Telefónica’s Virtualized CPE

By Enrique Algaba Montellano, Director of Network Innovation & Virtualization, Telefónica

This year at Mobile World Congress Telefónica presented its proposal for virtualizing customer premises equipment (vCPE), in a demonstration which shows how the equipment at a customer's home can be simplified and how the management of resources and services improves dramatically as a result.

This use case of virtualization enables the operator to shift most functions from the residential gateways towards the carrier’s own network, by running them on general purpose servers at the operator's premises. This makes it possible that network functions such IP routing, IP addressing management (DHCP), address translation (NAT), firewall, Set-Top Box1 functionalities (live TV, VoD, etc.), etc. are maintained and upgraded from the most efficient location.

This virtual CPE experience is in trials in Brazil (where Telefónica operates under the Vivo brand), and will be ready for deployment on the second half of 2014.

At Telefónica I+D, the research and development company within the Telefónica Group, we have been working since 2010 with Intel on network functions virtualization on a joint project to migrate network edge processes to software solutions running on Intel architecture (using the Intel Xeon Processor E5 Family), preserving the same quality levels than traditional solutions. This collaboration has allowed Telefónica I+D to maximize the output of such network edge processes on the Intel Xeon processors, ensuring high performance and stability in the face of high traffic workloads.

A key challenge was to ensure that the new software processes could deliver the same level of performance on the new hardware as on the existing, proprietary devices. When running on Intel architecture, the solutions needed to be able to quickly process dynamic, fluctuating traffic workloads while simultaneously performing processor-intensive packet analysis.

To achieve this, Telefónica I+D worked closely with Intel engineers to optimize its network processes for the new hardware environment, using Intel Data Plane Development Kit (Intel DPDK). As part of this collaboration, Intel provided guidance and support for benchmarking application performance and compatibility testing in the new hardware environment. This work was of paramount importance to carry out the prototype of virtualized CPE and therefore to perform the trial in Brazil.

Telefónica expects to achieve cost savings from this virtual CPE solution while optimizing service delivery time to residential customers in up to 50% less time than it requires today.

Enrique is Director of Network Innovation & Virtualization in Telefónica's Global CTO Unit & Telefónica I+D (Research and Development), where he leads Telefonica´s World Traffic Analysis Center, as well as the Network Innovation Plan, in which Network Virtualization is the most advanced transformation project. He has held several positions of responsibility with Telefonica I+D, including Director of Data and Multimedia Services, Director of Evolution and Convergence of Networks, Director of Networks and Service Platforms, and Director of Network Technology.

1 - Set Top Box is included only as a Proof of Concept