The Driverless Cars On The Way Of 5G: A Revolution Not Without Risks

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Considering 5G, and the huge number of new products and services being distributed on top of connectivity, takes me back to those Sci-Fi TV shows we watched as kids and the innovative gadgets they used. Those shows didn’t provide insight into how to watch or control the business threats involved with these new technologies. These are important aspects that we must address in today’s real-life Sci-Fi world, says Carlos Marques, head of product marketing & analyst relations at WeDo Technologies.

In the near future, 5G and the innovations brought from these advancements promise to bring us new services such as autonomous cars, connected homes and smart cities. These services will depend on a new standard on network efficiency, connection density and innovative applications for example, network slicing.

To show the full potential of IoT supported by 5G cellular data and the monetisation possibilities for CSPs, and also to spot the risks that CSPs will need protection from, WeDo Technologies prepared a product demo for a digital ecosystem.

The story goes like this: imagine this not so futurist circumstance – where Rabi is thrilled that his favourite musical band is coming to town and buys a ticket to the show. On the evening of the event, Rabi uses an app on his phone to access a peer-to-peer ridesharing service (OTT) to hire an autonomous car which will take him to the show. John likes this new service and the capability to use his mobile wallet, which is allowed by his communications service provider (CSP). Using the mobile wallet, John gets some attractive rewards:

  • There is no necessity to provide credit card information in the app due to partner agreements between the CSP and the OTT.
  • You can get to the stadium by giving a fixed fee in advance
  • An estimated time of arrival (ETA) is given due to the connected services that bear the autonomous car on its journey

The night doesn’t begin well, as Rabi is unable to unlock the autonomous car because of an error between the ridesharing service and John’s account balance provided by the CSP’s OSS/BSS systems. Besides this, once Rabi at last gets on his way, there are problems with the fleet of autonomous cars receiving the right traffic information from the various smart city applications, which results in Rabi stuck in a traffic jam.

Finally Rabi gets to the show, but not without frustration with the multiple service providers related to his autonomous car experience.

In the growing 5G and IoT ecosystem of partners, platforms and services, CSPs will experience increased complexity with billing and transactional data spread across the value-chain. In the case of John not being able to access his autonomous car, provisioning data discrepancies have occurred – likely due to a synchronisation issue somewhere amongst the multiple platforms involved in the transaction. Additionally, these multiple platforms can wreak havoc when event records are misaligned, dropped or possibly not even generated into the revenue stream, creating a perfect scenario for billing and invoice errors, lost revenues and reduced margins.

Smart city and autonomous cars will require diverse network demands to use 5G network slices to supply several service levels and custom-made services. Like in the case of John’s journey, the corresponding ridesharing service would use 5G slices for immediate monitoring of traffic management letting the service to run smoothly, while also calculating an ETA to the show. If network slices are not closely observed and profoundly related to the services that they carry, data errors are missed, and service levels are affected, making a negative impact from the partner network all the way through to the end customer.

To guard these new digital ecosystems from revenue and margin losses and guarantee an acceptable customer experience at the partner and end-customer levels, CSPs will require a risk management system that recognizes all the variables of each partner contract, including observing real-time service usage, QoS, QoE, and provisioning of simultaneous slice instances. This not only guarantees that network capacity is conveyed as agreed and everyone pays for what they use, but also promises the value chain is protected from the CSP connectivity to the end user that gets access to a service.

These virtualised environments will need BSS solutions which are both flexible and programmable, and also capable to instantly capture any type of chargeable event. As modern business support systems (BSS) should be able to respond in real time and accommodate new billing events, so should the risk management and auditing tools.

Billing validation with AI and machine learning capabilities to ensure the right monetisation of demanding connectivity services, such as V2X (vehicle-to-everything), should completely comprehend service level agreement (SLA) breaches between partners with temporary slice allocation and provisioning so as to meet the exactness of real-time billing. Auditing the policy-based charging will be vital to billing functions in order to decide how quality of service and SLAs will meet agreed upon charging contract terms.