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Carriers Need To Get Their 5G Act Together Transformation Conference Hears

Carriers such as Telstra and Optus need to get their acts together a Digital Transformation forum in London has heard.

Nikos Katinakis, Head of Networks & IT at Telstra was at the event when research claiming the telecoms industry was costing itself a billion dollars a year by using 30-year-old procurement practices.

The research specifically identified the RFP (request for proposal) process as a bit of a liability, with two thirds of CSPs and three quarters of vendors surveyed agreeing that it’s no longer fit for purpose.

In a keynote session focusing on network transformation for the 5G era Elisabetta Romano, CTIO of TIM, Nikos Katinakis, Head of Networks & IT of Telstra and Luc Noiseux Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Cogeco talked about how their companies’ own IT systems are adapting to the 5G era.

Romano expressed frustration at the speed with which vendors deliver solutions to emerging needs.

The problem it appears is the sheer complexity of all the clever stuff that needs to be done to make 5G work in a network and the cost which is a problem that Telstra is grappling with.

It’s also a problem that the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission seems to have ignored in the decision to stop the merger of TPG and Vodafone in Australia.

“There has always been criticism of the use of the RFP for IT procurement because it glorifies the process rather than the outcome,” said TM Forum’s Chief Analyst, Mark Newman. “But what has now changed is the desire to transition to agile IT development and the need for a more flexible, iterative procurement process.

“This poses real challenges for the procurement function. First, it’s likely to shift the balance between capex and opex budgets. Second, CSPs expect to get more bang for their buck if vendors partner with them on agile development. However, CSPs don’t necessarily know how much a project or solution created with a vendor partner will actually cost in a year’s time.”

TM Forum reckons the agile IT approach could cut the procurement process down from the current average of 12-18 months to just 2-3 months. Just as with the perennial call for vendors to raise their game, however, this would require the kind of cultural shift that is so often the biggest obstacle to successful digital transformation. So, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this issue crop up at future events too.

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