In 2012 a group of operators kicked off the network functions virtualization (NFV) movement with an NFV introductory white paper. The paper coalesced interested operators and helped propel the NFV movement much faster than anyone expected. Now, some of those same operators, along with new entrants, have penned a white paper entitled “Network Operator Perspectives on NFV priorities for 5G.”
The 22 network operator co-authors of the new 5G white paper include an interesting assortment of both fixed and mobile providers. Those include Bell Canada, Rogers, CenturyLink, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, NTT, NTT Docomo, Orange, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telefonica, and Vodafone to name a few.
Notably, neither Verizon nor AT&T participated in the new 5G white paper, although they did have representatives who participated in the original NFV white paper.
“We believe the evolved 5G network will be characterized by agile, resilient converged fixed/mobile networks based on NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies,” wrote Tetsuya Nakamura in a blog. Nakamura is a principal architect at CableLabs, and he acted as managing editor for the white paper.
In fact, the “convergence” of fixed and mobile networks is looking like more than just a buzzword. The Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) open source group, in particular, has gained steam with operators. And the Mobile CORD (M-CORD) off-shoot project is using the same concepts of generic off-the-shelf equipment, running open source software as its parent group CORD. It’s beginning to look like the end game is that both fixed and mobile networks, including 5G, will run out of similar-looking data centers.
Both AT&T and Verizon are involved with CORD.
The operators that participated in this NFV/5G white paper want to make sure that standards organizations and open source communities incorporate NFV principals into 5G architectures and avoid wasteful duplication of effort.
“An important message is to encourage reference to the extensive body of foundational NFV specification work already published by the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group over the past four years as the basis for 5G,” wrote Nakamura.
Some of the topics covered in the new white paper include cloud-native network functions, radio access network (RAN) cloudification, edge computing, and network slicing.
Asked what he thought was most important in the 5G white paper, Nakamura said, “Cloud-native is most important.”