Around the world, mobile operators are beginning to roll out their plans for next-generation mobile networks. Some carriers have even begun to refer to these rollouts as 5G—although, in fairness to the future, these have been more like 5G phase one, in the sense that some carriers have realized more bandwidth and better speeds, but the 5G services themselves have yet to arrive.
That will change soon. Companies like Turkcell, the largest mobile operator in Turkey, with more than 68 million subscribers, are bringing 5G transformations into the mobile core, laying the foundation for the 5G services of tomorrow. And, with the recent events of the COVID-19 pandemic driving the acceleration of mobile digital platform adoption years ahead of planned schedule – that transformation is arriving not a moment too soon and is depending upon orchestration to be the key delivery vehicle for these 5g services.
A few years ago, Affirmed and Turkcell embarked on a journey toward 5G transformation that included network virtualization. Using Affirmed’s standards-based Network Functions Virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) architecture, Turkcell has already virtualized more than half of its network services and plans to virtualize 75 percent of its network services by the end of 2020. This is critical because a virtualized infrastructure is the foundation for creating, deploying, and managing 5G services cost-efficiently and at scale. Those last two points—cost-efficiency and scale—are very important right now, because mobile operators are still trying to figure out how to monetize 5G services, while at the same time demand for these services skyrockets because of COVID-19.
The Role of Automation & Management
The key to delivering these services economically, and at scale, is the tight coupling of concepts central to automation, management, and observability. This allows operators, like Turkcell, to optimize the deployment of virtual network functions (VNFs), shortening time to revenue, while also reducing operational expense, using a decentralized, zero-touch provisioning scheme. These benefits will only become amplified as network expansion moves towards the edge and services like IoT drive massive amounts of end devices.
Delivering on these requirements is Affirmed’s Network Function Orchestration (NFVO) platform. A MANO based domain service lifecycle framework, it features standards-compliant northbound interface functionality and southbound support for both Affirmed functions and third parties. Composed of an Orchestrator, VNFM, and Service Assurance components, the solution fundamentally transforms how network operators manage a mobile core network, dramatically simplifying service creation through workflow-based service provisioning and just enough visibility to drive intelligent closed-loop automation.
Turkcell’s Decision to Use Affirmed
In the recent announcement, Turkcell disclosed they will be using Affirmed’s NFVO platform (NFV Orchestration) to roll out both 4G and next-generation 5G services. A major factor in Turkcell’s decision is Affirmed’s ability to support multiple virtual infrastructure managers (Multi-VIM), which gives Turkcell flexibility to deploy new services using public, private, on-prem, or cloud-based resources. Other significant solution features include:
- Integration of Affirmed and partner functions, and in addition, functions from third-party vendors, where those functions reside in the mobile core network domain.
- Function support via either standards-based Generic VNFM, where a vendor is compliant or integration of non-standard SVNFM, where a vendor is not.
- A common operating set consisting of onboard, create, instantiate, scale, heal, upgrade, and terminate actions, all accessed through purpose-built dashboards.
- Resource management to discover, analyze, and reserve function resource requirements, with advanced analysis and reporting of capacity vs demand.
- Cross-domain provisioning of the resource and transport infrastructures, supporting compute, controller and access switch LCM tasks
- A managed automation artifact program, where Affirmed publishes regular function artifact updates to a digital marketplace for consumption and use.
To further illustrate business value, consider the current COVID-19 restrictions. Deploying technical teams globally to install, provision, and maintain physical resources around the world is impractical and, in some cases, impossible. Where-as, the ability to perform these management tasks remotely, and automatically, delivers more than just a competitive advantage. As the demand for network services increases—both in urban and rural areas, across consumer and commercial use-cases—being able to quickly expand capacity, or proactively reduce latency, will be critical to protecting customer experience and operator reputation.
The Outlook for 5G Services
Despite the current uncertainties, the future looks bright for 5G services to transform the way the world operates. The timetables for telemedicine, long-distance learning, virtual/augmented reality, low latency gaming, drone-based deliveries, and other 5G applications have been accelerated and the demand for them is likely to continue growing.
We’re proud to be working with carriers like Turkcell to improve the future of communications—a future we’ve been working toward together for years. Now, more than ever, mobile operators must help the world stay connected. Whether it’s moving network functions into the cloud or bringing 5G services to market sooner, Affirmed Networks is here to help.