Broadband Forum focuses on the business end of NFV at SDN World Congress

Embracing Software Defined Networking (SDN) and the cloud will enable a worldwide broadband market for the first time, according to the CEO of Broadband Forum.

Speaking at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in the Virtual Broadband Forum track, Robin Mersh set out a clear vision for the future of broadband and what needs to happen in order to achieve it.

According to Mersh, broadband will be revolutionized by software and virtualization approaches being deployed today to create a global market for applications and services. These will be enabled by the adoption of SDN and NFV technologies in the broadband platform in a similar way to mobile application stores, bringing new value within the device markets.

“Today, even though NFV is being implemented, there is no concept of it being a truly international engagement due to operators’ unique footprints but SDN and cloud technologies have the power to change that,” said Mersh. “The whole point of virtualization should be to create a global market for new applications and services, and the work we are seeing at the moment with SDN and the cloud has the potential to enable that, bringing us to the pinnacle of a worldwide broadband market for the first time. Operators must now look at implementing these technologies in order to realize this.”

CenturyLink is among the operators involved in the Forum’s work in this area. As a veteran of virtualization and one of the authors of the foundational ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group white paper, Michael Bugenhagen, Principal Architect at CenturyLink, emphasized the importance of collaboration in this area.

“CenturyLink believes customers benefit when operators work together as a group to create universal global market development,” said Bugenhagen. “This provides organizations and vertical user groups a place to plug into the NFV environment and collectively address operator and customer issues to develop solutions that are optimized for the entire ecosystem.”

SDN and NFV feature heavily in the Broadband Forum’s Broadband 20/20 vision, which focuses on specific new broadband home and business opportunities that leverage SDN, NFV, the Internet of Things (IoT) and ultra-fast technologies.

The Forum is taking steps to achieve this, with software playing an increasing role in the organization, collaboration with open source groups being explored and new projects specifically focusing on virtualization underway.

The Forum is developing several projects that will form the framework that can enable new applications and services, and drive new revenue. Delivering an open platform is a critical enabler but so is developing a larger addressable market for software developers as it is much more attractive to innovators if operators can cooperate and ‘on-board’ new services as a larger community.

“There is, of course, still plenty of work to be done on these technologies particularly in the area of migration and service on-boarding, which is why the Forum is evolving to ensure the full potential of them is unlocked but we cannot do it alone,” added Mersh. “Operators across the world have to look closely at their networks and how these technologies can be implemented to create ubiquitous coverage – if it isn’t global, it won’t be as efficient and it won’t enable the same kind of innovation.”