platforms with the promise of deploying new, innovative 5G-based offerings, faster. An efficient, cloud-native network will give operators the ability to upsell high margin services such as private 5G connectivity. It will also give operators the opportunity to move beyond connectivity, and transition to an AI-native network to address the emergence of AI inferencing at the edge.

“HPE has been driving innovation from edge to cloud by collaborating with customers and partners to build open solutions that deliver efficiency, reduce risk and complexity, and futureproof the network across the telco core, radio access network (RAN) and edge.”

Antonio Neri, President and CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE has been driving innovation from edge to cloud by collaborating with customers and partners to build open solutions that deliver efficiency, reduce risk and complexity, and futureproof the network across the telco core, radio access network (RAN) and edge.

Achieving greater levels of efficiency across all levels of the network is crucial for telcos to improve their profitability. Our new HPE Telco Core Automation software, announced last week, uses the latest AI to enhance operational efficiency and responsiveness.

Following our planned acquisition of Juniper Networks, our objective will be to address customer challenges even better by integrating two of the most innovative and proficient organizations in the networking industry. The Juniper and HPE portfolios are complementary, and together we will have the opportunity to accelerate our innovation in the telco market and our customers’ ability to modernize their network.

There will be opportunities to improve automation and orchestration and add support for more virtualized network functions into our open RAN, and OSS (Operational Support Systems) portfolio. There will also be new ways to leverage AIOps in network orchestration, allowing telcos to virtualize and scale their infrastructure to provide new services, and reduce operational costs.

Networks converging

Ultimately, networking technologies are converging. Customers and end-users require universal connectivity, with speed, security, and capabilities, no matter where they are.

At MWC last year, we announced our acquisition of Athonet to establish HPE with one of the most complete private 5G and Wi-Fi portfolios. HPE has integrated Athonet into our portfolio and continued its trajectory as a global leader in private 5G solutions, enhancing our ability to deliver a comprehensive set of solutions that meet customers’ complex connectivity needs.

I am excited for what we can achieve as we continue to incorporate Athonet’s technology with our HPE Aruba Networking portfolio, and in the future with Juniper. I am confident that it will become the norm for Wi-Fi and private 5G to be deployed together and managed through a single pane of glass.

There is no doubt in my mind that networking technologies will converge and HPE has a unique role to play in helping telcos succeed in the 6G era and beyond. It will drive toward a future where all spectrum is managed transparently, through sets of different technologies that can preserve quality of service for mission-critical activities.

AI will enable new revenue streams

It has been said for years that the true benefits of 5G lie with businesses rather than consumers. So far, few have made good on this prediction.

Edge computing services offered via the 5G network have previously been talked up as new revenue streams for telco operators, but a “killer application” never came along. AI may be that “killer app.” AI will be the most compute and network-intensive application of this era and could finally see telecoms operators cash in on their 5G investments.

Many of the business cases for AI inferencing at the edge will require a dedicated network and computing power to inference data closest to the end user or device effectively. Taking all the data back to the cloud is not economical, and latency becomes a performance issue. Telco operators, with their distributed data center estate, are well positioned to offer a more competitive solution compared to hyperscale cloud providers.

HPE and Juniper have a unique portfolio to bridge these opportunities together with our telco and enterprise network offerings, including a full data center stack for AI inferencing and training, innovative AIOps technology, and a wide range of hybrid cloud services. Our combined portfolio mixed with our expertise is a game changer.

The hype around AI is real. It will be an unprecedented technology shift and we are making bold moves to capture the market transition in networking.

Looking forward

While I’ve spent some time at MWC discussing the exciting possibilities that may lie ahead for HPE once the proposed acquisition of Juniper Networks is complete, this deal is not due to close for many months. Until then, we will remain two separate companies, both with our own distinct strategy to support our telco customers.

In the meantime, it is clear to me that the technology landscape is changing. Telco operators need trusted partners to navigate these changes and help them grow their business. I believe HPE will become a new market leader in networking with an unmatched portfolio of both AI-native and cloud-native solutions that will help our customers capitalize on the market transition that is coming from AI.

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