Sprint Builds Out Virtualization Plans

Sprint has laid out its NFV strategy with a new virtualized core and new vendors Metaswitch and Mavenir, as the operator looks to scale and add services as its 4G network evolves through Gigabit LTE into 5G.

To do this, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) technology COO GŁnther Ottendorfer writes in a blog, the operator has been building out a virtual core, replacing standalone platforms with a single network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) on which all of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and IP Multimedia Sub-System (IMS) platforms reside as virtualized network functions (VNFs).

Ottendorfer writes that Sprint will add new vendors to add in this virtualized push:

    With this next step for NFV, Sprint is extending its existing vendor ecosystem with the introduction of new, agile, innovative, and smaller players. Sprint is using new providers in many areas starting with the SBC (Session Border Controller), the Call Session Control Function (CSCF), and the Telephony Application Server (TAS) functionality. Our providers are Metaswitch for the SBC, CSCF, and the Breakout Gateway Control Function (BGCF) as well as Mavenir for the TAS, Media Resource Function (MRF), and policy Diameter Routing Agent (pDRA). Virtualizing the EPC and IMS onto a single NFVI will enable Sprint to scale the core up or down dynamically to support new 5G services, depending upon demand.

The work is based on Sprint's open source virtualized mobile core reference design, dubbed C3PO, unveiled this year in May. C3PO stands for "Clean CUPS Core for Packet Optimization -- CUPS: Control & User Plane Separation." (See Sprint Launches C3PO Open Source Project for the Packet Core.)

The operator has been working on virtualizing text and multimedia messaging traffic as one of its first orders of business. "SMS will be fully virtualized by the end of 2017 and we will deploy the MMS VNF onto the virtual platform during the first half of 2018," Ottendorfer writes.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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