Virtualization is the hottest transcending technology to replace network’s hardware with software. This is powered by lowered IT costs and new revenue potential of novel products and services that are provisioned way quickly. This technology in the very start pioneered by VMware Inc. and then virtualization of other layers became prominent target for problem solvers. Virtual networks and its logical extension virtual local area networks have been around for some time. Even telecom operators are in process of rolling wider area virtual networks. Now, virtualization is entering a new phase and heading to south in cellular networks towards radio.
The transformation underway in the Radio Access Network (RAN) can be considered the logical extension of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) after core network. Its impact will get bigger when harmonization takes place in heterogeneous networks of 5G. This process is meaningful for cellular operators facing spectrum crunch and financial quagmire and I expect that the significance of radio virtualization will be just as big as virtualization in cloud computing.
Today, we need a mainly an infrastructure to build a cellular operation. Apparently we don’t have wherewithal to connect next billions in the planet and current networks are connected islands of different ownerships, arousing rising cyber risks.
With 5G, we can imagine one consolidated infrastructure abstracted out by virtualization. The very same infrastructure can be the servicing layer of everything that is needed. Costs, speed to market and paradigms are differentiating factors. Benefits are tremendous; system will function with fewer pieces of hardware that are less specialized and cheaper variety. Plus services can be deployed more quickly and for each network slice, dedicated resources are guaranteed. An error or fault occurred in one slice does not cause any effect on communication in other slices.
This saves a lot of money and gives us a hell-bent opportunity to build networks for untethered population, which is now bigger than the population of the connected world.