For small wireless operators, the concept of running a virtualized network is appealing but the idea of migrating away from a hardware-based network to one based on virtualized services is overwhelming. And few have the necessary IT talent to make this transition.
But Trilogy Networks has an answer. The company created Conex, which is a private cloud platform specifically for telecom networks. Conex interconnects operators so that they can share their resources and offer advanced services similar to those provided by the larger telcos.
“We thought that if we could create a unified network then we could launch virtualized network functions (VNFs) that operators could share. That would help reduce operation costs and capex costs,” said Venky Swaminathan, CTO of Trilogy Networks.
Trilogy last fall announced that 40 wireless operators had signed up to use Conex. Those operators will share a common RAN network that will support GSM, CDMA, UMTS (3G), and LTE. In addition, the group hopes to be able to implement voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over WiFi using Conex, eliminating the need for these services to run on individual separate networks.
Swaminathan describes the services as a virtual MPLS network, or VPLS. “We create virtual routing functions and vLANs at the software level,” he said. And then the company’s wireless partners can connect to those services. “Once you have the connectivity, you aren’t constrained to buy hardware or license software.”
Swaminathan added that the operators do not have to manage the cloud infrastructure or even deploy the VNFs. “That is where we come in,” he said. “It’s a self-service model where you consume and configure them in the way they want to be. And then they pay as they use it.”
Trilogy executives believe they are well suited for a role in 5G. The company thinks that most of the wireless networks today are designed for smartphones, not IoT. But by using Conex or another type of private cloud to share resources, smaller operators could become part of an IoT network.
Trilogy is currently working on a proof-of-concept trial with a large building in Dallas that will use CBRS unlicensed spectrum and will host Trilogy’s Conex platform. “The goal is to use one RAN and connect to two different operators,” Swaminathan said.
The company’s headquarters are in Boulder, Colorado, but it also has an office in Dallas.