Omdia’s Sameer Malik on why a Net5.5G converged IP network is essential to bring the benefits of AI to consumers  


At this years’ Huawei Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, China, Total Telecom sat down with Sameer Malik, Senior Principal Analyst at Omdia, to discuss Net5.5G converged IP networks

Now based in Sydney, Malik has over 20 years’ experience in the telecoms industry. He joined Omdia in 2021 after having leadership roles at Huawei and Etisalat. In 2020, he was recognised as Distinguished Technical Talent by the Australian government. 

Sameer Malik, Senior Principal Analyst at Omdia

What is Net5.5G and why is it important? 

Many new applications brought to consumers and businesses by AI and other data hungry technologies will exceed the capacity of current networks.  

“AI is changing the whole world,” says Malik. “But without the readiness of the network, you can’t achieve it.”   

He also notes the current challenges operators face when it comes to service differentiation.  

“For example, we need extended reality (XR) services, cloud shopping, and digital smelling… there are lots of emerging applications.” says Malik. In order to bring these to the consumer, bandwidth needs to be high, scalability needs to be possible, and the service needs to be stable and reliable, and this can only be achieved though network modernisation. 

Unlike wireless networks, however, fixed networks do not have a standardised evolutionary path. Net5.5G, therefore, is conceptualised as the next step in end-to-end modernisation of the IP network. 

What are the features of Net5.5G Converged IP Network? 

There are four key areas in which the Net5.5G network architecture upgrade will focus. 

4 types of 10Gbps connection: The network (mobile broadband, home broadband, enterprise campus, and enterprise private lines) should be upgraded to 10Gbps connections to support new use cases. This can be leveraged to bring the applications to the end user.
Metro and core networks: The Net5.5G converged IP transport network should be upgraded to 400GE from metro aggregation to the core networks. And provide Slicing/SRv6 as a service to monetize user experience.
DCN (data centre network): Net5.5G recommends that the DCN be upgraded to hyper-converged 400GE to achieve optimal total cost of ownership (TCO) and network scale load balance.
End to end network management, to enhance the user experience: The Net5.5G network will be AI-enabled with Network Digital Map span access, allowing it to be more predictive in operations and maintenance, and proactively handling all traffic and services.

Thus, for the Key Features of Net5.5G Converged IP Network:  

E2E 400GE Full-Service Converged IP Transport, achieving optimal TCO 
Slicing/SRv6 as a service, monetizing user experience 
Network Digital Map, improving network stability, quality, and O&M efficiency

What enhancements can AI bring to the network? 

From a network perspective, AI has the possibility to bring huge impact, when the models are trained properly. 

Malik discusses this from the “operation and maintenance perspective”, giving the example of end-to-end digital mapping. Here, this can be used to “visualise your services to be more predictive in your operation and maintenance and then proactively handle all the traffic and services. For example, if customers are having a service deterioration in the network, AI can predict based on the real-time learning … and troubleshoot the services proactively.” 


Are the features of the Net5.5G converged IP network in line with the existing strategies for carriers? 

For Malik, a major issue with operators’ existing approach to the fixed network is that modernisation is often carried out piecemeal, without a unified strategy.  

“I think service providers or carriers need to formalise their strategy for their fixed network modernisation,” said Malik, noting that the whole network needs to be modernised, from the access metro core to the DCN. 

“The unfortunate part is that they only modernise whenever they need it,” he explained, which “can cost them big amounts of money”. 

So, it’s unwise to modernise the network in parts. The network must be ready to “cater to the new services” that the developments in AI will bring. It needs to be fully “resilient, scalable and flexible,” says Malik. “So, for service providers, my suggestion is to strategize their fixed network modernisation, step by step,” he proposes. 

Malik envisions a unified evolutionary pathway more in-line with the generational shifts that exist in wireless, with 4G moving to LTE moving to 5G/5G-A, etc. To achieve this, however, the industry will need to collaborate more closely on what the next generation of fixed networks will look like.   

“This isn’t the job of one service provider,” says Malik. The whole industry needs to “sit together and work in association… they have to work strategically to strategize the evolution path for the fixed network.” 


What new opportunities will Net5.5G Converged IP Network will bring to carriers and how can they use those new opportunities to create growth? 

Underscoring all of this discussion about network modernisation is the topic of monetisation. The bottom line, as Malik explains, is that “there’s no point in modernising your network if you don’t have any return on investments”. 

However, once the network is modernised, monetizing it will become much more possible.  

The word monetisation is thrown around so much, but it is at the centre of everything. Malik gives the example of network slicing: “facing BtoB service, carriers sell the physical network in different virtual slices, to hundreds of vertical industries. From that perspective, if your network is good… resilient and strong” it is possible to monetize the network. Therefore, this is “a good return on investment on the network modernisation”. 

For an industry struggling with network monetisation, upgrading to Net5.5G will offer countless possibilities for new use cases and revenue streams, making it a key step on operators’ return to growth. 

Huawei recently hosted the IP GALA Summit with the theme “Bring Net5.5G into Reality, Inspire New Growth” during the MPLS SD & AI Net World Congress 2024., where many operators shared their experiences of Net5.5G. Read more here. 

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