TM Forum Live! 2015: NFV MANO ‘Thick Lines and Thin Interfaces’

David Snow
David Snow

Summary Bullets:

  • 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’”

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. Continue reading “MWC 2015: Virtual EPC Startups Snagged by the Big Guys, Filling Gaps in Portfolios”

The Maker Network: The Potential and Perils of Building Block Marketing

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

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.

But, does it have any place in a telco network?

On some level, the answer has always been ‘yes.’ Vendors and carriers alike pull together network solutions from disparate components and disparate suppliers. Yet, recent messaging from vendors suggests that we’ll see a good deal of maker-ism injected into Mobile World Congress this year. Consider a few of the launches that have already taken place. Continue reading “The Maker Network: The Potential and Perils of Building Block Marketing”

LTE TDD: Everything You Always Wanted to Know…and Weren’t Afraid to Ask

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • 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.

So, where does this leave us as the summer slowly grinds to a halt? Continue reading “LTE TDD: Everything You Always Wanted to Know…and Weren’t Afraid to Ask”

Virtual EPCs Arrive Much Sooner Than Many Have Expected – But Where Is the Revenue?

Glenn Hunt
Glenn Hunt

Summary Bullets:

  • 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?”

LTE TDD: Driving the Universal Nature of LTE – Whether That’s Understood or Not

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

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.

You can see why I’ve been thinking about the technology, right? Great. Then let me throw in another wrinkle. Continue reading “LTE TDD: Driving the Universal Nature of LTE – Whether That’s Understood or Not”

Can Operators Invest in Network Quality to Improve Top Line Performance?

Jason Marcheck
Jason Marcheck

Seemingly for years now, we’ve heard telecom network equipment vendors talk about the need for CSPs to counteract the trend of falling revenue per bit metrics. Like modern day ‘Ghosts of Christmas Future,’ these warnings are accompanied by menacing infographics with scary-sounding names like ‘the scissor chart.’ These charts feature jagged lines depicting an (as yet undefined) point in time where delivering data services becomes a resource-draining burden, rather than a twenty-first century business opportunity.

The problem with these prognostications is that rarely have they been accompanied by concrete plans or solutions which will help operators to solve their problems. Sure, there has been the standard acknowledgment of the ‘network as a differentiator’ and some vague notion of partnering with OTTs, but that is a far cry from putting forth actionable plans that detail how to deal with the chart below. Continue reading “Can Operators Invest in Network Quality to Improve Top Line Performance?”