Mavenir SVP highlights 5G bandwidth, latency benefits
Early deployments of commercial 5G services will look more like really fast LTE services, according to John Baker, Mavenir SVP, Business Development. During an interview with RCR Wireless News during Mobile World Congress 2018, Baker said 5G will really open up with an upgrade to a new core and the distribution of compute power to the network edge.
“The initial deployments of 5G have been targeted for this year,” Baker said. “You’re going to see 4G-type services but with…higher throughputs, higher bandwidth speeds.” He predicted this round of upgrades would drive lots of “marketing activities,” but, “In reality, from a services perspective, what’s going on is 5G is about re-architecting the networks. It’s not just about the radio. The big driver is about latency–how to provide services at the edge of the network.”
The move to the edge will come in parallel with a move toward running virtual network functions of commercial, off-the-shelf servers, which has big implications for network capex and opex. “As the networks are moving to the edge,” Baker said, “whether it be 4G or 5G, it really comes down to how you can take the core move it to the edge from a control perspective, from a radio perspective.” Drawing a line to the opportunity around access to shared spectrum like with CBRS, Baker said enterprise LTE networks can benefit from virtualization. “You can essentially put very small footprint VNFs onto whitebox compute platforms that connect together with the radio. It looks like an IT platform where you can plug it into the enterprise and have what you call enterprise LTE.” In the enterprise space, “There’s hundreds and thousands of LTE networks being built, and agreements being made with mobile network operators to connect for roaming purposes.”
Earlier this year, Mavenir partnered with ADVA on an Enterprise LTE Solution, described by the companies as “zero touch from an install perspective, to address a market they estimate to be worth some $118.5 billion in 2023.
Baker explained the move toward network virtualization at the RAN is indicative of larger industry movements. “The operators are looking to essentially disaggregate the hardware and the software in the network. I think the one good thing out of all of it is there’s a lot of focus and a lot of momentum about making cloud RAN, vRAN a viable proposition for the carriers. It’s all about open interfaces, open-market hardware, really bringing a bunch of new entrants, new players into the market to supply those networks in the future.”
Back to the edge, Baker said trends toward increasingly levels of mobile video consumption, including from over the top service providers, will force operators to rethink the way data moves across a network. “As subscribers come on and you’ve got traffic growth, all of that traffic passes through the main functions of the core network. The challenge with that is a lot of that traffic is not traffic that a mobile operator can make any revenue out of.” He said about 80% of the traffic is video traffic and, of that, 40% is likely encrypted.
“In that sense,” Baker said, “the mobile operator is providing the network, providing all the core infrastructure, but all that traffic is just going straight across the top of the network.” He said Mavenir developed a video breakout controller that lives at the network edge and can “drop all the non-revenue-related traffic as quickly as possible into a local offload point. I can actually save on my capital investments in the carrier network. That shows how much non-profitable traffic the mobile operators carry today.”