SDN-driven backhaul could save carriers $9B by 2017, says study

Software-defined networking (SDN) could save operators $9 billion in mobile backhaul-related operating expenses by 2017 as they gain the ability to dynamically manage traffic and backhaul bandwidth, according to fresh research.

A new study conducted by Strategy Analytics on behalf of Tellabs builds on an earlier study the two released regarding potential savings on capital expenditures from SDN deployment in mobile backhaul. That August 2013 study estimated that SDN could produce capex savings of $4.2 billion by 2017.

However, overall opex savings are forecast to exceed the expected capex savings by more than double, according to the research.

"Earlier, we highlighted the key role of SDN in closing the mobile backhaul gap," said Stu Benington, Tellabs director, technology and strategy. "Now we can show that on top of the capex savings, SDN can cut opex dramatically and preserve operator margins in backhaul networks."

SDN-enabled Wi-Fi offloading/video redirect is expected to provide the largest opex savings at 70 percent, increasing to $3.14 billion by 2017 from $222 million in 2013. By 2017, using SDN for cloud RAN is expected to provide savings of $2.17 billion; local breakout/Internet IXP, $1.83 billion; metro aggregation/load redistribution, $1.22 billion; and small cells, $591 million.

Tellabs noted that potential opex savings for each SDN-enabled application differ greatly from capex savings. For example, metro aggregation/load redistribution ranked first in capex savings with $1.12 billion in expected savings by 2017, but it ranked only fourth in forecast opex savings.

Because Asia Pacific is expected to adopt all-IP networks particularly aggressively, that region will likely gain the greatest opex savings from SDN. The report estimates Asia Pacific's 2017 savings from SDN will reach $5.62 billion, considerably higher than North America, the second-place region in terms of savings, which is forecast to save $1.26 billion that year.  

Tellabs added that during the Mobile World Congress 2014, it will demonstrate a dynamic SDN application that enables backhaul networks with microwave links to adapt automatically to changing weather conditions.

For more:
- see this Tellabs release

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