A seamless transition to new technologies
Virtualisation, 5G and other new technologies have changed the shape of the carrier network in the past few years. Jeff Hulse, vice president of North America sales at Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS), discusses how finding the right mix and customer-centric strategy can help enable a smooth transition from legacy technologies.
Virtualisation and technologies like 5G have been transforming the network as we know it over the past few years. As this takes us further into the IP age and the digital transformation shows no sign of slowing, it also creates fresh impetus for the continued transition from legacy systems like time-division multiplexing (TDM).
Illustrating the current momentum behind virtualised networks, Verizon announced in September that it has now deployed more than 8,000 cell sites with virtualised radio access network (vRAN) technology, on its way to rolling out over 20,000 by the end of 2025.
And Jeff Hulse, vice president of North America sales at Verizon Partner Solutions (VPS), says that technologies enabling virtualisation, such as SDN and NFV, are allowing collaboration with partners on more end-to-end capabilities for services. “The virtualised infrastructure drives many aspects of our 5G and Intelligent Edge Network, from policy control to multi-service edge,” he says.
Furthermore, rapidly growing options like fixed-wireless access (FWA) in the US are enabling a diversified pathway and extra digital options for integrating with and complementing other new technologies. Hulse explains that the installation of FWA within minutes once the router and SIM are on site means that customers can both use it as a bridge to a longer-to-install fibre connection and gain an alternative path.
“FWA enables some rapid installs for our partners,” says Hulse. “We see some providers who package it as part of their SD-WAN solution. Then they can turn on their primary fibre connection when the fibre delivery ultimately happens. You see the conveyor belt moving on the product lifecycle, with people accepting different access methods for SD-WAN.”
Carriers with a strong set of complementary technology options therefore have a chance to put themselves at the centre as go-to providers in the digital transformation. “We look beyond the capabilities we have deployed within the Verizon network to ensure we enable end-to-end interoperability with all of our partner ecosystems, because everybody’s trying to play in the same space,” adds Hulse.
Those with the right technology mix and customer focus also have a big opportunity to ease the process and provide options as organisations continue to undergo the shift from earlier technologies like TDM.
Much of this comes down to honing in on specific customer needs, says Hulse. “We’re carefully consulting in discussions on those transitions and on where additional investment may be required for new premises equipment,” he says.
That also goes for customers of VPS’s own partners, some of which are seeing a retention rate of 70% when their end users transition from TDM to new options. “I think that’s an excellent number,” says Hulse. “It seems like the folks who have the best relationship engagement with their end clients are the ones who are most successful.”
VPS is aiding this by matching the right products and services with customers at the local level, says Hulse. “Verizon has really taken a surgical approach at the site level to say here are all of our connectivity options,” he explains. “We work with partners for a seamless installation experience; we really put a white-glove treatment on this for a coordinated transition.”
In addition, insight into how best to facilitate the transition is provided by the intelligence that the company can harness courtesy of its network. “The VPS team has worked with partners to evaluate and inform which of their end users might be at highest risk of churning, and that they should prioritise their transition off TDM.”
Meanwhile, as a further complementary option to aid the IP journey, VPS has been exploring the possibilities for TDM emulation over IP to bridge the gap for those remaining with TDM for certain mission-critical services. Hulse expects some new options for doing this to become available next year.
For the overall journey to the world of IP and virtualised services, VPS believes it has the full range of technologies and tools to handle this shift in an integrated way. “In many cases, we’re able to work with our partners to deliver a fully managed solution,” says Hulse. “All this work has positioned us very well to support our customers on their digital transformation journey through more directional and scalable infrastructure.”