Posted on June 16, 2014
Recently I attended the Telecommunications Industry Association Network of the Future Conference in Dallas. The conference was well attended and featured a combination of informative keynotes and a series of lively panel discussions. I participated as a panelist for the 5G Networks track Carrier Aggregation Across Licensed and Unlicensed Spectrum. (I wrote about this in my last blog.)
Over the next few months I plan to blog about some of the conference’s themes But for this post, I want to focus on the conference’s front-and-center issue: the adoption and growth of Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV).
SDN allows network topologies to be defined via software. Think of it as using “digital wires” to interconnect the network. SDN enables the decoupling of the system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent, called the “control plane”, from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the destination, called the “data plane.” The key benefit here is that ease in changing network topology. The first network area to really benefit from SDN is called the vGI-LAN. That’s the IP network between the packet gateway and the public Internet. It’s also the natural starting place for this type of network evolution.
NFV is related to SDN and allows network functions such as the evolved packet core Mobility Management Entity (MME) or Packet Data Network Gateway (PGW) to be virtualized and “freed” from the underlying dedicated hardware, and to run on commodity systems. This is of course the overwhelming trend in enterprise and Internet computing; and it’s been fundamental to the amazing growth of offerings such as Amazon Web Services.
So what does this mean for operators who adopt the trend? With SDN or NFV virtualization, operators can:
Operators can also adopt the “DevOps” model used by many Internet companies, which closely aligns the roles of software development with production IT.
Traditionally IT teams have managed Operation System Support (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) functions, and network teams have managed the core network. With virtualization, these lines are blurring. Because the increasing majority of network functions will be virtualized in commodity hardware housed in data centers, the bulk of network management might actually be controlled by IT. That’s a big change!
For vendors, this can only be positive news. Sales cycles will likely be shorter, and new opportunities for software companies to provide technology to the operators will proliferate. So it’s important that vendors in this space adapt, as well, and speak this Agile language.
SDN- and NFV-based deployments promise powerful capability for quick network evolution. Devicescape’s Wi-Fi Service Platform is built from the ground up using virtualization and can easily integrate into the NFV model. It’ll be interesting to see where the adoption of Agile processes take the network.
Chief Executive Officer
New opportunities for telecom operators
Posted on June 2, 2014
It’s remarkable how well mobile operators navigated the challenge of massive growth in mobile data consumption. For a mammoth industry—oft criticized for slow movement—things moved extremely fast over the last two years. The big shift to shared data plans drove alignment of data growth with revenue growth, while the technology transition to LTE helped improve Read More
Posted on June 1, 2014
Recently I’ve been following the proposals to use unlicensed (i.e. Wi-Fi) spectrum to augment cellular capacity. The most prevalent camp proposes using LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, introduced in 3GPP release 10, where the 5Ghz Wi-Fi bands are used for downlink data, and all other traffic, such as signaling, is ‘anchored’ on licensed spectrum. The 5Ghz unlicensed Read More
Posted on April 11, 2014
ANDSF (The Access network discovery and selection function) has been around for a while now—ever since 3GPP Release 8. ANDSF allows a mobile network operator to define policies on how “non-3GPP” networks are accessed. (In reality, non-3GPP means Wi-Fi.) It defines three groups of information that can be sent to a handset: Inter-system mobility policy Read More
Posted on March 7, 2014
Wi-Fi—and its Carrier Wi-Fi subset—has become a critical component of mobile network operator strategy. Carrier Wi-Fi has undergone several redefinitions, but the next generation vision focuses on Hotspot 2.0, also known as “Passpoint.” Theoretically, Hotspot 2.0 provides a seamless connection experience for smartphones by utilizing the SIM card for authentication and leveraging 802.11u to advertise Read More
Popwifi Community Manager
Posted on February 21, 2014
Devicescape is excited to showcase it’s engagement services at Mobile World Congress 2014. Accessed through any of the over 20 million hotspots that make up Devicescape’s CVN, Popwifi aims to better connect individuals with the places they frequent most and gives them the ability to share what they love about a particular place with anyone Read More
Chief Marketing Officer
Posted on January 26, 2014
A recent trip to Europe saw us in Bucharest for a Curated Spot Check. If you’ve seen earlier posts, you’ll know this is our way of doing an on-the-ground Wi-Fi assessment of our crowd-sourced curated Wi-Fi service. It involves field measurements, primary research, and data analysis of the Wi-Fi environment, so we can fine tune Read More
Chief Technology Officer
Posted on December 9, 2013
Devicescape’s stats are in for the Black Friday and Thanksgiving week, and once again our users benefitted from high performance Wi-Fi connections in many top retail establishments while shopping for bargains. The numbers show big increases in Black Friday foot traffic at many U.S. merchants compared to normal levels. First, a quick note about the Read More
Chief Executive Officer
Posted on December 3, 2013
Two common themes about publicly available Wi-Fi circulate constantly in the press: security (for users), and abuse (by users). I find these issues fascinating because they position users at opposite ends of the spectrum. There’s the hapless user whose secrets are being stolen, and there’s the terrorist/ identity thief whose using free (and supposedly anonymous) Read More
Chief Executive Officer
Posted on November 6, 2013
Recently I had the chance to talk to Light Reading’s Dan Jones about the changes taking place in amenity Wi-Fi. Dan had written previously about the Facebook/Cisco collaboration to offer stores a solution for free Wi-Fi, whereby consumers “sign in” with their Facebook credentials. He’d also written an interesting article after our conversation (which you Read More