China Telecom grabs a slice of the 5G action with digital services marketplace

A new TM Forum proof-of-concept Catalyst project, championed by China Telecom, is showing how CSPs can be at the centre of a digital services marketplace.

Communications service providers (CSPs) the world over are striving to transform their businesses to ensure success in the digital world. They understand the need to evolve from being ‘dumb pipes’ simply delivering connectivity to being part of a multi-dimensional ecosystem and creating new value for customers and partners.

The project’s approach approach enables them to better monetize their assets through network slicing, at the same time as improving customer experience and loyalty via strategic partnerships.

Catalyst participants BUPT, AsiaInfo, Whale Cloud and ZTE are helping China Telecom to bring this vision to life.

 “We believe 2G was the era of voice, 4g the age of traffic/data and 5G is the age of the ecosystem,” said Yuli Wu, Business technical manager, Whale Cloud

Network slicing allows a physical network to be divided into multiple virtual networks, enabling operators to provision the right ‘slice’ depending on the requirements of the use case. This flexibility creates opportunities for new business models and revenue as operators can offer customized network slices to various different business verticals. Through the marketplace vision driving the 5G Value Plus Lifecycle Catalyst, CSPs can use the slicing model as the basis for a value-added ‘one-stop shop’ for customers.

Services for connected customers

At the recent TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia event in Kuala Lumpur, the Catalyst team demonstrated how this could work in practice with the example of a sports fan who can’t make a live football game in person, but still wants to watch it on television.

Through the digital services marketplace, the customer can book to watch the game at a local experience centre, which would include allocating a 5G slice to enable high-quality viewing. Via the same marketplace, the customer could also book a car/ride-share to travel to the viewing centre as well as virtual reality (VR) glasses to get the most from the experience. Partners could send the customer related personalised offers, via the digital services marketplace, such as food and drink deals, discounts for car parking and more.

“The customer can go to the 5G marketplace and get all the services for his life,” said Wu.

Such a marketplace/platform approach could have applications in various sectors, including education, transportation, smart home, health, manufacturing, entertainment, financial services and more.

Customer growth

In the proposed solution, WhaleCloud provides the 5G marketplace, including the loyalty programme and partner onboarding; ZTE delivers an end-to-end slicing operation system; and AsiaInfo provides big data platform technology to enable data analysis and personalized marketing. BUPT acts as a consultant.

The team used and will contribute back to several TM Forum tools and assets, including the Customer Lifecycle Model and Open APIs. Digital ecosystem management tool CurateFx was used to outline the participants’ various roles and responsibilities within the project.

Wu said: “The construction of the 5G ecosystem marketplace links all sectors of an industry, makes channels more flexible, makes commodity value more diversified, makes customer growth more attractive and over time enriches the whole ecosystem.”

The team is now considering how they will develop this work in the future.

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