There are two new studies out from iGR, a market strategy consultancy firm that focus on the wireless and mobile communications industry. The two studies, “Global Mobile LTE (News - Alert) EPC Virtualization Forecast, 2013-2017: Impacts” and “Benefits and Global Mobile LTE RAN Virtualization Forecast” and “2013-2017: Benefit of the BTS Hotel,” are geared towards discussing the potential impact of mobile virtualization. They examine the potential benefits as seen from both the capital expense (CapEx) and the operating expense (OpEx) as they relate to operators deploying LTE. The studies also take a look at the global implications.
Mobile network virtualization is a topic that is receiving a lot of attention lately. However, what actually constitutes mobile virtualization is a topic that is hindered by lack of knowledge. Another hot topic that needs to be examined more closely is how mobile network virtualization can be implemented.
These are some of the questions that these two new studies from iGR are looking to answer. First we need to break down mobile network virtualization into two different types. There is mobile EPC which extends into the evolved packet core or there is EPC, which is unique to LTE networks.
With this type of virtualization, the EPC functions and processes are required to be recreated using off-the-shelf hardware and then deployed in a data center. In addition, a virtualized EPC could be also used to provide additional core capacity to a legacy EPC for a mobile operator.
The second type is mobile radio access network or RAN virtualization. This method requires the splitting of the conventional base station into two sections. On the one side we have either a Remote Radio Head (RRH) or Remote Radio Unit (RRU) and on the other side we have what is referred to as a BTS hotel, or more commonly known as a pooled group of baseband processors.
If the operator is using mobile RAN virtualization, RRH and RRU units can be placed where they are required. The connection to the baseband unit is then made through the use of fiber optics. These baseband units are usually located in the data center.
If you have baseband units that are operating various RRHs and RRUs, they can be co-located or pooled and they could also use standard hardware. This is a method to reduce the cost and could lead to load balancing as light and heavy loads go through the pool.
Ian Gilliot, who is president and founder of iGR had the following comments: "Both mobile EPC and RAN virtualization provide significant cost savings through reduced CapEx and OpEx. In addition to these savings benefits, the EPC solution also provides easier scaling to meet capacity needs, the ability to target specific services to certain market segments and flexibility in how the virtualized EPC is deployed for different business needs. The RAN solution also potentially provides improved spectrum utilization by using RRHs as small cells, increased flexibility of the RAN, and increased capacity and performance of the overall network with intelligent switching of the baseband units and RRH."
Edited by Stefania Viscusi