SAN JOSE, California —Although it’s not May 4, the annual day of celebration to honor the iconic “Star Wars” movie, it still seems fitting to talk about Sprint’s new open source project, called C3PO. Last week at the 2017 NFV World Congress, Sprint revealed it’s working with Intel on the open source project the companies believe will result in a more flexible and scalable 5G control plane. C3PO stands for CUPS [control and user plane separation] for packet optimization.
Details of the project and how the company plans to use it are still unclear. A Sprint spokeswoman said that the company is planning to reveal more details about the open source project in the coming days.
Lyle Bertz, principal NFV/SDN architect at Sprint, said that the project came about after Sprint became concerned about the ability of the user plane to scale and handle the increased functionality necessary for a 5G network. “In five years will the user plane function do everything and bear the weight of the bits and bytes?” he asked.
The project combines Intel software code with Sprint’s software code and extensions. It uses a software-defined networking (SDN)-based architecture but has independent control and data scaling.
The goal of the project is to create an SDN-based virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) that can handle a bigger subscriber load without impacting speed. So far, early results for C3PO indicate that the project will enable operators to increase their subscriber load on the network with minimal impact on the packet processing speed. For example, network scaling tests indicate that one packet processing core can handle 2.125 million packets per second for 50,000 subscribers or 1.625 million packets per second for 500,000 subscribers.
Sprint so far has been fairly quiet about its plans for SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV). The company did join the Open Network Foundation’s Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD) project last month. And at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, Sprint CTO John Saw said that the company will talk more about its network virtualization plans later this year, but it won’t do what competitor AT&T has done and reveal what percentage of its network is virtualized.