Four Telecom Players Team Up for 5G “Network Functions Virtualization” Platform

September 12, 2020 by Jake Hertz

Samsung, Hewlett Packard, Intel, and SK Telecom have recently announced their partnership to develop an NFV platform aimed at democratizing 5G.

With 5G around the corner, many businesses fear that they will need to completely overhaul their current infrastructures in order to modernize. On top of this, 5G is in its infancy, meaning there is plenty of room for change. 


Example of a 5G network architecture

Example of a 5G network architecture. Image used courtesy of EMF Explained


For instance, the hardware to support 5G today could be considered antiquated in a matter of years. 


Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

One of the most adopted solutions to this problem is network functions virtualization (NFV) platforms

NFV is a means of abstracting network functions, allowing them to be installed, controlled, and manipulated by software running on standardized compute nodes. This technique incorporates cloud and virtualization technologies to rapidly develop new network services that are both automatic and scalable.


NFV layout

NFV layout. Image used courtesy of Juniper Networks


The real benefit here is that businesses don’t need to constantly upgrade their hardware infrastructure. Instead, utilizing NFV platforms, IT folk can provide high-performance networks with greater scalability, elasticity, and adaptability at reduced costs compared to networks built from traditional networking equipment. 


Four Companies Partner on NFV for 5G 

Understanding the imminent difficulties of establishing a 5G hardware infrastructure, some industry giants decided to partner up with an NFV platform of their own. 

This week, Samsung, Hewlett Packard, SK Telecom, and Intel officially announced their collaboration to commercialize an evolved 5G NFV platform. Under the partnership, the four companies will collaboratively develop evolved NFV technologies for 5G network infrastructure, establish a standardized process for adoption of NFV, and develop technologies that can harness the capabilities of the virtualized network.


Intel server based around Xeon processors

Intel server based around Xeon processors. Image used courtesy of Server Store


To this end, Intel will provide its IP for the hardware infrastructure, mostly centered around its Xeon processors, Ethernet 800 Series Network Adapters, and SSDs. HP, on the other hand, will provide HPE ProLiant Servers to Samsung Electronics for early development and verification purposes.

The final player, SK Telecom, will contribute by establishing a process for 5G network virtualization, which includes interconnecting its 5G core network to Samsung’s virtualized 5G solutions.


Goals of the Partnership 

The goal is that, together, the companies will be able to reduce the time required to validate and integrate technologies from various vendors as well as verify them within the network. This will, in hopes, rapidly introduce new innovative technologies that may enhance the end-user experience. 

Mobile operators may also benefit from the NFV platform because it is designed to significantly reduce time-to-market for the latest 5G services such as AR/VR. Previously, operators had to install each new hardware equipment or upgrade existing ones to introduce a new service.

Speaking on the collaboration, Roh Wonil, Samsung Electronics' senior VP of product strategy and networks business, says, “Together with SK Telecom, HPE and Intel, Samsung will lay the groundwork for network virtualization to allow SK Telecom to swiftly apply Samsung’s virtualized solutions on partner hardware platforms."

But the push for NFV doesn't end with these four companies. Wonil explains that "as more operators look to virtualized networks, this collaboration will serve as an exemplar of transforming legacy networks to virtual networks. . . . With proven success in 5G commercialization, we will continue to extend our 5G leadership, allowing customers to experience immersive 5G services.”