Intel's William Redmond (in blue) shows off the virtual EPC, which consists of little squares floating high above planet earth.
The EPC isn't the only area that NFV is targeting, though. A couple of companies at MWC talked up the potential of wireline virtualization. "The areas the operators are looking to virtualize first are the fixed-side broadband gateways," F5's Duggan said. Orange SA, for example, is considering putting vanilla equipment into the home. "They deploy a very dumb Layer 2 device into the home, and the customer's router and all that stuff sits in the cloud," Duggan says. Policy and mediation are other areas where carriers see virtualization potential -- as is the broadband remote access server (B-RAS), HP's Edlund said. "No one's deployed yet. I think they're very afraid, because B-RAS is a pretty complex piece of silicon" and carriers are chicken about messing with certain parts of the network that already work smoothly. (He didn't quite phrase it like that.) For all its potential, though, most of the discussion around virtualization is still just talk. "The conversations I'm having with the telcos are about things going into the innovation labs. It still feels very 'discovery,'" said Jason Needham, F5's director of product management. For more Light Reading