Packet core

Affirmed Gets on the Virtual Road With Vodafone

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2016 -- Vodafone is getting on the road with Affirmed Networks, in what is one of the startup's most important virtual networking deals yet.

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) is using Affirmed Networks Inc. 's virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) to support connected car and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in Brazil, Germany, Spain and the US. A vEPC takes the standard 4G LTE packet core hardware gateway functions -- tracking user mobility on the network, maintaining wireless data connections, and more -- and runs it via software on Intel X86-based servers. (See Vodafone Uses Affirmed's NFV for M2M.)

Operators like Vodafone are moving to a vEPC architecture because such structure make it easier to deploy machine-to-machine Internet of Things (IoT) services without breaking the bank. IoT services are typically repeat revenue services, where many millions of devices each supply small amounts of incremental income.

This makes a software-based system using standard components more economical than custom hardware. "It's the same reason that everyone is moving to NFV," Hassan Ahmed told Light Reading.

IoT applications are often seen as a good first service to use to test new virtualized architectures as well, since they need to scale at the lowest possible cost. Vodafone is running the Affirmed software in its global core network which links with mobile partner networks across the globe. (See Vodafone to Ride T-Mobile Back Into US.)

Affirmed has also just inked a similar deal with Cubic Telecom from Ireland. Cubic has a connected car services deal with Audi and others.

All of which makes Affirmed the startup to watch in the vEPC space. The company says it now has 35 customers.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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