Light Reading

Sprint Eyes SDN to Re-Craft Its Core

Sarah Thomas
3/5/2014
50%
50%

CHICAGO -- SDN and NFV are the flavors of the month right now, according to Sprint's chief technology officer, but the network man sees both technologies as a way to re-create its core -- someday, at least.

Stephen Bye, CTO and SVP of Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), told Light Reading this during the Q&A session of a panel the operator held in Chicago on Tuesday. While acknowledging that both software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are hyped right now, he said they are a serious development for the wireless industry.

"For us, it represents an opportunity to re-architect how we do the core network and how we think about it," Bye said. "It's really bringing some of the more evolved software practices into a telco infrastructure that over time hasn’t kept up with how technology is going from a software perspective. It's not a question of if, it's a questions of timing and how we evolve to that."

That timing may come down to when the technologies are more standardized. Bye said Sprint is working with its new parent, SoftBank Corp. , as well as operators across the globe on standardization to help drive down costs. He said there's a lot of work going on around SDN, giving a nod to Sprint partner and fellow panelist Nokia Networks VP Bill Payne, who added that NSN is on the front-end of both SDN and NFV.

Bye and Payne were joined on the panel by Brian Berner, regional VP of Spotify , and Yankee Group Research Inc. analyst Rich Karpinski. The discussion covered a range of topics from network evolution to mobile entertainment to attracting more budding engineers. (See Sprint Accelerator: Changing Carrier DNA.)

Click on the image below for a few snaps from the event in downtown Chicago.

Sparking a Panel Discussion
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sandra Guy lobs questions at Sprint CTO Stephen Bye, NSN VP Bill Payne, Spotify VP Brian Berner, and Yankee Group analyst Rich Karpinski.
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sandra Guy lobs questions at Sprint CTO Stephen Bye, NSN VP Bill Payne, Spotify VP Brian Berner, and Yankee Group analyst Rich Karpinski.

One thing Sprint is (still) working on today is evolving its wireless network through Network Vision and filling in the gaps in its LTE network. Sprint has said in the past that it will fire up an LTE market when it at least has "street-level coverage," but Bye said his priority today is covering entire markets with Spark, which spans three frequency bands -- 800 Mhz for indoor coverage, 1,900 MHz, and 2.5 Ghz, its "workhorse in terms of capacity and speed." (See When is a 4G LTE Market Really Covered, Anyway?, Sprint Sparks It in Chicago, and Sprint Sparks Up Vendors for Faster 4G LTE.)

"Coverage is not about isolated pockets, but creating a ubiquitous experience," Bye said. "We are working on three cell sites a day, adding capacity and speed to that infrastructure."

That includes deploying small cells where needed, both indoors and out. NSN's Payne added that small cells address high-density local traffic, and the key for the vendor in deploying them is to build equipment that can accommodate quick capacity upgrades when needed. (See Sprint Plans Indoor, Outdoor Small Cells in 2014.)

Interestingly, Bye said it wasn't the cost of equipment that is the biggest hindrance to Sprint's ambitious network build; it's the cost of working with a city like Chicago. (See WiFi: Small Cells' Trojan Horse? and Small Cells in the City .)

"When we look at the infrastructure investment we make, we deploy hundreds of cell sites. Equipment is a small part of the cost. It's construction, zoning, permitting that creates the long time frame to build and takes up the most investment. No one wants a big cell tower. It's not really about the equipment. It's all the infrastructure and labor around it. We are spending billions per year building out infrastructure."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Dave @ TMFORUM (Tectonics)
50%
50%
Dave @ TMFORUM (Tectonics),
User Rank: Light Beer
3/7/2014 | 6:06:43 AM
Operationalization the key to the future of SDN nd NFV
Hype cycles are certainly real but driven by opinions of the future rather than what is being delivered.

NFV and SDN as being practiced display unusual characteristics:

  • Both promise cost saving and improvements in service agility;

  • Both are starting with practical implementations to drive standardisation which allows the potential operational benefits to be assessed practically in advance of firm standards.

Such characteristics encourage the investigation of operational aspects of these technologies earlier in their lifecycle than hitherto.

Operationalization requires organizations to tackle both the traditional OSS BSS integration with technology, and the logistics of deployment as mentioned by the panellists. Addressing Operational Readiness within an organization covers aspects such as Procurement and acceptance processes, operational practices and workforce skill transformation. Notable the move to software based networking will enable a move to a DevOps operation model more akin to Enterprise Data Center operations which has demonstrable lower cost and higher agility .

An early focus on implementation enables organizations to address practically these important operationalization aspects early in the technology lifecycle, and allows concurrent investigation of the technology and the business impacts arising arising from operationalization.

Those involved with the TM Forum ZOOM program will be aware that we are laser focussed on operationalization of NFV  based on early prototyping and a 360 degree view of impacts on Service Providers. These will  transform lab prototypes into operational monetized business propositions.

Service agility is about bringing both the technology and organization's capability together at the same time and dramatically shortening the timescales of both. Cleary these points need to be got over to our government colleagues if their practices and process turn out to be the 'long pole in the tent' that delays delivery of benefits to citizens.
@mbushong
50%
50%
@mbushong,
User Rank: Moderator
3/6/2014 | 10:31:56 AM
Re: class dismissed
We also need to understand that moving first is still going to be a relatively small step. SDN needs to get into real world deployments that go beyond small test environments. This is the only way to figure out the real operational side of things - monitoring, troubleshooting, analytics, capacity planning, maintenance and failure implications, change control, and other operational considerations. 

Keep in mind that most of the carriers are expecting to use open source for their point of control. OpenDaylight is absolutely promising, but its first release is just over 4 weeks old. Meaningful deployments will take time. 

