Verizon has completed the world’s first end-to-end, fully virtualized 5G data session in the US, which will enable the company to build its 5G infrastructure using Common Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware, ensuring that the company doesn’t get tied to single-vendor solutions, whilst making it easier to introduce new products and services.
Using COTS hardware leads to greater flexibility and agility, rather than relying on single-purpose hardware, and it has been achieved using Kubernetes and container-based software infrastructure developed by Wind River (opens in new tab).
“Virtualizing the entire network from the core to the edge has been a massive, multi-year redesign effort of our network architecture that simplifies and modernizes our entire network,” said Adam Koeppe, senior vice president of technology and planning at Verizon. “Verizon has been on the leading edge of virtualizing the core over the past few years and has been bullish in the design and development of open RAN technology, as well as in the testing of that technology with great success.”
Building on AWS Wavelength
Earlier this month, Verizon partnered with Amazon to launch AWS Wavelength (opens in new tab), extending AWS infrastructure to Verizon’s networks by embedding AWS compute and storage services in Verizon’s data centers, at service access points on the edge of the 5G network. And this focus on mobile edge computing and network slicing will enhance Verizon’s offering when it comes to delivering IIoT solutions for business use cases.
“Massive scale IOT solutions, more robust consumer devices and solutions, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous robotics in manufacturing environments, and ubiquitous smart city solutions are only some of the ways we will be able to deliver the promise of the digital world,” said Koeppe. “Advancements in virtualization technology are critical steps towards that realization.”
According to Verizon, this virtualization will lower the barrier to entry for new vendors in the ecosystem, accelerating innovation, reducing operating costs, and laying the groundwork for flexible network and cloud infrastructure closer to the customer “eventually leading to single digit latency”.
Verizon worked with multiple partners, including Wind River, to achieve this world first.
“Wind River’s technology was a key part of the software infrastructure that made this possible," said Wind River President and CEO Kevin Dallas. "It created a solution to help Verizon virtualize its edge network by moving to a cloud native, container-based architecture. This delivers greater flexibility, faster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency."
Other technology partners in the trial include Samsung, which provided its commercial 5G virtualized RAN solution, consisting of a virtualized Central Unit (vCU), a virtualized Distributed Unit (vDU), and radio units. Whilst Intel provided its Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel FPGA Programmable Acceleration Card (Intel FPGA PAC) N3000, Intel Ethernet Network Adapter XXV710 to deliver the processing, acceleration and connectivity requirements, and its FlexRAN software reference architecture.
"Global operators looking to power 5G vRAN, mobile edge computing (MEC), or a host of industrial edge applications will inevitably bring virtualization to the edge of their networks," said Dallas. "This is no easy task. Completing this call is the culmination of an enormous amount of work, collaboration and coordination that is worthy of celebration. Equally important and exciting though, is what it means for the industry. This technology sets the groundwork for a new world, and Wind River is excited to play a key role in making that world a reality."