Dhananjay Ganjoo, Managing Director, India and SAARC, F5

With the ongoing digital transformation, India is adopting technologies such as internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and cloud, and coming up with new business models and strategies. The government has implemented various policies to leverage the benefits of these disruptive technologies across sectors. In an interview with tele.net Dhananjay Ganjoo, managing director, India and SAARC, F5, talks about the technology trends shaping the telco business and how F5 is helping telcos leverage new technologies…

How is India gearing up for 5G roll-out?

Globally, many top telecom operators have already started their move towards 5G. According to the latest State of Application Service 2020 report, 90 per cent of telecom providers are operating in a multi-cloud environment. In India, on the other hand, LTE roll-out is currently in progress and will continue over the next few years. The latest Ericsson Mobility Report indicates that India will have about 80 per cent of 3G and 4G subscribers by 2020.

This presents an exceedingly positive scenario for the evolution of 5G in India, considering that it will be an overlay network and will work as a unit with 4G. From a technological point of view, operators need to invest more in their 4G networks to ensure a smooth progression towards 5G Bharat.

The country’s existing telecom infrastructure, catering to a billion active users, may require rapid expansion, but the absence of clarity on active network sharing, distributed right-of-way norms and thin fibre penetration may not make 2020 a true 5G year. If the government aims to make 5G services commercially available by the next year, enhancing our ICT infrastructure should be a national priority.

How can telcos implement natively designed security capabilities to protect their infrastructure? What role is F5 playing in this regard?

Even as 5G promises to provide network performance characteristics that are significantly better than the previous generations, deploying 5G infrastructure is more challenging than any other next-generation network. Service providers need to meet extreme end-to-end bandwidth and concurrent connection requirements and deliver highly responsive, low latency connections to a multitude of devices and device types. At the same time, telcos need to simultaneously support and optimise their existing network, which is largely based on old technology platforms that can neither scale nor support new 5G technologies.

With the rapid transition to virtualised/cloud-based edge, core and data networks, F5 delivers one of the industry’s broadest portfolios of virtual network function (VNF), allowing brands to seamlessly transition their networks to high performance virtual editions in the data centre or the network edge. Service providers can scale and simplify their existing 4G LTE network and evolve to 5G with automation, protocol fluency and high performance virtualised software. These solutions will help brands to:

  • Simplify organisation core network architecture and operations and reduce costs with the integration of STGi-LAN/N6 services into a single platform, deployable as hardware and virtual appliances.
  • Migrate seamlessly to a network functions virtualisation infrastructure, using a broad range of VNFs as well as a VNF manager.
  • Support network transition from 4G to 5G, and service migration through protocol fluency and comprehensive interworking capabilities such as HTTP/2 and diameter.

How can the industry overcome the cyber risk associated with IoT devices?

When we talk about IoT, security could be considered as one of the most critical issues. The enormous amount of diverse devices connected to the global network increases infrastructure vulnerability and the possibility of hacking and DoS attacks. These DDoS attacks and advanced persistent threats could have devastating effects on network availability.

The increasing number of applications and services will introduce new and unknown threat vectors that could expose service provider assets, degrade service availability, and, most importantly, damage reputations and brands. Further, with the increase in application usage, traditional framework concerns such as scale and reliability will become ever more critical. On top of that, challenges related to identity and access, end user or subscriber experience, and the need for faster provisioning of services could overwhelm IT departments.

The world needs to be ready with a robust, scalable, and intelligent infrastructure, capable of handling massive traffic growth. To ensure robust security, smart routing and analytics, various networking layers must be fluent in the languages that end devices use. Good network management must underpin business continuity to reduce risk and counter potential losses.

It is crucial to ensure that each IoT device is behaving as it should, and its data has not been manipulated. Breaches need to be detected as quickly as possible to limit possible damage. Businesses need to ensure they have full visibility and quickly allocate resources that are critical to meet the increasing demands of IoT devices.