Cloud Computing, Virtualization and Software Defined Networking - three sides of
the same coin - will soon bring the benefits of IT evolution to the mobile
broadband EPC. In the past, cellular networks were, by necessity, hierarchical
with centralized control and data structures. These architectures required high
performance, custom hardware to process, and route traffic. With distributed
architectures, the same total MIPS and Bandwidth apply, but it's more cost
effective to manage locally and meet the performance requirements of modern 4G
The advent of 4G and the shift from voice-centric to data dominant traffic
aligns well with a distributed and virtualized Evolved Packed Core (EPC). Using
the preferred Telecom term, Virtualization, the technology is gaining mindshare
and the initial building blocks are now at hand.
ABI Research expects virtualization of the EPC will move past the curiosity
and tire-kicking stage, and develop into a $400M market by 2018, representing
upto one-third of the overall EPC market.
Joe Hoffman, principal analyst for mobile networks comments, "Operators are
of course looking to displace the expensive Big Iron from their supply chain.
When the time is right, and the technology proven as low risk, operators will
capture additional benefits beyond the low-cost hardware, such as dynamic
allocation and reuse of virtualized assets and streamlined service and feature
Joe adds, "In this brave new world of SDN and virtualization, NSN has a
slight lead with their Liquid Core virtualized network using COTS hardware.
While most other vendors use proprietary hardware, there is a genuine push
towards SDN and separation of the control plane. In general 2013 should bring
more clarity on how different vendors will approach virtualization and SDN."
These findings are part of ABI Research's report, "Centralized vs.
Distributed EPC and the Role of SDN and Cloud". This is published as a part of
the Mobile Packet Core (
http://www.abiresearch.com/research/service/mobile-packet-core/ ) Research
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