Turkish operator Turkcell and vendor partners Affirmed Networks and Red Hat deployed what they claim is the largest commercial virtualized mobile network in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), supporting 35 million subscribers with a volume of 1.8 terabits per second.
Turkcell has now virtualized 18 percent of its voice and data services capacity on its telco cloud and is on track to reach 40 percent by the end of the year. Red Hat Consulting helped design Turkcell’s Unified Telco Cloud, while Affirmed acted as the main systems integrator. Turkcell uses Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform for building hybrid clouds that is supported with Red Hat Ceph Storage.
The work is helping Turkcell prepare for the 5G and edge computing evolution in its network, said Turkcell CTO Gediz Sezgin in a statement. “With the Unified Telco Cloud we want to lower the barrier of entry to our own network to make it a breeding ground for innovation and competition [and] we want to unify infrastructure and decrease operational costs,” he said. “I can welcome my team, and our suppliers, to test and deploy services more easily. As a business, we can more quickly turn ideas into new experiences for customers.”
Chris Nicoll, an analyst at ACG Research, called Turkcell’s deployment a “bold … forward-thinking” move. “Turkcell is one of those aggressive operators that wants to push the envelope and develop its technical leadership,” Nicoll added.
In the industry at large, the maturity of virtualized networks that are cloudified and containerized “needs a bit more time to develop,” Nicoll said in an email. “Early implementers such as Turkcell will gain valuable knowledge as to what works and what doesn’t, and how to use the new tech to cut costs and deploy services faster and reduce the operational load.”
Nicoll also called both Affirmed and Red Hat “aggressive and leaders in the space.” Affirmed brought 5G features such as network slicing to 4G networks, while Red Hat is an established vendor in the space. “The core of the network has a huge impact on the entire network,” Nicoll added. “This is not simple stuff.”
Nicoll advised IT shops at other carriers to bone up on software expertise to move to NFV. “This is where having strong partners like Red Hat/Affirmed, Dell/VMware, HPE, and others reaps benefits.” Also, he recommended isolating a part of the network to do a complete implementation, not just “dipping a toe into the water.”
CORRECTION: Headline and story initially said the deployment was the largest in “the Middle East” but has been changed to “EMEA Region.”