MWC13 Hot Network Techs: NEC

At Mobile World Congress, which single network technology development did NEC most want to discuss?

March 11, 2013

3 Min Read
MWC13 Hot Network Techs: NEC

What is the single most important network technology development for mobile network operators in 2013?That's the question we put to seven major vendors at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, giving each of them just 10 minutes to outline their choice and explain why it's so important. We visited Ericsson AB first – it focused on mobile small cells. (See MWC 2013 Hot Network Techs: Ericsson Next up was NEC Corp.We have included NEC in our annual MWC booth tours for a few years and the company, given its technology heritage, has often focused more on Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) developments than the other equipment vendors.Now, with IP-centric 4G networks up and running, the boundaries between traditional telecom infrastructure and IT are becoming very blurred: Would that bring NEC more in line with the pitches from the more telecom-centric global vendors? Continue to page 2 of this article to check out NEC's pitch. nec


NEC had built its own enclave in Hall 3, with the 'Connected City' nestling just behind. NEC: The virtual packet core
The NEC team decided to focus on one of the telecom networking sector's current hottest topics -- network functions virtualization (NFV).In particular, K Jay Miyahara, corporate chief engineer at the vendor's Network Platform Operations Unit, wanted to talk about a development that NEC has been working on with Telefónica SA -- the virtual evolved packet core (EPC) for mobile networks. (See V Is for Virtualization.)Miyahara says NEC has taken EPC software and put it on a virtualized platform. That, he notes, is "straightforward." What's tough is to meet the reliability and capacity requirements of major operators, adds Miyahara, who believes NEC can lead the way in terms of NFV developments."The advantage we have over companies like Cisco Systems Inc. and IBM Corp. is that we have telecom networking background. And we don't think companies such as Ericsson AB and Alcatel-Lucent will be as aggressive as us because they already have an EPC product" that they won't want to cannibalize. The IT hardware underpinning NEC virtual EPC development is the Express5800 server loaded with hypervisor software. "We'll spend the next six months building up, testing and evaluating with Telefónica," which will have a lot of input into the metrics that need to be met. "But the requirements will not be unique to Telefónica," notes Miyahara.necnfv


Mobile core virtualization was just part of NEC's 'Carrier SDN' display. (Note, that is not K Jay Miyahara in the picture, but one of NEC's very helpful stand staff.)So why focus on the EPC? (See Packet Core Looks 'Ripe' for Virtualization.)Miyahara notes that smartphones have created an imbalance of control and data plane traffic that differs from the historical trends associated with circuit-switched environments, where control and data plane traffic increased at about the same rate. By separating the data and control planes and creating a virtual packet core, it will be easier and more efficient for operators to manage the variable increases in control plane traffic. "Virtual capacity increases will be possible without having to buy new blades," notes Miyahara. "It enables virtual MMEs [Mobility Management Entity, the control node at the heart of the EPC] to be created as needed," states the NEC man. "Our demonstration shows how control plane capacity can be increased as smartphones use up network resources," he adds. And so the 10 minutes were up. NEC had not only highlighted a key area of interest for mobile operators – the potential for virtualization techniques to deliver much needed operational efficiencies -- but was able to show how it is working closely with a major global telco and exploiting its combined IT and telecom heritage.NEC had a tough time when we visited its stand for our timed tour in 2012 (when it only managed a C- grade). This time was different: NEC achieves an "A" grade. — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like