Advanced virtualization technologies have been adopted in recent years by service providers (SPs) all over the world seeking to deal with ever-growing demand for capacity to handle mobile traffic.
Service providers – both mobile and fixed-line – have already begun to make significant investments in software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) across a number of use cases including but not limited to universal customer premises equipment (uCPE), software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN), virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC), vital information management system (vIMS), Cloud radio access network (RAN) and virtual content delivery network (vCDN).
These technologies help address the explosive capacity demand of mobile traffic, as well as reducing the Capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX) burden faced by service providers by diminishing the reliance on expensive proprietary hardware platforms. The recognition of these benefits has led to the emergence of the NFV concept that seeks to virtualize and effectively consolidate many service provider network elements to make them more flexible, cost-effective, scalable and secure.
Latin American (LATAM) SPs have been following this carefully. Despite their wish to reduce operating expenses and reliance on expensive proprietary hardware platforms, local players are being extremely cautious about making significant investments in SDN, NFV and SD-WAN.
Our experience in the region indicates that LATAM SPs are late adopters. The Latin American market tends to wait for new technologies to mature, prices to stabilize and see the general market trends. Only when there are clear signs will SPs invest and customize the technology to the local markets to offer the best services at an affordable price.
Global trends, such as Agility, on-demand services and the need for automation, have not been followed in the region, but there are clear signs that the market is going in this direction and will eventually get there.
So far, local SPs have turned to the new virtualization technologies only when dealing with American or European SPs who made specific request for these abilities. These experiences could act as a catalyst for exploring new technologies and modernizing existing networks in the region and be the driver for the future adoption of new technologies.
One of the biggest challenges in the LATAM market is the mix of technologies used. Among others, the region uses a mix of American, European and Asian standards. All brands of equipment vendors are represented in the region. Considering, that many SPs are mainly concerned about solutions prices, the interconnection of services across networks is very difficult.
Another challenge is the standardization among networks. Most SPs in the region are in the evaluation stage of new technologies, such as SDN, NFV, SD-WAN, and want to see how they mature before they join the global trend.