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Intel, SK Telecom Join Forces to Build Virtualized Base Station

By Paula Bernier October 01, 2013

Korean service provider SK Telecom has signed a deal with Intel to jointly develop a virtualized base station.

The companies are referring to this solution as a vRAN, or virtual radio access network. Although a press release issued by the companies uses the term network functions virtualization only briefly – mentioning SK Telecom plans to strengthen its cooperation with organizations participating in European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s NFV standardization effort – the concept described here is basically NFV.

NFV delivers network capabilities in the form of software that can run on standard hardware. The goal in moving to this software-oriented model is to free network operators from the cost of specialized software but, even more importantly, to enable them to have more agile networks so they can more easily add, delete, efficiently configure and deliver, and scale services and functionality.

SK Telecom notes that the vRAN should allow for more efficient operations because it will enable the service provider to allocate and pool base station resources as traffic requires. It adds that vRAN will also be able to support new intelligent services due to its ability to gather base station information.

 “With the aim to accommodate surging data traffic and secure differentiated competitiveness, SK Telecom has been making aggressive efforts to enhance its network structure by applying cutting-edge IT,” said Choi Jin-sung, executive vice president and head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom. “Through this technical cooperation with Intel and successful development of the vRAN technology, we will take the lead in next-generation network evolution.”

Rose Schooler, VP and general manager of Intel’s Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group, added that vRAN should lower service provider costs and increase efficiencies and the ability to introduce new services, particularly as it relates to indoor hotspot environments.

In addition to stepping up its role in the ETSI NFV effort, SK Telecom says it’s a leader in the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance, which aims to provide an integrated and cohesively managed delivery platform to enable affordable mobile broadband services. 

Intel and SK Telecom aren’t the first to discuss the concept of a virtualized base station. A company called Vanu Inc., which was founded in 1998 and evolved from research at MIT, developed the Anywave Base Station, which it says is the first FCC-certified software radio. Vanu in August of 2011 announced that it had won a multi-million dollar deal with Tata Teleservices Ltd. for the software solution.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Executive Editor, TMC

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