Virtualized Mobile Networks Take IoT Primetime in 2018

By Special Guest
Angela Whiteford, Vice President Marketing & Product Management, Affirmed Networks
January 03, 2018

IoT. Such a small term for a wide-ranging concept that literally knows no bounds in terms of its potential applicability to every facet of our lives. As such, the potential addressable market for delivering IoT and connected services is immense, offering a significant growth opportunity for Mobile Network Operators globally. Despite its potential, however, the fragmented and diverse nature of IoT services and characteristics presents a significant challenge for operators seeking to align networks and resources with the cost-structure (ARPU) of the services they support.

When evaluating what is needed for the effective and profitable delivery of IoT services, Mobile Networks have quickly realized that not all IoT is created equal in terms of the network needed to deliver it. Think about it, the network required to deliver a low-bandwidth service such as meter reading is vastly different than the network required to provide real-time video surveillance. As such, in order to be profitable, operators need to closely align the network with the economics of the service riding over it. Operators literally must tailor the network to the service, which never would have been possible over traditional hardware-based networks known for their lack of flexibility. Maybe that’s why IoT has yet to have its “break out year.”

Enter virtualized networks. Over the past three years, Mobile Network Operators have universally made the decision to evolve toward software-based networks due to the many tangible business and technical benefits over their hardware-based predecessors. Mobile Networks in every major geography have embraced virtualized networks, known as NFV (Network Functions Virtualized) for many reasons, one of which being the realization that only software-based networks can support the wide range of IoT service types and requirements.

Virtualized networks provide mobile operators to easily design and deliver individual, virtualized networks for each IoT service they deliver. For instance, by leveraging emerging standards such as NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT), mobile operators can deploy networks designed to securely and cost-effectively connect to devices in remote areas with limited coverage and power. Virtualized networks also make it possible for operators to utilizing an approach known as network slicing which enables operators to offer deliver customized services by customer, industry or vertical segment over a single (virtualized) network. Finally, the flexible nature of software-based networks also provides benefits in the area of service creation and delivery. In a software-based environment, the ability to “spin up” new services is significantly faster than it had been in a hardware world.

We are bullish on IoT in 2018 and believe this is the year that it finally goes Primetime. This prediction is far from baseless. Our work with Mobile Network Operators globally has revealed that they see NFV as the foundation for delivering new, revenue-generating IoT services today, and the flexibility to adapt to the market’s changing requirements as it evolves. Its gonna be a big year for a small word.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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