At the beginning of 2020, none of us would have imagined the challenges we would be facing. And yet, while the past year has been difficult for many around the world, we have also witnessed the resilience of the human spirit. Because of this, we can look forward to 2021 with optimism. Indeed, many of last year’s challenges have transformed into some of the biggest opportunities for 2021.
Shift from Video Conferencing to Immersive Engagements
Network infrastructure was able to scale and accommodate increased demands from video conferencing and increased internet usage. As people have adjusted to the “new normal” of online conferencing, businesses, local governments and educational institutions are now able to evaluate new telepresence solutions that let employees, constituents and students interact through more realistic engagements.
For operators and vendors alike, there is an opportunity to deliver more complete immersive media solutions to enhance people’s video conferencing needs. Operators can take advantage of the current adoption of video conferencing to deliver solutions that integrate a variety of immersive media features such as:
- Digital Virtual Assistants which can be integrated into existing conferencing systems and use natural language processing to interact with the participants, take verbal instructions to perform tasks, and can even capture meeting notes.
- Mixed Reality Conferencing which allows participants to make video calls in a holographic environment using 3D avatars to deliver a more in-person feel to the meeting.
- Smart Virtual Classrooms that can leverage detailed animated materials or 3D images that can be manipulated in the virtual environment or allow professors to seamlessly insert video content into their lectures.
By adopting a programmable microservices approach, operators can leverage pre-packaged modules to develop new immersive communication and collaboration services. Integrating low-to-to-no-code, easy to maintain microservices with solid platforms that deliver full media resource function (MRF), telephony application servers (TAS) and webRTC solutions, such as Engage Media Server, allows operators to increase the video capabilities of their current applications and begin to offer these immersive engagement experiences as significant enhancements to their Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) offerings in 2021.
Critical Role of 5G Small Cell Deployments and Private Networks
For many of the services mentioned above, the continued deployment of 5G solutions remains a critical component. While virtual reality (VR) and AR are not new, immersive engagement service offerings will be able to maximize the ultra-low latency and high-performance capabilities of 5G.
5G small cell deployments will be an increasingly important factor in the success of operators’ ability to deliver these new immersive solutions. By deploying both indoor and outdoor small cells, operators can substantially increase the number of endpoints to provide coverage and capacity where it is needed. Businesses can also deploy to their networks or use the available dedicated, unlicensed or shared spectrum to deploy their own5G small cells for IIoT applications or to support AR functionality for mission-critical applications. This ease of scalability, coupled with the increased advantages of densification, will make small cell deployments one of the leading 5G focal points for operators and enterprises alike in 2021.
The Growing Maturity of Open RAN Solutions
The RAN remains a key factor in the successful development of 5G networks. As mobile operators continue with their 5G deployments, we are starting to see more deployments of Open RAN solutions, not just in the labs but in the field. Through the efforts of many standards organizations and their member companies, operators are able to successfully deploy multi-vendor solutions within their networks. These standards address a wide range of use cases to meeting operators’ Open RAN deployment needs and ensure that Open RAN products and solutions are fully interoperable.
This interoperability will spur increased growth in the Open RAN ecosystem, providing operators with an increased number of best-in-class solutions to choose from with fewer concerns about integrating those solutions into existing networks. We expect to see more large-scale Open RAN deployments in 2021 as operators continue to see how Open RAN can significantly contribute to the full potential of 5G.
As we look ahead to the new year, there really is no way of knowing what it may hold. But as we look at the challenges we faced in 2020 and the opportunities they have created, I am confident that, together, we can continue to develop and deliver solutions that will not simply help businesses survive but thrive this year, and in the near future. I hope you will join me in looking forward to 2021 with the optimism it deserves.
You can learn more about Radisys’ immersive engagement solutions, support for 5G small cells and private network deployments and Connect Open RAN solutions by visiting our website: https://www.radisys.com/.
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