We spoke to Three UK’s Core Network Director, Hrvoje Jerkovic, about the makings of a modern telco and the impact of disruptive new technologies in the telecoms industry

Can you tell us about your role at Three UK?

Currently I am working as Core Network Director in Three UK. Within my role I work with my team on a design, testing and delivery of all core network and services projects and deliverables.

This is an engaging and challenging role yet gives me the opportunity to bring innovative products to our users and customers. What can be more inspiring than seeing your project go live and be used.  Especially, when the team of experts have knowledge and experience to create and deliver planned objectives.

My team is driven by innovation and by providing inclusive environment. Having access to opportunities and resources motivates them to deliver our goals.

What does it mean to be a modern telco according to Three UK? 

It means that we are providing the best available service for each of our customers, which drives us to be as innovative as we possibly can. Whether this is pure connectivity or any services on top of it, that’s what a modern telco is. But to achieve this level, it is crucial to deploy modern, state of the art and reliable technologies. At Three UK we have a fully virtualised and geographically distributed core n with all the services included. This approach provides numerous benefits including easy to scale upgrades, moving traffic closer to the customer to reduce latency and higher levels of redundancy. At the centre of modern telecoms is the user’s future needs, which should be anticipated and enabled in advance.

As the Core Network Director for Three UK what is the most prominent challenge you face?

There are several technological disruptors. Migration to the pure cloud with cloud-native functions is going to be challenging. Especially for legacy functions, which are still and will be needed for providing services. Operating that cloud with all the upgrades and changes in the network will require more and more automation, which still needs a lot of control. And then we come to AI. It is inevitable that AI will be a key component of each technology in the near (should I say today) future. It will be, for sure, a differentiator not only to control and reduce operating costs but also to provide competitive advantage for the operators that aim to be the leaders in their markets.

You recently took part on a panel session at Total Telecom Congress on the topic of XaaS and exploring cloud-based products and services. To your mind, what is the key opportunity for telcos to tap into the XaaS?

From a technology point of view there is huge debate if off prem hyperscale based public cloud is the right way to go. There are many pros and cons. We must consider the need to evaluate it on a function-by-function model. Certain functions require extremely low latency and migrating them from on prem to off prem solutions might have an impact. On the other hand, cloud infra is hyperscaler’s core business and it will be difficult to build capabilities that are comparable with hyperscalers. Energy prices as a significant part of OPEX should be addressed as well, and in today’s business it cannot be excluded. Chipset shortage, hardware delivery times should also be looked at as a significant impact. And we shouldn’t forget the regulatory conditions which need to be accomplished before any migration happens.

What were you most excited to discuss at Total Telecom Congress?

Seeing some interesting deployment experiences was great. But seeing plans and roadmaps in the telco industry, from both operators, and vendors even more so. After the covid period, meeting in person, discussing and sharing thoughts, insights and trends was a real delight.