Mainstreaming of VoLTE, VoWiFi, LTE-A
Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific, Sonus Networks
015 was an exciting year in the telecommunications industry and we also saw 5G creating a lot of hype. It received more media coverage and industry buzz than any other technology.
Experts explain that it will deliver faster mobile data rates, broader wireless coverage, more efficient signaling and lower latency. However, the consensus is that 5G will reach mainstream adoption closer to 2020.
Instead of waiting till then, in 2016 we expect to see the mainstream adoption of initiatives such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).
If we look at VoLTE, the business case for operators is simple. It reduces cost for operators by enabling voice, video, and data to run over a common IP infrastructure and provides them with the ability to re-farm 3G spectrum for LTE expansion.
This, in turn, benefits today’s mobile worker by improving the overall quality of experience, delivering high-definition voice and providing the ability to run voice, video and data applications concurrently on the same handset.
VoWiFi, similarly, delivers operators with increased coverage and capacity, optimized network access and the ability to extend services easily to Wi-Fi. This technology provides today’s mobile worker with simple, secure unrestricted connectivity and mobility between Wi-Fi and cellular IP networks, even outside of LTE coverage.
At the same time, over the past year terms like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Software-Defined Networking (SDN), and Cloud networking were exemplified as important industry trends and we will see these ramping-up in 2016.
Although we continue to see NFV outpace the notion of SDN, in 2016 SDN strategies will become increasingly prevalent.
In the past, network infrastructures have been static and the idea of migrating to an all software-defined network, although full of promise, has been a scary proposition to many organizations, often viewed as “too much to handle.
However, we’ve seen an influx of SDN solutions that don’t require the re-architecting of a network by replacing every router with a white box switch.
Essentially, instead of creating entirely new network architecture, companies are delivering SDN solutions to drive network value, while customers develop their strategy and migrate to a core SDN-infrastructure.
These solutions enable new business models, such as Network-as-a-Service, where service providers are able to put a layer of automation on top of their network infrastructure, allowing them to configure the network how they want to use it, when they want to use it, and dynamically partitions it to provide enterprises with benefits such as data center interconnectivity.
As NFV and the ever-growing transition to the cloud continue to gain popularity in 2016, the next logical evolution of the cloud infrastructure is the expansion of the service provider’s virtual edge all the way to the enterprise premise.
Traditionally, when a service provider sold network functions to an enterprise, such as a Session Border Controller (SBC), they supplied them with customer premise equipment (CPE) and required someone to go on-site, turn-up and deploy the application.
Now that the industry has finally reached a point where a large set of applications that were previously tied to proprietary hardware can now be run on generic commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing hardware, service providers have new business opportunities.
With this transition, service providers can now bring their “virtual” Cloud infrastructure to the enterprise premise. Now, CPE is becoming virtualized and applications are being managed by the service provider from its core cloud infrastructure.