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Telefónica turns to Huawei for its UNICA large scale vEPC network

Telefonica enrique blanco

Enrique Blanco © Telefonica

  • Developing the CloudEPC to integrate with Telefónica’s UNICA virtualisation project
  • New vEPC netwok to roll out to 13 countries in Europe and Latin America
  • The two companies are currently testing the onboarding of the solution
  • Part of the telco’s transformation to software-driven networking

Telefónica has just announced that it is engaging Huawei to help it build a large scale virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) framework for providing converged voice and data on LTE networks in Latin America and Europe. The new vEPC network will cover eleven countries in Latin America:  Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, México, Colombia, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala; and two in Europe: Germany and Spain.

“Telefónica has been actively working for some time in the evolution of network virtualization technologies, said Javier Gavilán, Planning and Technology Director at Telefonica, Global CTO. “Huawei is a reliable EPC vendor and a strategic partner of Telefónica collaborating in many NFV areas.”

Virtual EPC will enable Telefónica to serve diverse use cases that include traditional customer-centric services, IoT/M2M, MVNO, private LTE and Mobile-Edge Computing. This latest announcement forms part of the telco’s extensive UNICA project. TelecomTV first revealed details of the project back in February 2014 (watch our interview with CTO Enrique Blanco here and follow-up interview from 2015 here). As is the case with such progress and market-leading moves, it hasn’t been without its trials and tribulation. Last February, Telefónica selected Ericsson as its lead systems integrator for the UNICA project, having originally given that role to HPE a year earlier.

“This large scale vEPC network deployment is a further step within the Telefónica UNICA virtualization program,” continued Gavilán, “where a smooth migration to UNICA infra cloud capabilities will be reached following extensive tests in Telefónica LAB. These results provide the confidence needed to continue with the adoption and deployment of virtualized solutions and to enable the transformation to software-driven networking.”

Like an increasing number of telcos, Telefónica is facing the challenge of network traffic growth by using virtualisation technologies in order to gain flexibility to adapt to the changing environment while working on optimisation and efficiency gains. Huawei says its vEPC solution, called CloudEPC, enables telcos to build agile networks that can quickly scale to match the performance demands of new services, reduce production costs, support faster service rollout and dynamically allocate virtual resources. All this while providing carrier-grade availability, security and reliability and integrating with Telefónica's legacy networks, hence Huawei’s vEPC maintains the same features as its existing physical version, SingleEPC.

“This CloudEPC network build out represents a significant step forward in Telefónica’s cloud transformation roadmap and reinforces our long standing partnership as main EPC provider to Telefónica,” said Michael Ma, President of Cloud Core Network at Huawei. “We are delighted Telefónica has entrusted Huawei the cloudification of such critical network function, which further strengthens the cooperation within Telefónica UNICA program.”

Telefónica and Huawei have been jointly testing the performance of the CloudEPC in Telefónica’s NFV Reference Lab in Madrid, as well as developing the product to meet Telefónica’s specific requirements – such as using Enhanced Platform Awareness (EPA) technologies. The two partners are currently testing the on-boarding of the CloudEPC solution over Telefónica´s UNICA infra cloud platform that should eventually allow full automatisation of the vEPC deployments and lifecycle management within Telefónica’s various networks.

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