MWC 2015: Virtual EPC Startups Snagged by the Big Guys, Filling Gaps in Portfolios

Glenn Hunt
Glenn Hunt

Summary Bullets:

  • Virtual EPC investments pay off for start-ups as major vendors open their wallets, filling portfolio gaps and strengthening their virtual network propositions.
  • Multiple vEPC wins add credibility and a level of completeness to the virtual networking solutions; customers bite and move on from PoCs and trials to commercial services.

This year’s Mobile World Congress is obviously the show to attend and at which to exhibit, and as we predicted, this is the year when the industry rapidly sets aside its safety blanket of trials and proofs of concept (PoCs) in favor of making serious commitments to virtualized solutions. Several announcements appear to demonstrate that vendors and operators have set aside pure PowerPoint and replaced it with checks from acquirers (for startups) and from operators (to vendors) for serious deployments.

On the acquisition front, two announcements were front and center the first day of MWC 2015, which garnered attention: Brocade announced its intent to acquire Connectem, and Mitel announced its intent to acquire Mavenir. On the customer front, we note at least three (there are others) announcements that clearly show mobile operators are ready and willing to commit to virtual mobile core solutions: operator XL Axiata added Cisco’s VPC to its live network; Japanese operator NTT DOCOMO selected Ericsson’s network virtualization, cloud management and virtualized EPC solution; and Telekom Austria Group selected Connectem’s Virtual Core for Mobile (VCM) for its network in Croatia.

The above progress has not been achieved without a significant level of due diligence as operators and vendors learned from past trials and PoCs. Also of importance is the breadth and depth of the portfolios; EPC alone is not adequate to deliver a quality end-to-end solution. In the case of vendors such as Cisco and Ericsson, their solutions include much of their own software, but in the case of the startups, operators often leverage an ecosystem of innovative vendors which can deliver additional functions, such as vIMS and vVoLTE, completing the solution. The trajectory of vEPC and related virtual network functions appears to be rising as the move toward virtualization become reality.

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