Need for agile OSS/BSS, concerns over security and standardisation represent biggest hurdles, research finds

The rate of network transformation among telcos is slower than expected, according to new research published on Thursday.

A survey carried out by TM Forum found that 48% of communication service providers (CSPs) have yet to establish a business case for virtualisation, a key component of network transformation. The industry association asserts that CSPs struggle to agree on where network transformation fits within their overall digital transformation strategy.

It attributed this failure to the loose definition of what is involved with a digital transformation programme; the different objectives and changing timeframes for network virtualisation and cloud adoption; and the relationship between a telco’s IT department and various other divisions, such as the technology teams within the consumer and enterprise units.

60% of respondents cited the need for a new generation of agile OSS/BSS as the biggest barrier to network transformation. 56% said security vulnerabilities were their biggest concern, while 52% cited lengthy maturity times for industry standards.

Less than a third of CSPs said they are deploying network functions virtualisation (NFV) in the packet core, and only 36% are deploying it at the mobile edge or have rolled out virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE). TM Forum put a positive spin on it though, noting that 23% of operators have no timetable for deploying NFV, compared to 30% when the same survey was conducted 12 months ago.

"The telecoms industry first started to embrace the concepts of network virtualisation and software-defined networking eight or nine years ago," said Mark Newman, chief analyst at TM Forum, in a statement.

He said CSPs are gradually starting to move from the awareness and planning phases of digital transformation to deployment of virtual network functions (VNFs).

"This progress is a positive thing, albeit a lot slower than expected," he said.