In a market approaching 5.7 billion mobile subscriptions in 2021, broadband can sometimes feel to play second fiddle in Asia & Oceania (Omdia). However, 670 million broadband subscriptions are nothing to be sniffed at – especially in a region with hundreds of millions more underserved or unserved at all.

The global pandemic only exacerbated the need for high-quality fixed broadband services. For consumers, this was driven by the need to access digital healthcare, education, and entertainment services – in 2020 alone Omdia calculates Asia and Oceania OTT video subscriptions rose by 22 percent to more than 550 million. For service providers, the massive rise in this video and digital content traffic means they need more scalable broadband networks to deliver the best broadband services and to better supplement mobile networks which are also under strain from rises in data-intensive video and digital services. Operators also need their infrastructure deployments to be more cost-efficient to connect the millions still to be connected in the Asia & Oceania region.

The Asia & Oceania broadband subscribers are generally concentrated in high broadband penetration markets like China, Japan, & South Korea, but there is plenty of potential in low penetration countries like India & Indonesia with broadband penetration rates below 20%.

This pressure on operators to build out and improve the operations of their broadband networks comes at a time when they are moving towards distributed and cloud-native network architectures, as part of the latest iteration of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). The development of these technologies was originally focused on core network functions, but are now becoming more common closer to the edge.

One such development is in Broadband Network Gateways (BNGs). Traditionally BNGs have been hardware-centric solutions, appliances with tightly coupled hardware and software. If operators needed to scale a deployment they would deploy more BNG appliances. To keep up with anticipated demand this model necessitates service providers to plan and deploy BNG nodes months or years in advance of expected demand.

Cloud-native BNG solutions promise to change these cost dynamics in two key ways:

  •  Disaggregation of hardware from software
    • Provided operators have the deployed hardware infrastructure in place they can spin up BNG software licenses as required to meet demand, reducing upfront investment costs, and time to revenue for BNG solutions.
    • There is the potential to re-purpose existing BNG hardware appliances or use commoditized hardware to maximize existing BNG investments, rather than having to rip & replace all existing hardware.
  • Implementation of Control /User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture
    • This allows operators to simplify BNG configuration by only configuring a handful of BNG control plane nodes to manage the potentially 100s of BNG user plane BNG nodes that make up the network.
    • This leads to greater levels of network automation, supporting streamlined OPEX, and greater levels of network optimization to provide a better quality of service for end-users.

Figure 2 shows an example of what a cloud-native BNG solution deployment could look like. From these changes in cost dynamics, Omdia believe there is scope for total cost of ownership (TCO) savings vs traditional deployment models in the region of 10-30% over a five-year period.

 

Figure 2. Example of distributed deployment and a cloud-native BNG stack

To achieve these savings operators do need to prioritize investment in supporting skillsets to manage and automate cloud-native BNG solutions. These investments will in time make a clear difference to the deployments themselves and the wider business as operators look to orchestrate and automate cloud-native network solutions across network domains. Telenor is an example of an operator who is beginning to reap the benefits of broad skillset and organizational investment in the context of their network transformations. In 2019 Telenor reskilled approximately 6.4% of its employees, investing in virtualization, cloud, automation, and other adjacent technical skillsets. This supported an OpEx decrease of 7% YoY on a constant currency basis in 2020 (excluding figures from Telenor’s acquisition of Finland’s DNA).

The Omdia “Evolution of the BNG in Asia and Oceania” white paper focuses on the changing nature of BNG solutions and what they mean for operator cost models and the ability to develop services to support new revenue streams. Visit Cisco Cloud Native Broadband Gateway site for more information or download the whitepaper here.

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