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The communications service provider (CSP) industry continues to show signs of disruption and transformation. Many CSPs are abandoning the closed, proprietary infrastructures of the past for more agile and open ones in order to offer services more quickly and support tech-savvy customers with a host of new and evolving expectations. These CSPs are making plans for 5G, continuing deployment of network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), and are moving forward with new services to use edge computing.

According to The Linux Foundation, 2018 is the year we’ll really see open source networking take hold. Telcos have run proof of concepts (POCs) to test open source, and are now readying solutions for prime time. There are plenty of open source communities and projects developing technologies and solutions that telcos want on top of existing open source projects like OpenStack, OpenDaylight, the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) and the Open Network Application Platform (ONAP), just to name few.

In a 2017 survey, 84 percent of respondents from CSPs said OpenStack is key to their company’s success, and more than a third of the respondents said OpenStack is the basis for their NFV deployment projects. The OpenDaylight Project arose out of the SDN movement and was designed from the get-go as a foundation for commercial solutions that address a variety of use cases in existing network environments. OPNFV is an open source project designed to provide a consistent interface among virtual infrastructure platforms for the deployment of network functions, and ONAP provides a platform for real-time, policy-driven orchestration and automation of physical and virtual network functions.

The Linux Foundation reports that there are more than one billion OpenDaylight-based networks around the globe; ONAP is in production with Bell Canada, and Orange is planning a full-scale rollout of NFV using OPNFV. In fact, we believe that NFV has the potential to be mainstream in 2018, and to cover the core to the edge as well as RAN use cases.

Here’s some more of what I predict we will see this year:

5G, supported by open source technologies, will be a commonplace technology from which end-users can benefit. 5G, by the way, refers to the fifth-generation wireless broadband technology that promises speed and coverage improvements over existing cellular systems like 4G, with low-latency wireless up to 1GB/s. While 5G is getting a lot of attention thanks to the opportunities it is expected to create for enterprises and the workplace, the technologies to be used in 5G are still being defined. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open, and report here as the 5G market evolves.

Container-based deployments and microservices architectures will become the default for NFV rollouts and operational tooling will mature this year. And artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will begin to play a prominent role in telecommunications. Already, these technologies are playing a role in self-managing networks and that I expect that will continue to evolve. Cybersecurity will, as always, be a top priority for telcos, especially as they grapple with the increased security challenges that come with NFV and virtualized networks, and with IoT.

As the year progresses, we’ll update you on the progress of these key trends and cover new developments. Keep us informed too. In the comments section below, share the telecommunications initiatives your organization is pursuing, and let us know of any developments we’ve missed in our 2018 outlook.

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