Samsung and SK to deploy NFV in live IoT LTE network

The network functions virtualization (NFV) and internet of things (IoT) movements have taken a step towards mass real-world roll-out, with the news that Korean powerhouses SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics will work together on deploying network virtualization technologies as part of a nationwide mobile network designed to support the development of IoT.

Both NFV and IoT have been increasingly discussed over the last year, with the latter in particular dominating proceedings at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Various industry forecasts have estimated the value of the emerging IoT industry could reach $20trillion by 2020, and Samsung itself dropped about $200 million on the acquisition of IoT startup SmartThings in August last year.

Among several emerging networking technologies, NFV has risen to prominence in the past 24 months as a feasible means for operators to optimise control of their networks. Plenty has been made about the potential of NFV, alongside its complementary but not mutually exclusive sibling, SDN; however the announcement of SK’s intentions to deploy NFV into a live network marks one of the first real-world roll-outs of the heavily marketed (or hyped) technology principle.

Jong-bong Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Network Division at SK Telecom, was thrilled to see NFV and IoT take a step closer to realisation. “We are delighted to collaborate with Samsung on our NFV solution for SK Telecom’s IoT services,” he said. “SK Telecom is preparing for the IoT era through active business collaboration. Through the application of virtualised network technologies, we are confident that we can deliver a truly consistent and innovative network as well as superior service quality.”

The product in question is Samsung’s AdaptiV Core, which includes a virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) and runs on a KVM-based hypervisor. By utilising the scalable distribution capabilities of NFV, IoT-originated data of varying sizes is able to be managed with greater network efficiency, a philosophy echoed by Samsung Electronics’ President and Head of Networks Business, Youngky Kim.

“NFV is one of the core technologies of next-generation mobile networks and will play a critical role in helping telecom operators in terms of network deployment, management and operation as well as service efficiency and rapid scalability,” Kim said.

Samsung conducted various proof of concept trials with SK in 2013 relating to its vEPC, and has been a regular partner with the telco on developing NFV tech, with today’s announcement the first to mark the roll-out of NFV in the carrier’s live network.

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