The vendors said they worked with Verizon to create the first multivendor end-to-end 5G trial network by deploying pre-commercial 5G technology that is still waiting on standards approval. The deployment included a virtualized packet core as part of Cisco’s Ultra Services Platform and Advanced Services working with Samsung’s virtual radio access network (vRAN) product, 5G Radio base stations, and home routers.
The tests used specifications from Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum to support interworking between core network, radio edge, and user devices that the companies said “showcased a core principal of next-generation network virtualization via multivendor support.” Cisco and Samsung are part of a handful of vendors Verizon said it would be working with on the trials. The other vendors include Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and Apple.
Verizon’s work through its 5G Technology Forum, which the carrier initiated in mid-2016, was seen by some as an early push from the carrier to influence the standards-making process. The 5G standards in the U.S. are headed up by the 3GPP.
Verizon’s current pre-commercial 5G trials are set to begin in 11 markets by the middle of the year. Those trials will include fixed wireless services using several hundred cell sites covering several thousand customer locations.
Cisco and Samsung were also among the handful of vendors that helped to co-author Verizon’s SDN-NFV Reference Architecture document last year, which the carrier said at the time brought ETSI and Open Networking Foundation “lingo” into the a “Verizon world.” Other participants included Ericsson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Intel, Nokia, and Red Hat.
Cisco earlier this year said it does not expect commercial 5G networks to launch until 2020, though it expects those launches to quickly attract 25 million users within one year and generate 30 Gigabytes of data per month, nearly five times the amount of data generated by 4G connections in 2016.
NFV Agility to Boost 5G
Cisco recently released results of a survey of service providers that showed “agility” as the top driver for their NFV and SDN deployments. That need for agility was touted in a separate report by Technology Business Research as an important factor for launching new services as the market moves towards 5G deployments.
“An agile network with the ability to rapidly launch new services will become more important as the industry approaches 5G, which bears promise of a vibrant Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem with widespread IoT service offerings,” said TBR analyst Kate Price. “Future network requirements will include high bandwidth and low latency. While this transition is likely to begin closer to 2020, it is top of mind as operators plan the future of their networks.”