SAN JOSE, California — Telefónica’s latest open source project, called OnLife Networks, tackles multi-access edge (MEC) computing and other 5G use cases not with network slicing, but with network “strings.”
During a keynote at this week’s NFV and Zero Touch World Congress, Patrick Lopez, VP of networks innovation at Telefónica, discussed what the service provider is doing with open source. It’s heavily involved in several projects including Open Source MANO (OSM), the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), KVM, DPDK, and the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD). One of its newer efforts is OnLife.
Lopez didn’t provide too many details about OnLife — he said Telefónica hasn’t officially launched it yet but probably will at Mobile World Congress 2019. But it’s essentially a CORD-based project that Telefónica will use as it MEC platform.
“OnLife Networks uses a lot of open-source components, software and hardware, deployed over an Open Compute [Project] architecture,” he said. “The idea here is that we believe there will be significant value in provisioning services on the edge of our networks.”
The platform will play a key role in Telefónica’s approach to 5G network slicing, which will let operators provide portions of their networks for specific customer uses cases. And network slicing, in turn, is key to making money from 5G services.
“Monetization is going to be difficult because we [operators] haven’t been very good at creating new services,” Lopez said. “We’ve been effective at creating the same services. To be more effective and attractive to our customers, we need to become a little more differentiated. That’s what slicing is about. But having three, four, five, 10 slices is not going to cut.”
Operators should stop thinking about slices and start considering “strings…. Many experiences for different segments of the population and also for different industries,” he said.
But that’s nearly impossible with today’s networks because it takes years, costs millions of dollars, and requires dozens of vendors. “And that’s not going to get us to having those hundreds of thousands of different slices: and that’s not going to be scalable, not going to be profitable,” Lopez said.
Telefónica wants to understand how to build and manage this new type of network infrastructure and create services at the edge. “One way is to start doing it yourself,” he said, which is why the company developed OnLife.
The operator also will contribute the MEC platform to 5G Media, a European project working to develop applications and services built on 5G. “We are donating our OnLife Network platform to enable a number of 5G use cases including immersive applications and virtual reality,” Lopez said.