& cplSiteName &

Heavy Reading: The Road to Virtual EPC

Dan Jones
4/17/2014
50%
50%

Heavy Reading expects that initial deployments of virtual EPC technology will start this year but is predicting that widespread deployments by the majority of mobile operators will take far longer to play out.

That is one of the key findings of "The Rise of Virtual EPC: A Mobile Packet Core Forecast & Analysis," a report by Heavy Reading senior analyst Gabriel Brown. Brown writes that all major vendors -- and several startups -- have virtual EPC product development underway, and several Tier 1 mobile operators have trialed early versions of the technology in anticipation of eventual widespread adoption of the technology.

He expects, however, that overall it will take time for typically conservative mobile operators to rip and replace such a crucial part of their network and replace it with a virtualized alternative that could promise opex benefits over time. "Virtual EPC needs to match the performance and reliability levels of 'classic' EPC solutions to be attractive as a complete core replacement," Brown writes.

What the EPC does
The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is crucial to the mobile network system architecture and the delivery of services to mobile subscribers. The EPC performs functions including subscriber tracking, mobility management, and session management in the network. It sits between the radio network (RAN) and the IP network.

The Evolved Packet Core
Source: Heavy Reading
Source: Heavy Reading

"Technically, the nature of EPC and the relatively modest traffic volumes in mobile networks make it suitable for virtualization, although this depends somewhat on the specific application and deployment model," Brown writes.

The Timing on EPC Virtualization
Brown expects to see some limited deployments of virtual EPC technology this year. He expects the first moves to happen with machine-to-machine (M2M) deployments and small enterprise setups, largely through experiments with network overlays.

"Typically, the virtual EPC would target less technically demanding use cases, such as M2M, which might have limited mobility, quality of service (QoS), and throughput requirements. The overlay approach offers operators an opportunity to experiment with the technology without putting critical services at risk."

A small group of "leading progressive operators" is aiming for "complete virtual EPC replacement by the end of 2016," Brown anticipates. These operators, however, are the exception rather the rule, and Brown believes that a widespread move to virtual EPC is likely to happen in the years after 2016.

"Many advanced operators -- the ones most likely to be interested in virtual EPC -- have only recently deployed new EPCs and do not expect to revisit that investment in the next few years," Brown notes. "The bulk of fast followers will therefore look to EPC transformation after 2016, and the majority of operators, later still."

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Federal Funds for Broadband? Unlikely
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/12/2018
Has Europe Switched to a Fiber Diet? Not Yet...
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/15/2018
Net Neutrality: States' Rights vs. the FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/13/2018
Will China React to Latest US Huawei, ZTE Slapdown?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/16/2018
IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/15/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed