The idea behind Liquid Net is that operators will be able to design their networks so that unused capacity can be allocated wherever and whenever it is needed. This is enabled by applying "automated, self-adapting broadband optimization" in the core network and by channeling traffic along the most economical paths in the transport network.
Much like NSN's Liquid Radio architecture for base stations -- in which the baseband processors are separated from the radio frequency element and active antennas and then located remotely in a baseband pool setup -- Liquid Core and Liquid Transport also feature flexible capacity allocation and traffic routing. (See CTIA 2011: NSN Makes Liquid Radio Splash .)
The essence of Liquid Core is a commercial, off-the-shelf AdvancedTCA (ATCA) hardware platform, on which can be installed any core network application, such as gateways, mobile switching center (MSS) or home location register (HLR). And with NSN's intelligent broadband management, content can be cached and adapted so that it is delivered in the best way at the right time, depending on what kind of device it is going to.
Liquid Transport comprises NSN's flexible optics, multilayer optimization and intelligent control capabilities.
"[We have] clever capabilities to make the network adapt to the content," says Phil Twist, head of marketing and communications for network systems at NSN. "Operators can build to average traffic [loads], not peak capacity."
NSN will be showing off its Liquid Net capabilities at next week's Broadband World Forum show in Paris.
Why this matters
By pulling together some fundamental elements it's already got, NSN is joining the trend towards a flexible core network. It's a direction taken by other big mobile core vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , according to Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown.
"An EPC-based common core network is where the industry is going," he says. "What NSN appears to be attempting with Liquid Net is to create a marketing wrapper around the concept that matches what it is doing in the RAN with Liquid Radio. It's part of an effort to communicate a consistent, strategic direction."
For more on NSN's Liquid Radio and the changes in mobile network architectures, check out these stories:
- NSN Adds to Liquid Radio
- AlcaLu's lightRadio Set for Early 2012 Debut
- AlcaLu: We're Killing the Base Station
- The Lowdown on lightRadio
- Ericsson's Small Cells Come Up for AIR
- MWC 2011: The End of the RAN as We Know It?
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile