Dell and Analysys Mason Announce Telecom Open Network Index

The new Open Network Index (ONI) report measures 50 Tier 1 operators worldwide on their network modernization progress.

Communications service providers (CSPs) around the globe recognize the myriad benefits cloud-native open network architectures can deliver to move their businesses forward. Almost all (nine in 10) CSPs believe open networks are critical to their survival. However, only two in 10 have an open network strategy in place, according to a recent global survey of CSPs.

To help understand this gap between CSPs’ aspirations for open network transformation and actionable strategies, Dell Technologies, in collaboration with Analysys Mason, today unveiled a new Open Network Index (ONI) report that measures 50 Tier 1 operators worldwide on their network modernization progress.

The ONI benchmarks network operator progress from an open vision and operational strategy perspective and a technical execution maturity perspective. Overall, survey respondents displayed a strong willingness to align themselves with open networking principles, and many have already established open network transformation strategies and business cases for this purpose. However, the technical implementation of open network architectures and (especially) open operating models remains challenging for operators.

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Figure 1. Open Network Index: open network progress of 50 Tier-1 operators, categorized by vision/strategy and technical execution maturity, worldwide, December 2023 – January 2024.

The ONI assessed operators on three key factors including openness vision, openness architecture and operational strategy and open partnerships and industry cooperation. Based on these factors, the analysis then gauged the technical execution maturity for each operator, including their open vendor approach, the adoption of an open network cloud architecture and their open network domain execution. ONI uncovered four overall findings.

  1. Operators are embracing open networking principles but continue to struggle with implementation. According to ONI, 16% of network operators are engaged in transformation, 28% are working on their open network strategy and 44% are planning to work on their strategy. The technical implementation of open network architectures and (especially) open operating models remains challenging for operators. Overcoming these hurdles will require operators to build skills internally and to partner more closely with network-function-neutral vendors such as IT vendors, systems integrators (SIs) and public cloud providers (PCPs).
  1. Horizontal network cloud architectures are the gold standard for operators, but adoption remains slow for all network domains. The concept of an open cloud is central to the vision of open networks, which will help operators eliminate network silos, simplify their operations and provide cost-saving synergies. The respondents that were most aligned to openness aim to adopt such a platform, but many had yet to implement this vision because it requires significant effort to do so.
  1. The adoption of open networks is highest in the mobile core domain, but operators are also extending their transformation efforts to the RAN and network edge. Most operators surveyed want to deploy multi-vendor Open RAN, but mainstream deployment appears to be two to three years away due to the complexity of such networks and maturity issues with the technology. In addition, operators are gradually building out their network edge using open architectures to support new revenue-generating services such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), massive machine type communications (mMTC) and fixed-wireless access (FWA).
  1. Operators need to develop an openness strategy and approach its implementation in the right way. ONI highlights specific calls to action for network operators:
    • Create cross-domain teams focused on openness.
    • Adopt an incremental approach horizontal cloud platform transformation.
    • Engage with new partners to help reduce the complexity of open network adoption.
    • Establish monetization strategies that leverage the modular nature of open, disaggregated networks.
    • Increase involvement in industry standards groups focused on the development of open cloud principles.

The ONI mirrors the cloud transformation trajectory that Dell Technologies has experienced in supporting and implementing hundreds of successful cloud transformation deployments in the enterprise sector. Dell’s multi-partner telecom ecosystem and were born out of the enterprise experience to support CSPs as they embrace open networks and implement open network adoption strategies.

The ONI reflects the understanding among operators that the move to disaggregated networks requires a new mindset, especially regarding partner support in developing open architecture and open operating models. Over the next two to three years, CSPs in the ONI foresee broader adoption of open networks as the Open RAN ecosystem matures and closes the performance gap between vRAN/Open RAN and appliance-based RAN.

Where would your organization land on the ONI? Download the report to learn more about the best practices that are helping CSPs move forward on their cloud transformation journey.

Learn more about Dell telecom solutions here.

Doug Wolff

About the Author: Doug Wolff

Doug Wolff joined Dell Technologies in 2018 as Industry CTO for Telecom and is currently Head of Strategy and Planning for the Telecom Systems Business. Doug has 30+ years of experience in the Telecom & Wireless Industries in various technology, business development and product management leadership positions. Doug is currently focused on the Telecom market and the emerging 5G+/6G, Open RAN, Private Mobility, Cloud Native Network Transformation and Edge Computing technologies and ecosystem strategy for the Telecom Systems Business. Previous role as VP Product Development at Elefante Group from 2017-2018. VP/CTO at Ericsson from 2012-2017. GM/VP for LTE Product Line & Solutions at Alcatel Lucent from 2009-2012. Nortel GM/VP CDMA Product Line from 2004-2009. Prior to this role held various product management, business development and R&D positions at Nortel, M/A-COM, Motorola and Northrop DSD.