Nokia Networks and partners develop SDN backhaul concept for LTE networks

Nokia Networks said it has laid the foundations for deploying Software Defined Networking (SDN) in mobile backhaul through a proof of concept developed in conjunction with Finland-based Aalto University and industry partners.

The infrastructure company teamed with the university, multi-layer transport equipment provider Coriant and test, measurement and service assurance provider EXFO to develop the proof of concept for ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) specifications. The group developed an approach where a virtualised LTE network applies SDN technology throughout the mobile backhaul, transport and core network, Nokia Networks revealed.

"At Mobile World Congress 2014, Nokia Networks showed virtualised evolved packet core with SDN. This Proof of Concept extends it to mobile backhaul," explained Lauri Oksanen, VP of research and technology at the company. Oksanen added that the concept forms part of Nokia Networks' FutureWorks research projects "and demonstrates how SDN can be deployed to control the user data path throughout the mobile LTE network.

"We can experiment on how centralised SDN control intelligence and cloud computing can be applied to the network going forward."

The proof of concept sees centralised SDN controllers operate standard transport and packet core switches in a virtualised LTE network, with all control software running on generic data centres to enable a global view of the network. Nokia Networks states that the result is LTE base stations are the only mobile network-specific hardware components, with all other functions tailored to specific mobile functions using software only.

Jose Costa-Requena, research manager at Aalto University's Department of Communication and Networking, said the team of researchers that developed the SDN proof of concept "envision both optimising the mobile transport network by using SDN and running mobile backhaul, transport and core entirely in the telco cloud."

Nokia Networks said the proof of concept will now form the basis for future experimentation to deliver the best SDN products, and ensure full compliance with mobile specific requirements. The test-bed will also help the company understand the benefits and business impact of SDN for on-demand provisioning of new services.

Details of the SDN proof of concept were released a day after Nokia Networks unveiled its Radio Cloud architecture, which the company explained enables allocation of processing capacity from "almost anywhere in the network," including adjacent cell's or central data centres.

For more:
- see Nokia Networks' SDN announcement
- read the company's Radio Cloud statement

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