In the traditional telecoms industry, technology and business strategy often occupy different worlds. Telecoms operators give their technologists and engineers remarkable freedom to pursue their dreams, only to find that the reality is different and less inviting. This was the case with the IP (internet protocol) revolution of the past 15 years, which left operators with lower costs and more flexible networks, but also without any control over the services environment, weaker relationships with their customers, and challenges in monetising their investments. Is the same thing about to happen again? I think it is.
This time the driver of change is not IP, but the network virtualisation movement or what Korea Telecom refers to as the ‘transition to IT’. Once again, the technologists and engineers within the operators are enthusiasts.
Network virtualisation promises to reduce costs, both capital and operating, still further, to allow operators to run multiple logical or virtual networks over a single physical infrastructure, and to create opportunities for greater innovation and more competition among their suppliers.It does not require 5G to be realised, but key elements of whatever 5G vision you happen to subscribe to assume that network virtualisation will be adopted.
Telecoms operators have missed the platforms boat but hope to regain ground with network virtualisation. RICHARD FEASEY discusses the technology and regulatory implications of a powerful but potentially double-edged movement.
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