Verizon’s ICN work with Cisco to lead to better user experience

Verizon sign from MWCA
Verizon validated the benefits of Cisco's open source ICN software over standard TCP/IP solutions. (FierceWireless)

It’s not a must-have for 5G to be successful, but Verizon’s work with Cisco on its Hybrid Information-Centric Networking (ICN) is sure going to simplify networking and make it more efficient on the way to 5G.

Verizon and Cisco earlier this week declared an industry first in their collaboration on Hybrid ICN, an emerging approach to content-aware service offerings. By focusing network communications around “named data,” rather than location identifiers like IP addresses, they’re simplifying the network architecture in some dramatic ways.

“This is a new paradigm of naming the content,” explains Anil Guntupalli, executive director, Technology Architecture and Planning, at Verizon. But much more fundamentally, “what we’re doing with this is there’s a multipath support and you’re addressing the content and inherently caching the content within the network at the right locations,” thereby avoiding an overlay of security, load balancing and everything else.

Working with Cisco, Verizon demonstrated Cisco’s open-source ICN software and validated its benefits over standard TCP/IP solutions for optimizing mobile video delivery in a lab at the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Massachusetts.

They say it will lead to a better user experience, too. Demonstrated benefits include key features of the ICN communication model, including dynamic adaptive streaming solutions and dynamic load balancing of media. In the network, forwarding/caching strategies will maximize traffic localization and bandwidth savings in backhaul/core via enhanced multicast, according to the companies.

While video is a huge growth area right now, it could apply to any piece of content traversing the network, including app downloads. With networks getting denser with 5G, it makes a lot of sense to not have to tie every piece of content to an anchor as it’s traditionally been done.

So far, it’s just a trial but the desire is to open it up to ecosystem/partners to take advantage of it, namely developers. “It’s early but we want to make sure that everyone gets to play with the testbed,” Guntupalli said, and go from there.