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Backhaul

5G Backhaul Vendors Have Opportunity, Work to Do

Vendors of 5G backhaul will interpret the information provided by communication service providers (CSPs) on this month's Thought Leadership Council (TLC) in one of two ways: either as doors of opportunity being thrown wide open or slammed shut.

So what's the delineation?

It really comes down to what vendors choose to do when they realize that network operators are very close to deploying backhaul systems to support their 5G plans, yet they haven't made final decisions about which vendors they're going to work with to deploy those networks. Because that's exactly what CSPs are saying in the latest TLC report, 5G Focus Group: CSPs Ready 5G Backhaul Sans Clear Vendor Relationships.

In fact, the 17 council members that participated in this month's forum couldn't even come to a real consensus about the vendors they believe are most critical for 5G backhaul. Seven council members each considered Nokia and Ericsson as critical vendors for 5G backhaul, followed by Cisco, which was seen as a critical supplier by six council members. Juniper was considered a critical supplier by five CSPs and Huawei by four.

Ten additional vendors were mentioned in the report in varying degrees of importance to 5G backhaul deployment by council members, ranging from somewhat important to unknown. Unfortunately, the majority of vendors were ranked as unknown by the vast majority of council members.

Hopefully, this information won't equate to a bunch of vendors slamming doors on this opportunity, either out of frustration or, worse, because they believe their existing customer relationships are so well defined that they can't possibly be one of the vendors described in this report.

Because the truth is that even the vendors that scored higher than others have work to do. The information provided by these CSPs shows there is a lot of opportunity for all 5G backhaul vendors to get in front of CSPs and hawk their wares, especially in terms of value proposition.

Because that is another important message that this month's council had for vendors: About half that are looking for new vendors are doing so out of a need for competitive pricing. The second biggest driver for looking at new vendors is the need to find technology options that existing vendors don't provide.


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This month's focus group was asked ten questions to ascertain deployment plans, assess vendors, budgets and obstacles for 5G backhaul. The results clearly indicate that CSPs have a good grasp of, and are well on their way toward deploying, 5G backhaul despite not having made firm choices of the vendors they'll use for those deployments.

TLC is a Heavy Reading research initiative that consists of panels of CSP experts focused on key areas of telecom development, including service assurance, SD-WAN, automation, 5G and IoT. Members participate in Q&A forums several times a year, and all information disclosed by Council members remains anonymous.

— Denise Culver, Director of Online Research, Heavy Reading

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