BIG 5G EVENT, DENVER, US: A panel of technical experts outlined reasons non-traditional vendors are expected to gain a foothold in 5G core networks, naming security, adaptability and pricing models as key reasons for the shift.

Gabriel Sidhom, COO at Orange Silicon Valley, explained operators want the ability to scale networks up and down by adding and subtracting new hardware as needed.

He noted operators have traditionally scaled “vertically”, meaning they have grown network capacity by investing in upgrades to existing hardware. “The margin pressure all telcos have been facing is leading us to look at solutions that are more elastic”.

“We all saw the revolution in IT and it kind of was the prerequisite for the revolution we’re seeing in telco right now”.

Sidhom forecast “more of a software-based pricing model” for core networks, but warned this will bring “complexities” as operators licence different network components from various vendors.

Atila Leao Flores Xavier, architecture and technology innovation director at TIM Brasil, believes operators understand the importance of cloud-native software and “the new kids on the block are bringing that to the table”.

Brian Barritt, engineering manager for Magma at Facebook Connectivity, named security as a key motivator for a move to open source software in 5G core networks.

He noted the US Department of Defence is interested in 5G networks which incorporate security into the development process rather than adding it to products already created.

Barritt also cited the transparency of open source software as a key contributor to secure networks.

Boingo Wireless CTO Derek Peterson highlighted non-traditional vendors are prepared to develop networks which address 5G use cases. “We are able to build solutions that actually fit the use cases, instead of trying to make the solutions we have fit”.