Showing off your work at the family dinner table is not a good idea. The other day, I connected a WLAN repeater and a new printer at home and then announced over dinner that we now almost had a real little campus network at home. And, by the way, I would be doing some very serious research on that at the Telekom Innovation Laboratories (T-Labs). The expected answer was, of course, that I should research the washing up first.
But then we got to talking - about how the provision of a "network" is now taken for granted, at any time and any place, with sufficient bandwidth. About what the responsibility of a network operator is, and what a "campus" is, a private area on which locally limited telecommunication networks can be created under the responsibility of the owner. In the old poetic language of telecommunication there was a word "network termination" - it means the point where the responsibility of the network operator ends and the private world of the property owner begins. A word from the world of copper wires and dials that somehow sounds a bit like an old movie in black and white with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Campus networks are beyond this "termination" and would therefore not really be our "business". But since electromagnetic waves do not simply stop propagating at a property boundary; since Telekom's expertise in network planning, operation and security can obviously be very helpful for the campus context; since the architecture of our 5G networks offers many potential synergies, it can, or should, be our business to provide offerings on the campus network market.
A very recent spin is being put on this market by the megatrend of disaggregation: until now, there have been turnkey total solutions for radio technology. These are - if you will - being "taken apart" or disaggregated. They are divided into individual components whose interaction is ensured by the precise description and standardization of the interfaces. These components can then come from a wide variety of suppliers. From traditional equipment suppliers as well as young startups that simply had a clever idea. Such an open system is more agile, more innovation-friendly and - so the expectation - also more cost-effective than the conventional monoliths. Telekom is one of the leading international network operators in promoting this approach: the keyword is Open RAN.
In the CampusOS project funded by the Ministry of Economics, a large consortium of industrial heavyweights, SMEs and leading research institutions is investigating how campus networks can be offered efficiently and securely in a disaggregated design. The goal is a modular product "Made in Germany" that can provide the appropriate configuration for the most diverse use cases of campus networks. The spectrum of requirements ranges from simple connectivity for employee communications to maximum availability and very low latencies in industrial contexts, e.g., robotics applications in factory floors. Telekom's contribution to this project is to provide components for this "construction kit": for example, Telekom's Edge Cloud offers a reliable and efficient environment for computing services from the campus network. Tried and tested security concepts can be adapted for campus networks, or new simulation systems (the trendy word is "digital twin") enable optimization of the configuration and performance parameter design of individual campus networks. With the help of network slicing in 5G networks, Telekom provides a technology that can provision campus networks simply and at the push of a button. This makes Telekom the frontrunner of the campus network market.
Our family dinner table after my little brag presented the challenge of explaining campus networks and T-Labs research in an granny-compatible way. That took a little longer than this column, but it worked. I did the dishes anyway ...