14 November 2016
| James Pearce
Telecoms operators need a cultural shift to embrace new technologies such as software-defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV), a panel at Capacity Europe claimed.
The claim was made by Eduardo
Guardincerri from Telefonica Business Services Wholesale, who
argued that the wholesale industry had been focussed on
"digging trenches" and building new networks so long, the move
to new digital networks could be painful.
"For us big corporations, NFV and SDN is a major cultural
change, but it’s a necessary one. We need to stop
digging and start building networks over software. It is a big
change, and it will be really tough.
"Customers need bandwidth on demand, and that is only going
to be possible through SDN."
The Telefonica Wholesale VP of product marketing made a call
to arms for the industry: "We need to build more partnerships
and start working together on how these future services form
different providers will all interconnect. We have to talk
amongst ourselves more."
SDN is a hot topic in the industry, with the likes of
Telstra, Colt and AT&T all leading the way with new SDN
developments. It allows networks to become more flexible allows
by allowing network administrators to manage network services
through abstraction of lower-level functionality.
One of the questions the panel, which also included Colt
Technology Services CTO Rajiv Datta and Vodafone Carrier
Services VP of enterprise products connectivity, security and
wholesale Angus Flett, were asked was how can SDN be monetised
Flett claimed ARPUs for carriers are destined to go down
because of outside influences, but argued an on-demand model
for networks helping to fill in the revenue gaps this left.
"Orchestration has a scale play and we do expect ARPUs to
fall, but an on-demand model will help drive consumption and
that will help us plug the gap.
"That change in models can be scary, given the scale of our
investment compared with that of OTT players. The move to cloud
is happening, and the pace of change is scary.
It’ll change the way we work, so we have to be
quicker to respond."
During the panel, he unveiled Vodafone has plans to roll out
an SD-WAN product in 2017 – just one day after
AT&T revealed the same during a separate discussion, before
announcing a partnership with Colt.
Colt’s Datta spoke about security concerns
around SDN, and how telecoms carriers can make sure a network
that is led by software is as secure as their traditional,
"Security is a huge issue for telecoms companies," he
explained, in answer to a question from chair Mary Stanhope,
the VP of marketing, for Global Capacity. "Traditionally, we
aren’t software developers. Telcos have had
hardware developers, engineers, people used to building
"The OTT players are all software engineers but, with SDN,
we need to embed security on a software level. That is one of
the biggest shifts we face.
"From an SDN perspective, there are new things to protect.
Telcos are not built to be developers so we have to learn
However, the benefits of SDN could be huge, he added,
because the ability to buy something on demand is something
customers already understand on a basic level.
"SDN has so much interest because the use case for it is so
clear to customers. It is tangible and that makes it
Telefonica Business Services Wholesale,
Colt Technology Services