Verizon might lack the attention garnered by rival AT&T in terms of its network virtualization plans, but the telecom giant continues to see meaningful enhancements to its network and ecosystem in its pursuit of greater software control on its way to 5G.
Speaking at this week’s Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier’s 5G plans highlight the benefits of virtualization.
“We’re redesigning the network to be from the cloud through high-speed fiber infrastructure to edge computing to 5G,” McAdam said, according to transcipts. “So the beauty of a 5G intelligent edge network is you can design a network to meet whatever your specific application needs.”
That network aloofness might seem at odds with the traditional mindset of a large telecommunication operator with a history of tightly controlling network assets. However, McAdam’s comments seem to indicate that even the most traditional of operators sees the benefit of a more open vendor ecosystem.
“Everything we did in the past was sort of purpose-built and was built to either support a cell site or to support an enterprise,” McAdam said. “The new architectures that you see with software-defined networks and the intelligent edge, the fiber doesn’t care, and so neither do we, what service it goes over. You just – you put it out there, it’s common service.”
Need for Speed
Along the same lines, Ed Chan, senior vice president of technology strategy and planning at Verizon, in an interview with SDxCentral at this week’s Mobile World Congress Americas event, said the carrier was indeed seeing good progress as part of the network redesign.
Chan explained some of that was from the opening up of the vendor ecosystem that has allowed Verizon to tap into smaller players and faster innovation.
“Introducing greater use of software into the network allows us to change the incumbent landscape from suppliers,” Chan said. “This unleashes the supplier ecosystem, but also helps the incumbent suppliers as well because they can tap into this new innovation.”
Chan explained that internally, Verizon is looking to adopt more automation practices to allow the carrier to boost its own operations as well as to better serve customers.
“What changes is the ability to automate and provision network functions, which we need to meet both our internal demands and to let our customers take advantage of our network resources,” Chan said.
Chan did note that while its supplier base has grown, vendors are still not adjusting to the new virtualized environment model as fast as Verizon would like to see.
“The pace of them changing could be better,” Chan said. “That pace is still too monolithic.”
At this week’s MWCA event, Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO, reiterated the carrier’s plans to hit 55 percent software control of its network the end of this year.