The company said the 5G mobile core is currently being tested by Tier 1 operators in North America and the Middle East, and it expects the technology to be commercially deployed this summer with a Tier 1 operator in the U.S.
Affirmed said its mobile core uses a web-scale architecture and supports automated provisioning across legacy, virtualized, and multi-vendor environments. It also supports network slicing and has integrated virtual probes that provide real-time intelligence and analytics.
According to Angela Whiteford, Affirmed Networks’ vice president of marketing and product management, the company’s 5G mobile core will give operators the ability to upgrade their networks to 5G while still running some 4G hardware. Whiteford said operators can use the Affirmed evolved packet core (EPC) to create a mobile slice and then use the steering function to steer traffic from the network to the new slice.
“If I’m running at capacity, I create a new slice and steer traffic to that new slice,” she said, adding that by using the company’s virtual probe the operator can also look at the analytics. If, for example, those users are all watching Netflix, the operator can then optimize the network for video.
“It’s very easy to spin up a new slice really quickly and steer the traffic to that slice,” Whiteford said.
Affirmed’s 5G mobile core also uses a core and user plane separation (CUPS) architecture to support high bandwidth, low latency applications and multi-access edge computing (MEC). According to Whiteford, that means that with certain applications like voice over LTE (VoLTE), the operator doesn’t have to worry about latency because with the user plane at the edge of the network, the operator doesn’t have to backhaul all of the traffic to a central location.
This isn’t the first time Affirmed has been touting the benefits of network slicing. In July the company said it had made it possible for operators to do network slicing on their 4G LTE networks without waiting for 5G. The company said its virtual slice selection function (vSSF) let operators steer traffic into slices over both legacy, virtualized, and multi-vendor networks.
Affirmed burst onto the telecom scene back in 2014 when AT&T selected the company to be part of its Domain 2.0 supplier program with the intent of helping AT&T develop an evolved packet core (EPC). The news was notable because Affirmed was selected over more traditional vendors like Cisco, Ericsson, or Alcatel-Lucent.
Today, Affirmed says more than 65 customers globally use the company’s network functions virtualization (NFV) platform.