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New Moves from the Broadband Forum May Make NFV More Relevant

By Steve Anderson August 10, 2016

Network functions virtualization (NFV) has for quite some time now been a staple of many offices and high-end data center environments. One thing it has not been for many is a relevant new technology on a personal level. There really aren't that many home-based applications for NFV, or rather, weren't until recently. New measures from the Broadband Forum are about to potentially bring NFV home, and thus improve its relevance to the average citizen.

The changes come mainly in TR-317, also known as the Network Enhanced Residential Gateway. TR-317 offers the necessary requirements to build a complete, start-to-finish architecture. This architecture allows for sufficient flexibility to bring some new elements into play, including the ability to provision and attach services from cloud infrastructures, rather than requiring access to a Residential Gateway.

With such a system in place, service providers can offer new services directly, faster and more effectively, which provides a better customer experience, better cost savings and an improved chance of return business, which means a more stable cash flow. Some of these services might include things like virtual storage or access to video content, which can then be set up on what's described as a “pay-as-you-grow” basis. Parental controls allowing parents to limit access to certain content or functions can likewise be put in place, and better troubleshooting systems can be set up besides.

Robin Mersh, CEO of Broadband Forum, commented “While the end-to-end architecture has remained fundamentally the same, the business ecosystem has changed significantly, with flagship value-added telco services becoming commoditized and over-the-top companies going from small startups to financial giants. At the same time the consumer electronics industry is flooding residential home networks with new devices. Alongside this, the IT ecosystem has changed and cloud services for residential customers have become commoditized as a result of virtualization and new generation technologies and network concepts such as NFV and SDN.”

Anything that can be done in these lines should be encouraged. NFV right now is a largely arcane practice that doesn't have a lot of impact on users' lives outside of certain key situations. While it's definitely delivering value there, it's not making a lot of impact at the end user level. Moves like these, meanwhile, will help make NFV's value—along with software defined networking (SDN)—hit home on the familiar level that will get more users interested. That will drive a further gain, which means new competitors stepping into the expanded market, and ultimately, more advances as more firms push for the best competitive position.

While Broadband Forum's new advances may not mean NFV in every home right away, it's the start of a great new paradigm that means a more personal connection to this new technology.

Edited by Alicia Young

Contributing Writer

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