Telefónica will launch a network functions virtualization (NFV) trial in Brazil following the development of virtual home gateway functions with partner NEC.
This month, the operator says, it will test a customer premises equipment (CPE) prototype developed with NEC that "enables certain IP functions to be shifted away from the residential gateways (the equipment installed in the customer's home) towards the carrier's own network."
This means that certain home gateway capabilities -- including, in this instance, the IP routing (IPv4 and IPv6), the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol configuration functionality, the Network Address Translation functionality, and security features such as the firewall -- will not reside on the home gateway but be hosted centrally in the network. Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) said this can help speed up deployment times, improve network operations, and deliver maintenance benefits.
"We expect this pilot scheme will help us prove the viability of this technology and enable us to implement rollouts in a more flexible and reliable way coupled with low operating costs," Enrique Algaba, director of network innovation at the carrier's R&D unit, said in a press release.
Telefónica and NEC have been working together for some time on the potential for NFV and software-defined networking (SDN). This new approach, which the operator has dubbed the virtual CPE (vCPE), is part of a set of virtualized technologies the partners are jointly developing. (See: NEC, Telefónica Team on SDN and MWC13 Hot Network Techs: NEC.)
The rest of the telecom community will be watching this development closely. Many operators and their vendor partners are developing prototypes, test, and trials, but the community is waiting for real evidence of how virtual functions perform in production telecom networks. Telefónica will likely get plenty of questions from its peers about this development.
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— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading