Sprint's Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer, technology, outlined how his company views NFV as an essential building block to the telco's development of its LTE Plus Network, Gigabit LTE and, eventually, 5G services in a company blog on Tuesday.
Ottendorfer wrote that Sprint has been working on building a new virtual core that will replace stand-alone, bare metal platforms with a single NFVi infrastructure that will host all of its Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and IP Multimedia Sub-Systems (IMS) platforms as VNFs.
Sprint's NFV OpenStack cloud development is the foundation of its network virtualization efforts, which will lead to new services for its customers. Sprint added several key vendors –Metaswitch and Mavenir-- in support of its NFV virtualization initiative.
"For NFV, Sprint is committed to deploying open-source software on standards-based hardware to provide a more flexible, innovative, and cost-effective network that can support the 5G requirements for super-high data speeds, ultra-low latency, automation, and mass connectivity required for IOT, Ultra HD video, AR-VR, and edge computing," Ottendorfer wrote in his blog.
Sprint is using Metaswitch for its session border controller, breakout gateway control function and call session control function while Mavenir is handling the telephony application service, media resource function and policy diameter routing agent functions.
The latest additions to Sprint's vendor ecosystem builds upon its recent announcement of C3PO, which is Sprint's open source NFV and SDN-based mobile core reference platform.
Ottendorfer wrote that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) was taking a multi-pronged approach to address the operational and technological components of NFV. On the cultural transformation side, Sprint has prepped its technology teams for virtualization through a series of internal "Open Day" meetings.
Two years ago, Sprint started to create and deploy a common infrastructure in more than 30 data centers across its network, which Ottendorfer said would be expanded as needed in the future to fuel Sprint's "cap and grow" approach to commercializing NFV. Sprint will cap its expansion on legacy core network hardware while creating new functionality and capacity on its virtualized platform.
Sprint began virtualizing its messaging platforms in its networks over the past two years. It has started moving multimedia messaging service and SMS functions over to its new NFV platform.
"As of today, 100% of IP Short Message (IPSM) traffic has been virtualized," according to Ottendorfer. "In fact, during the first half of 2017 Sprint was tied for No. 1 in text messaging due in large part to IPSM supporting IP based text messaging over LTE. In addition, we are currently migrating SMS traffic to NFV. 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."
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation