Virtualizing 5G Core Shrinks Hardware Infrastructure TCO

Fergus Wills, Director of Products, Enea, talks about how virtualization of the 5G core for networks helps telcos to reduce hardware infrastructure TCO.

VoicenData Bureau
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By Fergus Wills


Across the globe, ensuring sustainability while achieving customers' demand of high throughput requires rethinking traditional network architecture. Telcos are striving to shift from legacy network architecture to a resilient, flexible, virtual, open, and automated system that can help them reduce Capex and carbon footprint, at the same time price their services competitively yet profitably. To reap the benefits of this transformational change, a collaborative approach between CSPs, equipment providers, and software vendors is essential.

This can be achieved with a smarter approach and operators can shrink their hardware infrastructure's total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 50%. Mobile operators can achieve this significantly by reducing the number of servers needed to replicate data for synchronization across the network, at the same time consolidation of applications onto virtualized environments saves significant costs. It also takes up less floor space needed, which subsequently reduces the building size and number of people required, apart from minimizing the facility’s energy consumption. To fully reap the benefits of virtualizing 5G Core, telecom operators need to leverage innovation from a broader ecosystem, organize sourcing & deployment models and improve operational agility.

Virtualization at the Core


Virtualization begins with subscriber data management, which means data can be stored once in a single network location, but it’s still accessible across multiple sites with sub-millisecond latency. In one large-scale customer assessment, over roughly three years, virtual schema-based replication would reduce the number of servers in its network by half. Smart synchronization is key for implementing virtual schema-based replication. It enables servers to toggle between real-time/instant sync and eventual/batch sync modes. Frequently used data is automatically categorized and stored ready for access on different parts of the network — without the need for replication on hardware. This approach lets operators use the compute-intensive real-time mode only for the data that requires it.

Telecom Operators can also use virtual schema-based replication to launch new 5G services such as network slicing, faster. The flexible capacity expansion also allows operators to spin up - new, cloud-native sites to meet demand dynamically and then tear them down when not needed. Telcos can better manage their network infrastructure to simplify the rollout of new services while ensuring that utilization is always optimized. That enables them to respond faster to changing market conditions and customer requirements as efficient scaling of virtual resources is key to achieving the elasticity required from a virtualized network.

As per industry reports, by the end of 2021, 5G would have added another 218 million subscribers, putting it on track to have a global total of 3.4 billion by 2025. The downside of this growth is air pollution. According to BCG, the ICT/telecom industry currently produces twice the global CO2 emissions of civil aviation and 3-4% of the total. With global data traffic increasing by around 60% per year, this contribution is forecast to grow to 14% of all CO2 emissions by 2040.


Virtualization ensures that hardware use is minimized as virtual networks deliver tremendous network efficiencies. By equipping telecom operators with a powerful new tool for reducing their carbon footprint, a virtual schema solution can help the industry reverse this trend. It also helps operators attract and retain consumers and businesses that consider sustainability when choosing a service provider.

Optimization solutions maximizing infrastructure

To deliver impeccable coverage for subscribers, mobile operators traditionally have had to deploy more cell towers. Now network service providers can maximize bandwidth and reduce the need for extra cell towers and new infrastructure, at the same time, user-based congestion management solutions can boost radio access network capacity by 15%.


Artificial Intelligence-based system uses proprietary algorithms to take pre-emptive action to boost Quality of Experience (QoE) for individual sessions and the session congestion manager, takes action before subscribers experience congestion. That is helping operators to get more from existing 4G infrastructure – and boosts sustainability to become earth-friendly.

Telecom operators like Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, and Vodafone have all taken serious steps to cut emissions and leverage virtualization to reduce hardware TCO.

Wills is the Director of Products at Enea

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