This article originally appeared in Telecom Review
Out with the old and in with the new? Not when it comes to 5G. Although mobile operators are rapidly deploying 5G standalone (SA) networks, they cannot sunset their 4G networks anytime soon because consumers and businesses still use LTE.
The Middle East was home to 18 5G networks in February 2021, . Roughly 40 percent of the region’s wireless connections still used LTE, according to the research firm OMDIA. It will take the better part of this decade to migrate most of them to 5G. Others will remain on 4G long past 2030, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices designed to stay in service for 10-15 years. No wonder 4G is called long term evolution.
This 4G-5G coexistence creates a host of interworking challenges and considerations. And the greatest challenge is vendor lock-in. Most operators have a 4G core from a major vendor that makes it almost impossible to deploy a different 5G SA solution. Operators also will not find much help in 3GPP standards, which were late to define 4G-5G interworking.
So they face a tough choice: Either stay locked into their incumbent vendor for the foreseeable future or break free now, choose a neutral, open vendor and begin leveraging best-in-breed functions for 5G.
Tier 1 operators are best positioned to break free. They have large engineering staffs, so they’re better able to handle the challenges and risks of switching vendors. Their size also gives them more muscle to force their incumbent vendors to cooperate. Even so, breaking free isn’t easy for Tier 1s — and even less so for smaller operators.
Discover what options are available to break free from vendor lock-in, read the rest of the article here
To learn more about how mobile operators in Europe, North America and elsewhere are partnering with Enea to break vendor lock-in, download “Data Management Interworking between 4G HSS and 5G UDM.”