If there is one broad theme that sums up this year’s Mobile World Congress for me it is the idea of ‘the network as asset’, and the perception that CSPs could and should be doing a great deal more to leverage this their prime asset.
Customer experience also figured highly in the briefings and presentations I attended, but by contrast with last year’s heavy CEM-software product focus, this year customer experience was discussed just as much in the context of network performance and the need to make more effective use of network intelligence.
The network as asset
The launch of NSN’s Liquid Applications provides a good starting point for my MWC overview as it illustrates how central network and IT assets are not just to delivering operational efficiencies and good customer experience but also to generating new services.
NSN CEO Rajeev Suri made a point of emphasising the untapped value of the network when discussing Liquid Applications: “we need to leverage the value of the network, it is a massive asset.”
A complement to NSN’s Liquid Net portfolio, Liquid Applications pushes processing capabilities from the core out to the network edge, caching content locally at the base station in order to improve network performance and customer experience.
Some initial reactions to Liquid Applications have pointed out that there are existing tools such as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) that can be used to reduce transmission costs and maintain good user experience. But I think what is particularly interesting about Liquid Applications is not just how it provides processing and storage capabilities at the BTS but also how it can work closely with IBM Big Data-driven analytics technology to enable new services.
At the heart of Liquid Applications is NSN’s Radio Application Cloud Server (RACS) and this, together with IBM’s WebSphere Application Service Platform for Networks (ASPN) platform, delivers service creation capabilities. Liquid Applications both gathers real-time network data – about radio conditions, subscriber location, direction of travel, etc – and turns the data into context-relevant services.
Both NSN and IBM stands at the show had a demo of a ‘City in Motion’ solution which analyzes radio data to help identify population flow and so configure city’s transport network in real-time, and this was quoted as an example of the type of service that could be enabled by Liquid Applications.