Future of Telecom Networks – all about NFV, SDN, Wi-Fi and Digital Transformation


By Zia Askari | TelecomDrive.com

As more and more networks move towards embracing SDN and NFV – there is no denying the fact that today software getting is far more deeply entrenched inside the core of telecom networks than ever before – we at TelecomDrive.com interacted with a number of vendors in order to create a better understanding about how the future of telecom networks will look like, here are some thoughts from the leading vendors in the telecom space.

According to Johan Terve, VP Marketing, Aptilo Networks, Virtualization and software-defined networks are for sure strong trends for the future. “But, equally important is what kind of access networks an operator will provide. Mobile operators need to go towards Wi-Fi to provide a true heterogeneous access network infrastructure with both cellular and Wi-Fi working in tandem to provide an optimal end-user experience,” he explains.


Wi-Fi will for sure be central to the future of telecom networks. Voice and data traffic are increasingly going over Wi-Fi – by 2018, analysts predict that less than 15% of traffic will be carried by cellular networks.

“Then we have the Internet of things (IoT) trend that will only increase the importance of Wi-Fi as a cheap access technology with good indoor coverage. Operators need to invest in a Wi-Fi strategy if they want to stay relevant. The next-generation Wi-Fi Calling is a key development that will gain increasing momentum. Currently only a few operators have formally announced availability. We are in discussions with many carriers, and from our perspective we see urgent demand for Wi-Fi calling,” Johan Terve, from Aptilo Networks, adds on.

As per the views of Sanjay Kaul – Managing Director, Service Provider Sales, Cisco India & SAARC, “At Cisco, we believe in predicting the needs of the networks and of the end users much earlier than what the industry thinks about. For example, we predicted the rise of Internet Protocol version 4 and 6, which have become the defacto protocols of today. We also predicted that voice will be free and people will pay for data and value added services, MPLS will be the choice for delivering VPN services, Ethernet will be the only layer 2 technology, Cloud will be the way to deliver services etc. many years ago before they became mainstream. We are also able to predict the utilization of networks and demonstrate how SPs will be able to monetize it using our Visual Networking Index (VNI) and Monetization Optimization Index (MOI).” He explained.


Cisco is working closely with top operators from around the globe and use the macro and micro trends to create solutions; as a result, its products are capable of providing services that extend beyond their intended use periods.

“For instance, our older flagship product line the 7600s is still capable of addressing many of these services for over 15 years now. Our Metro Ethernet & MPLS solutions have been able to meet the newer services requirements by the MEF and IETF with little or no modification to the architecture. At Cisco we believe in creating a platform and solutions with robust architectures that allow our customers to harness its benefits for longer, thus adding to their profitability. The virtual and the physical elements which are used in these solutions will co-exist and there is a need to orchestrate the services. We are also leading the SDN, NFV and orchestration efforts helping in the standardization of the ODL, Openstack, protocols and with our Tail-F orchestrator & Wan Automation Engine (WAE) we are working with the operators to create new services and manage the multi vendor elements in their networks,” Sanjay Kaul from Cisco explains.

Speaking about the key elements for tomorrow’s telecom operators, Jayant Deo, President of RAD India, said that the key elements for tomorrow’s operators will relate to network automation, service programmability and customer self-configuration. These are all achievable through NFV and SDN.

Jayant Deo, RAD India

“Demonstrating a speedy evolution and an overwhelming market acceptance, NFV is entering a phase of extensive field trials in 2015, with initial commercial deployments expected from 2016 onwards. For its part, while SDN may take several years to implement, initial indications from operators, network planners and vendors alike are quite positive,” he explains.

Throwing light on the future requirements for operators, Dhaval Vora, Vice President – Product Management, Elitecore Technologies says that next generation operators will have to invest on rationalizing different layers within different O/BSS components, seamless synchronization and customization in order to enable future-perfect growth.

Dhaval Vora, VP, Product Management, Elitecore

“Some of the key elements for operators of tomorrow will have to invest are:
• Rationalizing different layers within different O/BSS components be it Network Planning and Maintenance, Billing or Network Operations or Customer and Marketing Management.
• Seamless Synchronization – Over the past decades, networks were built using a variety of technologies, platforms and standards, making their operation a real challenge. Now the time has come for operators to either invest in a single pre-integrated solution or ensure seamless integration of technologies and platform to aid superior customer experience.
• Customerization – Here all the activities of the operators should evolve keeping in mind the customer experience at the centre of any solution offering. Multiple customer interaction channels such as retail, service set up, customer care, self care portals and after sales support should have a unified customer experience. Efforts should be made to increase and enhance user experience at each stage possible.” He explains.

Recently concluded ICT mega event CommunicAsia 2015 also provided a glimpse to how the future of telecom networks will look like. Companies such as ADVA, MRV, Alvarian, Cambium Networks, Alepo etc and showcased some of their latest innovations to future-proof the telecom operators and CSPs transformational strategies.

The Road Ahead

With telecom operators continuously looking for getting more from their network investments, moving forward, there will be growing prominence for NFV, SDN, Wi-Fi and mastering these technologies will hold the key to enabling digital transformation for operators.

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