I do think it's interesting that folks on the customer side are starting to lean into the hype. This is exciting as it might compress the early deploy-iterate-redeploy cycle.

Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

Plexxi
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/6/2014 | 10:30:09 AM
Re: class dismissed
True, but sometimes there are benefits to not be the first mover. Verizon had such an advantage in being first with LTE, it seemed, but then it didn't really matter now that AT&T has caught up. Not saying that Sprint has the best network strategy (ha), but wait and see might not be a bad approach given where it's at now.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 12:33:56 AM
Re: class dismissed
While Sprint is talking about SDN, AT&T is far along in planning and NTT in implementation. And I wonder whether cloud providers like Microsoft will end up competing with service providers to supply enterprise virtual networks.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/6/2014 | 12:32:43 AM
Re: class dismissed
The problem with the hype cycle is that the trough of disillusionment becomes a trap for self-delusion.
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/5/2014 | 2:39:01 PM
Re: class dismissed
I don't know if the interest, or even the hype, is gone, a lot of telcos just aren't willing to be first movers. Sprint has been the most quiet about it in the US, probably because it has its hands full with its other network issues.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 2:31:30 PM
Re: class dismissed
We use something internally we call Interest Maps. It looks a little like the hype wave but is less sophisticated (probably because I came up with it during an especially pointless staff meeting under the old regime). All these things do go through predictable phases, but it seems like the cycle times are condensing quite a bit. Back in the good old days (like four years ago), the initial upward curve would last a year or more. Now we're down to a few months.
brookseven
50%
50%
brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 2:23:56 PM
Re: class dismissed
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hype_cycle

I think we are just riding the wave!

seven

 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/5/2014 | 2:16:30 PM
class dismissed
So the experts who are already relegating SDN to the "what was" pile are being ... prematurely dismissive?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Against the odds, Huawei is growing its telecoms networking equipment business in the US -- that should be ringing some alarm bells for domestic vendors.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Nominum on Leveraging the Power of DNS to Deliver Superior Subscriber Experiences

9|2|15   |   07:13   |   (0) comments


Nominum CEO Gary Messiana talks about the challenges service providers face in competing for a much more sophisticated customer, a customer that has heightened expectations for more personalized and compelling digital experiences. Providers are focusing their efforts on delivering higher value subscriber services, retaining their existing customers and increasing ...
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Jeff Miller, ActiveVideo

8|28|15   |   19:05   |   (0) comments


Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Vodafone: Mobile Money Is About Customer Trust

8|27|15   |   06.36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading spoke with Vodafone's Ian Ravenscroft about the unique responsibilities and opportunities facing operators handling customers' financial transactions over the network.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Palo Alto Networks on Expanding in the Carrier/Service Provider Market

8|26|15   |   07:54   |   (0) comments


Alfred Lee from Palo Alto Networks tells Steve Saunders about their new chassis-based system, the PA-7080, and how it can benefit service providers compared to legacy firewalls.
LRTV Custom TV
Global Services Forum Preview

8|25|15   |   02:36   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders talks about Huawei's upcoming Global Services Forum with the help of Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan and Teresa Mastrangelo.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Infoblox on DNS Threat Index

8|19|15   |   04:39   |   (0) comments


Dilip Pillaipakam from Infoblox talks to Steve Saunders about his company's core network services.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat With Ihab Tarazi, Equinix

8|14|15   |   20:18   |   (1) comment


Equinix CTO Ihab Tarazi talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the dramatic changes in the data center, cloud and interconnect markets and discusses the impact of SDN and NFV in the coming years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
The Netformx Ecosystem

8|14|15   |   09:39   |   (1) comment


Ittai Bareket, CEO of Netformx, talks with Steve Saunders about the Netformx Ecosystem, which employs cutting-edge prescriptive analytics to help solution providers maximize profits.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks on Leveraging VNFs

8|12|15   |   07:37   |   (0) comments


Kumar Mehta, founder and CEO of stealth mode startup Versa Networks, talks with Steve Saunders about how providers can best leverage virtualized network functions (VNFs).
LRTV Custom TV
Transforming the Network Through OPNFV

8|5|15   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Sandra Rivera, VP Data Center Group; GM Network Platforms Group, Intel Corporation, on OPNFV Arno and how the industry is coming together to accelerate the deployment of NFV and transform the network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei ONS Product Demo

8|3|15   |   6:01   |   (0) comments


Huawei shows at Open Networking Summit 2015 in Santa Clara how its SDN and NFV solutions embrace openness.
LRTV Custom TV
End-User or Enterprise Benefits to the New IP

7|30|15   |   04:27   |   (1) comment


Andrew Coward discusses what the New IP means to end users or enterprise customers. He explains compelling reasons, including how every customer can get their own network, from the transformation to the New IP.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 16, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Cisco's cloud and virtualization portfolio can increase business agility and innovation by building a more flexible network architecture.
Hot Topics
T-Mobile CEO Plays Data Traffic Cop
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 8/31/2015
CEO Chat With Bill Gates
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 8/31/2015
Time to Monetize Cable WiFi
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 8/31/2015
New Apple TV: More $$, Not Content – Report
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/31/2015
Ex-AlcaLu Boss Tasked With Bolstering Altice
Iain Morris, News Editor, 9/1/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
September 16, 2015
Wi-Fi First or Second?
September 22, 2015
Media Begins With “Me”
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
The scene: Last Saturday, lunchtime, the interior of a shi-shi-foo-foo eatery in Manhattan's SoHo district.
Jeff Miller, President and CEO of ActiveVideo, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the impact of virtualization on the TV and video distribution market.
Cats with Phones
Tastes Like Fish Click Here
Please hold while I lick the phone.