The Value of Multichannel Routers to Network Operators11.01.2021
Intuitively one might think that a solution using multiple networks would not be in the best interest of a network operator. This might be due to thinking that whatever traffic is directed to other networks is away from one’s own. However, when one hops onto the shoes of the customer, it is easy to see the benefit of multichannel and how it can unlock and create value that was not there for the taking to begin with.
The clearest example of such value is the ability to enable completely new use and to enable the usage of such network technology in the first place. For example, traditionally we have seen that public safety authorities have relied on narrowband voice-only communications in TETRA networks. These networks have solid coverage and good reliability when compared to, for example, new cellular networks like LTE and 5G. Many countries such as US, UK, South Korea, and Finland are working towards special cellular networks to close the gap to TETRA, but the work is far from done. However, combined with the multichannel approach, these new technologies are beginning to reach TETRA in terms of reliability and coverage, so the customers can already now tap into all the possibilities of broadband data from streaming video and patient vital signs to accessing all backend systems on the go equally as well as from the office. Another similar example is in industrial settings, where the reliability requirements have dictated wireline communications. With modern wireless networks and multichannel routers, many connected machines can be freely positioned and moved around in, for example, the factory, shipyard, or port. This enables the operators of these industrial environments unseen flexibility in production and production planning. In both cases the network operator can get a user for their network that was previously completely out of reach.
In the same industrial settings, there is another opportunity for network operators by simply extending their private network offering with the ability for users to seamlessly move in and out of the network area with multichannel routers tuned to both the private network and the prevailing commercial network. Users interested in this are often logistics players such as trucks, ships and trains that visit the area regularly, but spend most of their time beyond the coverage of the private network. For example, a ship is connected to a satellite communications system as it approaches the harbor from the open seas and moves seamlessly to utilize the private 5G as it enters the port. The different machines in the port use a commercial LTE network as the backup for the private 5G when off loading the good from the ship. And finally, the same process repeats as a train is loaded and leaves the coverage area to tap into a commercial LTE network. Instead of presenting competition to the private network, this interoperability greatly increases its value.
A third way to benefit is open for those network operators that have optimized their network for some other feature than what a specific customer values the most. Sounds again counter-intuitive? Let us take an example of a customer that absolutely needs coverage. They have selected their cellular operator based on the best network coverage and are simply impossible to win over by the operator with the fastest network. However, if the operator with the fastest network would propose a multichannel solution that utilizes the fastest network and only fails over to the best coverage network in the border areas, they could likely win most this customer’s business over.
There are also more miniature, but still relevant benefits to network operators like the ability to sell a more comprehensive offering in general and specifically being able to offer managed network services also for the multichannel network. And finally, one should not forget the possibility of multichannel routers in internal use by doing competitive analytics by running their own network and competing networks in parallel and looking at the results.
It might be just us, but we see a tremendous opportunity not only for customers but also for network operators in embracing the multichannel paradigm.