The transition to virtualisation and 5G will take ten years

Martyn Warwick
By Martyn Warwick

Jun 11, 2019

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Andrew Coward, CEO, Lumina Networks

Today, 5G is focused on new radio and handsets and that's where all the excitement and hype is concentrated. However, the greater reality is that for the full 5G network to be deployed a new infrastructure is needed. Furthermore, the control of that infrastructure will have to change completely.

This is where Lumina Networks comes in. It is a fact of life that all the exciting new services that 5G promises cannot be rolled-out without network automation and the ability to splice together existing networks and the new technologies. Lumina Networks helps here by providing an Open Source Network Controller which, as Andrew Coward says, "is the glue that pulls the parts together."

Currently, 5G runs over 4G infrastructure and so users enjoy increased speed in their apps and services, and that's fine, but the entire network infrastructure must be automated for 5G to fulfill its potential and become ubiquitous. Lumina Networks deploys its solution at the point where automation actually kicks-in. Currently, the provisioning of a network means touching many different components, all of which are silo'ed and distinct. For example, there are optical silos, core group silos, the edge group, the wireless group and so on, all of which which have separately to orchestrate and manage their systems. It's tremendously wasteful, inefficient and costly.

5G will bring all those systems together and will dynamically orchestrate changes such as when a new service come up, whenever a network slice is delivered or whenever an app workload is moved to the network edge. And now carriers and CSPs are beginning to put the processes in place to automate all the parts of the network - and it is starting in the optical domain first.

Andrew Coward reminds us that it is far from easy to bring together connectivity and automation of the existing network with the new one and it is certain that 5G will not result is the ripping-out and replacement of "old" network infrastructure because it is simply too expensive and many not so "old" network assets have not yet been sufficiently sweated to make their replacement economically viable. Therefore, legacy infrastructure and the new virtualised technologies will co-exist and work together in a transition period that will probably last ten years or more. And that's where Open Source and Lumina Networks really show their mettle.

Filmed at DSP Leaders Forum 2019

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