2023 Telecom Software Summary and 2024 Outlook on Automation

Software continues to eat the telecom sector, having major effects on all aspects of the business, network technology, and operations.

Key Trends in 2023

  • Network automation reached a milestone with an early majority of CSPs now buying into the TM Forum’s Autonomous Networks vision.
  • ChatGPT and its rivals demonstrated the power of Large Language Model generative AI/ML systems for transforming human/machine interfaces and providing intelligent assistance to humans.
  • Disaggregation continued its slow move into the equipment market with O-RAN slowly making progress. But other areas like distributed BNG are quickly, although quietly, gaining market share, but not multivendor assemblages!
  • Cloud-based BSS and OSS are making steady progress, although hybrid models, where the customer information stays on the private cloud, are still preferred in most areas.
  • CI/CD processes for software deployment, formerly resisted, are being put into production. This is allowing CSPs to move much more quickly to modernize their OSSs and BSSs.

What to Look Forward to in 2024

  • Major CSPs will announce their push to Autonomous Networks with credible plans to achieve Level 4 autonomy in the next couple of years. They will initiate projects to do that. Vendors will have to tell their clients how they will help them do it.
  • LLMs will quickly transform the way that technicians interact with the network, with the OSSs and BSSs, and with the clients. They will become the interface to retrieve: real-time information on the network and services, user manuals on network equipment, standard O&M procedures, and other information. And beyond retrieval, they will also suggest to the technicians what the next step in a process should be.
  • Slicing will move from the POC stage, where it has been stuck for several years, into production, requiring “slicing managers” with the full range of PAID functions (provisioning, assurance, inventory, and design).
  • CSPs will move investment money from the BSS sector into the OSS sector to pay for upgrades to inventory and service assurance systems to support the increasingly cloudified networks.
  • BSS systems will continue to become less telecom-specific, with cross-industry platforms becoming the norm in most areas.
  • CSPs will begin to plan for major enhancements to their overall network and service operations at the highest level, with NOCs and SOCs taking on new roles and becoming more integrated and automated.
  • Network as a Service will take center stage in the enterprise sector, built on the new standards, providing much easier ordering and management of connectivity services.

Contact Mark Mortenen (mmortensen@acgcc.com).

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