Ahead of the Carriers World event, we caught up with Adam Goodwin, head of Wholesale EMEA at Telstra, to find out how network automation will be the bedrock of profitable 5G services for operators across the world

How important is network automation, particularly as we prepare for 5G rollouts across the globe?

We believe 5G technology will turn up the dial on innovation and supercharge a fourth industrial revolution. The beginnings of those changes are already apparent, given 5G will underpin emerging disruptive technologies such artificial intelligence, augmented reality, automation, IoT, robotics and others.

However, that level of technological development has a significant impact on our networks. In fact, we have re-examined how we do business – and what we offer – in light of these changes. Network innovation is driving the consumption of emergent technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) platforms.

Leveraging on SDN technology, Telstra Programmable Network is the industry’s first globally connected on-demand networking platform. It gives customers flexible consumption and automated provisioning of network services in real time. It enables on-demand, high-performance networks with the flexibility and scalability for customers and carriers to reach new markets, enable backup restoration and connect to the cloud etc.


What role can SDN and NFV solutions play in making telcos more efficient and more profitable?

The network sits at the centre of successful digital transformation. The ability to optimise the performance and efficiency of your network will improve your organisation’s chances of digital transformation success.

Software-defined infrastructure offers a new kind of network that can adapt quickly, learn to improve its own performance, and evolve with the organisation. It offers a step change in the efficiency, flexibility, and speed with which organisations order and manage their network services and infrastructure.

With TPN, customers can create flows and NFV within 10 minutes, and connect to global leading clouds by a few clicks via API integration and automation. This on-demand model allows us to meet market demands and at the same time serve new segments more effectively and efficiently.


What trends are you noticing developing in the industry at the moment?

Digital technologies have dramatically altered the balance of power between organisations and their customers, with customers gaining the power of information, choice and convenience.

Digitally mature companies with digital technologies at their core have many advantages over their analogue counterparts with legacy systems. They deliver better customer experiences that anticipate their customer needs and then exceed those expectations. They use data and analytics to evolve their products and services at scale, adapting to changing market conditions and customer demands. They also operate with dramatically better economics, mainly because of automation and robotics.


What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment?

We see many customers are cautious when it comes to integrating new technology into their existing networks. This pattern of behaviour is akin to the change mindset prevalent years ago when cloud migration was seen in a similar way. Now, over 80 per cent of business have undertaken moved to the cloud – and that is sparking more interest in technologies like SD-WAN.

Telstra was the first to deliver SD-WAN as a virtual solution to extend the branch for customers in the Asia Pacific. However, we have to remember that, while technology innovation like SD-WAN is something we talk about every day in our roles, for the vast majority of customers it is something that is very new.


What predictions do you have for the industry over the course of the next 12-18 months?

The adoption of trends like IoT will only spur further adoption of technologies that can optimise our networks. This means that there will be more devices on the network, consuming more capacity, and demanding more visibility, maintenance, and security.

Whether through SD-WAN or other technologies, that demand will have to be met, and as carriers and service providers, it is contingent on us to ensure that we have the fundamental infrastructure to deal with that booming demand.