Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 5GaaS (5G-as-a-Service)
Reporting period: 2020-10-01 to 2021-12-31
The 5GaaS marketplace connects supply and demand, allowing different stakeholders in the telecom sector (including government, consumers and providers of telecom products and services) to collaborate and conduct business in harmony under transparent multilateral business agreements, enabled by a customisable system of smart contracts. This system becomes the anchor for a decentralised 5G and edge marketplace, allowing stakeholders to determine their pricing in the offers registered freely and based on customised governance rules in the form of pay-as-you-go, subscription-based or one-time payments.
5GaaS builds on mature commercial products and outputs from H2020 projects (mostly 5GCity) that have been widely tested and deployed in several solutions to create the basis of its architectural design, namely 1) dRAX™, a vRAN solution for the neutral hosting platform and 2) the Smartlamppost platform, a unified web marketplace for digital infrastructure and multi-purpose sites.
The following list summarises the main objectives for the project:
OBJ-1. Demonstration of 5GaaS in at least 5 different European cities, targeting a total of 25 sites, by repurposing existing infrastructure and installing new smart and connected urban furniture with built-in telco equipment.
OBJ-2. 5GaaS Joint Venture creation
OBJ-3. Acquisition of 5 different prospective customers
OBJ-4. 3 new city pilots in the pipeline
OBJ-5. 500 5G sites available on the platform.
● Distribution of pre-financing budget from Project Coordinator to the rest of the Consortium.
● Several technical discussions took place in virtual meetings, with the outcome captured in the initial high-level architecture of the 5GaaS system. This architecture includes its Application, Business, Networking and Cloud-Edge, and Infrastructure layers.
● The consortium has been particularly focused on the definition of the marketplace and its interaction with the management components for the provisioning, sharing and configuration of 5G Core Network, RAN, and edge/cloud resources in 5G network slices.
● The consortium completed the development of 5GaaS Open RAN (3GPP Release-15 Standalone with O-RAN Alliance extensions) network functions in WP2 to support and prepare the pilots.
● The 5GaaS team scouted and reviewed State-of-the-Art open-source solutions to be adopted and extended in the project, including network slicing solutions, orchestrators, edge/cloud management platforms, RAN controllers. A preliminary selection of the software baseline has been performed, identifying the components to be deployed for the first release of the 5GaaS platform and the required enhancements to meet the architecture requirements.
● Activities related to the project’s planning and execution took place, which resulted in project management guidelines, risk analysis, initial communication plan and data management plan.
● Market research on the current telecommunication ecosystem around the rollout of 5G, private networks and spectrum availability.
● We submitted fifteen (15) deliverables: D1.1 D1.2 D1.3 D1.4 D1.7 D2.1 D2.3 D3.1 D3.2 D4.1 D4.2 D5.1 D5.4 D6.1 and D6.2.
● The 5G-as-a-Service website has been made available at https://5gaas.eu/ and the team created social media accounts to disseminate its content further.
The inclusion of the neutral hosting model is a central point of the architecture, which ultimately enables resource sharing, greater flexibility and cost-saving for service providers and consumers. It allows meeting the goal of 5GaaS of offering a platform that fulfils business needs and contributes to environmental recovery.
The innovative 5G use cases and novel applications require a 5G Standalone deployment, alongside more distributed infrastructure such as edge servers yet to be rolled out to host local applications/data closer to the user terminal. For 5G to be more than “4G plus” requires a higher density of antennas than 4G. This requirement means an increased investment to upgrade existing sites and build new ones.
Additionally, the digital divide and the commitments the different governments attach to the spectrum also pressure their business development. MNOs need to deleverage before making further investments. Most of the companies in the sector have significant debt on their balance sheets, with the high competition among MNOs hindering substantial revenue increases. The battle for low-cost services has led operators to achieve very-low Average Revenue Per User (ARPUs) for the sole purpose of customer retention. Another critical element in the deployment of 5G is the radio spectrum, and the first investment carried out by operators, which has not been inexpensive, complicating the balance to have the Return of Investment (RoI) the market is imposing on the companies of this ecosystem.
Summing up, multimillion-dollar investments in spectrum and infrastructures, falling retail revenues, the tendency of users looking for low-cost contracts and the ramping competition make MNOs reluctant to invest in the deployment of 5G without any clarity on the actual path for monetisation. These challenges need to be overcome for MNOs to see 5G as a genuine business opportunity.
Several of the innovative pillars of the 5GaaS marketplace, such as the service orchestration capabilities and the Blockchain-based smart contracts, require fundamental changes in not only the systems mentioned above and network architectures but also in the adoption of novel ways to conduct business and new business models, in particular using Distributed Ledger Technology, technology still under development and in a very young state.
The 5GaaS consortium remains focused on developing this novel e-commerce platform while analysing and assessing the market taste for such a product, particularly with MNOs that are very reluctant or cautious regarding the next steps towards 5G investments.