ConteXtream's whodunit: Which Tier 1 carrier launched massive SDN deployment?

ConteXtream announced that a Tier 1 U.S. wireless operator has deployed the vendor's software-defined networking (SDN) technology to virtualize almost half of its network. The Palo Alto, Calif., startup is not specifying which carrier adopted its product but said the company is using SDN to serve nearly 40 million customers.

Nachman Shelef, ConteXtream's CEO and co-founder, told GigaOM that the wireless operator's total subscriber base is at least double the number that the virtualized network covers, which would mean the operator in question must be either AT&T (NYSE:T) or Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). ConteXtream's investors include Verizon Investments, perhaps providing a further a clue as to the wireless operator's identity.

ConteXtream's other investors include Comcast Interactive Capital, Benhamou Global Ventures, Gemini Israel Funds, Norwest Venture Partners and Sofinnova Ventures.

The vendor said its Service Provider-SDN technology was selected by the unspecified wireless operator to create a virtualized service abstraction layer that enables it to more quickly add applications and network services, "constructing the largest SDN implemented on production traffic to date."

ConteXtream's SDN platform, based on grid network virtualization software, steers traffic to the specific subset of network functions needed to support each subscriber flow, benefiting network functions such as content filtering, spam filtering, customized billing, distributed caching, video optimization, TCP optimization, ad insertion and network and subscriber analytics.

"ConteXtream's Service Provider-SDN enables operators to leverage standard, low-cost server hardware and virtualize network functions, resulting in a more efficient and higher utilized network, at a far lower cost," said Shelef.

ConteXtream claims the wireless operator's deployment represents an initial step toward achieving Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) as outlined by an Industry Specification Group (ISG) within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

In January 2013, seven leading telecom network carriers initiated this standards group, which aims to develop requirements and architecture specifications for hardware and software infrastructure to support virtualized functions as well as guidelines for developing network functions. Members of the group issued a white paper on NFV in October 2012.

For more:
- see this ConteXtream release
- see this GigaOM article
- see this Light Reading article

Special Report: SDN: Ericsson, Huawei and others consider virtualizing the mobile network

Related articles:
Report: Pace of NFV adoption takes industry by surprise
SDN's adoption in mobile ramping up quickly
Intel establishing SDN beachhead with reference designs
SDN, OpenFlow to spell the end of complex ASICs
SDN bringing virtualization to a network near you

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