Tuesday 19, July 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: Following the successful launch of its first NFV telco cloud, Etisalat has successfully on-boarded its first virtualised telecom function using Affirmed Networks’ virtualised Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) solution.
vEPC is a framework for providing converged voice and data on a 4G LTE network becoming the foundation of any mobile service.
Marking another first for the telecom leader, Etisalat made its first live LTE data and voice calls on the cloud platform in April this year. The UAE telecom aims to position its vEPC to rapidly deliver broadband and voice services for both mobile and fixed users, in addition to providing advanced connected car and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services. Etisalat also plans to leverage the benefits of virtualisation and software to economically “spin-up” virtual mobile network cores for Internet of Things (IoT), Wi-Fi calling and Smart City initiatives in a matter of hours and days—instead of months with traditional EPC solutions.
Projects, proof of concepts and various trials aimed at the transformation of the corporation for the cloud era have started as early as 2013, with the telecom industry’s fostering and adoption of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN)—two of the enabling technologies behind smart cities, IoT and 5G initiatives.
The vEPC project comes as part of a corporate-wide program launched in 2016 to ‘cloudify the network,’ dubbed Sahaab—an Arabic word that translates to ‘cloud’. The program is focused on deploying the right mix of the hardware-centric telecom services and software-centric cloud services.
The corporation’s digital transformation effort strives to support the UAE’s “Vision 2021” national agenda for a competitive, digital economy driven by innovative Emiratis. “Deployments such as this, and a history of serving our customers with the latest technologies, have earned us a leadership position as an innovator in the region and across the telecommunications industry. This national deployment of vEPC now provides Etisalat with an innovative and flexible way to deliver services and connectivity to customers across the UAE, regardless of their location,” said Esmaeel Alhammadi, Senior Vice President of Network Development in Etisalat and Sahaab program lead.
“As an analogy, the NFV telco cloud can be considered like a smartphone, and vEPC is like our first app on this smartphone. With the footprint expansion of this NFV telco cloud, we plan to launch more apps to provide more agile and innovative services to customers, like vCPE for home and business customers and vIMS for multimedia communications,” he added.
Affirmed Networks’ vEPC solution advances the state of mobile networks by evolving from legacy infrastructure to a more agile and flexible virtualized architecture capable of handling dynamic requests for additional capacity. “Etisalat is focused on doing whatever it takes to ensure they are delivering the best coverage, capacity and services to their customers across the region,” said Mohammed Shanableh, Vice President of Global Operations of Affirmed Networks. “By embracing a virtualized LTE solution, Etisalat is putting in place a network that is capable of handling the ever-changing expectations of consumers-both today and in the future where increased connectivity to devices, applications and services will place new demands on operator networks. This evolution represents yet another example of why Etisalat maintains such a stellar reputation as an innovative provider of Communications Services, not just in the Middle East, but across the globe.”