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Google Embraces Network Functions Virtualization for Business Wi-Fi

By Gary Kim May 23, 2014

It would be difficult to find any better illustration of the advantages of network functions virtualization (also related to “software defined network” in the enterprise space) than Google’s new plans to create a virtualized Wi-Fi controller network for enterprises and smaller businesses.

The effort would allow Google to offer businesses a seamless business Wi-Fi service, with “carrier grade customer premises equipment,” using “in the cloud” control of distributed access points.

Consider the ramifications. Google is building another access network that spans whole countries, potentially, based on distributed physical access and centralized control.

Think of it as “over the top” Wi-Fi. The network would operate on any access, over the top. The network virtualizes functions, allowing Google to sell a local Wi-Fi service without owning or leasing access assets. It simply uses the broadband access already in place, and paid for by the customer.

You might argue that is simply how Wi-Fi works. Each end user can supply their own Wi-Fi access, or the Internet service provider can do so, on behalf of the end user. So “access” (the local connection to the Internet) and “application” (Wi-Fi) already are separated.

What is new is the use of cloud-based, distributed control to manage access points, making the enterprise-class gear more affordable and easing the administrative chores associated with local operation of the Wi-Fi network.

Most users already have had experience with retailer-supplied Wi-Fi that just doesn’t work very well. The new Google service should help, in that regard. Though retailers still will have to source their own broadband, they won’t have to engage in so much work to activate and operate premises Wi-Fi.

That is not to say Google could not also, in at least some cases, supply the access bandwidth as well. That is what Google will be doing at U.S. Starbucks locations, for example, using leased circuits in most instances.

On the other hand, Google also creates a new network able to operate at scale for application or advertising purposes.

For end users, the new network will enable sustained logins as people move from one site to the next. That mimics the sort of connectivity cable operators want to provide with their Wi-Fi first network as well.

Want to learn more? Software Telco Congress - The NFV and SDN Event is happening August 12-14, 2014  at The Rio in Las Vegas. Register Today!

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Contributing Editor

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