In 2015, Current Analysis surveyed 100 decision makers at network operators regarding challenges facing network deployments, what they need most from their vendors, and which suppliers they view most favorably.
Although a key focus of vendor messaging in 2015 was helping operators to operationalize SDN/NFV, operators are facing more fundamental questions standing in the way of their decision to fully embrace network virtualization: uncertain ROI.
When asked what one thing operators feel the SDN/NFV supplier community is not adequately addressing, VNF performance dominated the responses. A word cloud below summarizes the key responses, with the size of each word corresponding to the frequency in which they appeared in the response results.
Cisco and Huawei have topped SDN/NFV vendor perception results for the past several years. However, IT-oriented suppliers – namely HP and IBM – made up considerable ground in 2015, now ranking closely behind Cisco and Huawei as top perceived SDN/NFV suppliers.
Ericsson also made a considerable jump in perception to round out the ‘Top 5’ in terms of best perceived vendors in the survey.
In 2015, SDN and NFV continued to dominate our “most read reports” list, with 5G gaining interest as well.
Beyond specific technologies, major vendor moves – partnerships and acquisitions – garnered plenty of attention.
Ignoring smaller vendors or less buzzed-about technologies could be dangerous if it leaves vendors and service providers exposed to disruptive market forces.
In an attempt to provide insight into a wide array of telecom network trends and technologies, it’s only natural that some of our analyses will be better read than others. That attention may be due to any number of factors, but interest in the topic is generally the most important driver. In other words, reports about topics that people care about should be the most read, with the top analyses of 2015 pointing to the most important trends and themes of the year. Continue reading “What Was Hot in 2015: The Technologies, Topics, and Events You Cared About”→
C-RAN’s adoption is likely to grow significantly soon, thanks in part to evolutions in the underlying technologies.
Long term, future RANs will see a dynamic mix of centralized and distributed functions.
In 2016, we’re likely to hear even more about C-RAN than we already have. It’s not a new concept, and plenty of operators have deployed mobile access network architectures in which the baseband processing units are centralized, stacked or pooled, linked to remote radio units elsewhere. As portions of the network become increasingly virtualized, baseband processing will become virtualized, too – thus, centralized RAN will evolve into cloud RAN. This won’t happen everywhere, of course, but its use is likely to spread thanks in part to some significant advancements in C-RAN technology coming soon. Continue reading “C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud”→
The ETSI NFV MANO model currently suffers from too rigid functional decomposition and too light interface definition; however, there’s plenty of innovation around to help.
Vendors shouldn’t be naïve in claiming vIMS multi-vendor interoperability based solely on 3GPP conformance; NFV introduces a very challenging vertical dimension.
One of the main takeaways from our coverage of TM Forum Live! 2015 in sunny Nice earlier this month was around the (im)maturity of the ETSI NFV MANO stack. In short, the ETSI MANO model has been described as having “boxes which are too thick” (defining some functions and omitting others) and “interfaces which are too thin” (lack of implementable interfaces to support multivendor interworking). Continue reading “TM Forum Live! 2015: NFV MANO ‘Thick Lines and Thin Interfaces’”→
Alcatel-Lucent’s 300 million-DSL port shipment benchmark highlights the company’s long-time commitment to the wireline broadband market, including multiple evolutions of DSL that have led to groundbreaking technologies such as VDSL vectoring, Vplus and G.fast.
While this achievement is worthy of celebration, Alcatel-Lucent will continue to leverage its extensive product R&D resources, including Bell Laboratories, to develop and deliver even more powerful, higher-speed wireline access technologies to address evolving operator service imperatives such as 4KTV.
There’s been a lot made of the ‘maker movement’ over the past few years. Combining technology and a do-it-yourself ethos, ‘Maker Faires’ have popped up all over the world, fueled by advancements in software development, robotics, and 3D printing. For anyone upset by rampant consumerism, the maker economy is a cause for hope.
Given the difference in duplexing and regional agendas, it’s easy to see TDD and FDD versions of LTE as distinct; in reality, they’re part of a unified standard.
It’s also tempting to see LTE TDD as disadvantaged by the history of WiMAX or operator interests in FDD spectrum; again, this isn’t a fair way of looking at the technology.
Back in June, I promised to spend some time this summer (and maybe even into the fall) talking about LTE TDD. That started with a discussion of how massive deployments in the People’s Republic could lead one to think of LTE TDD as a Chinese technology, a notion that runs counter to any interests in seeing LTE’s TDD variant benefit from global manufacturing and R&D scale. A look back at the development of LTE standards backed up the notion that, from its inception, TDD was envisioned as an integral part of LTE, not a narrow, regional use case.
As a part of the Shift Plan, Alcatel-Lucent has inked an agreement to outsource some 2G/3G R&D along with related technical support, design, development and testing operations.
As mature technologies, the move should not concern most of the vendor’s customers. However, as 3G continues to evolve – particularly around Alcatel-Lucent’s focus on small cells – operators must make sure the outsourcing scheme still results in solid products.
Predictions that EPC would be one of the first and most important NFV applications ring true; this month alone, we have seen not only technology/product announcements, but also POCs and even initial deployments.
Vendor opportunity appears to be wide open for both small and larger, well-established suppliers; given the software content, non-hardware vendors now have a chance to penetrate this early adopter market.
Now that the reality of virtualized network functions such as the mobile core and CPE is beginning to transition from the discussion and concept stage into proof of concept (PoC) and initial deployment in support of new operator service models, how will the vendor community be impacted from a profit and competitive perspective? June is shaping up to be a watershed month for virtual EPC (vEPC) announcements which point out that the mobile core is indeed one of the initial network functions to become fully virtualized and staged for deployment. A key observation is that not all of the announcements have come from traditional network suppliers, leaving no doubt that the market will become more crowded as startups and IT players join the traditional mobile core players. What seems clear is that the new vEPC model can help operators; what is somewhat less clear is how the new and existing suppliers will turn this market transition into profitable product sales – which are for the most part software-based. Continue reading “Virtual EPCs Arrive Much Sooner Than Many Have Expected – But Where Is the Revenue?”→
If I can believe my desk calendar, it’s almost summer. With the longest day of the year fast approaching, my mind has turned to all of the usual topics: fireworks, hot dogs, bitter jealousy aimed at European colleagues who take four-week vacations, LTE TDD.
Okay, summertime and LTE TDD might not go hand-in-hand, but there are some real reasons the TDD implementation of everyone’s favorite 4G technology has been on my mind. Earlier this month, I spent some time with my consumer analysts out in Kansas City visiting Sprint; with LTE TDD at the foundation of Sprint Spark, you know the technology was a major component of the discussions with them. This week, I’m sending some of my team to Shanghai in order to catch up with our friends at ZTE. Along with Huawei (which we visited in April), ZTE is expected to benefit significantly from LTE TDD deployments in China over the next year or so; the two vendors won the lion’s share of China Mobile’s LTE TDD awards. This was long-expected and the scale won in supplying these networks is expected to benefit them, particularly if the other Chinese mobile operators follow suit.