According to industry sources on March 2, a growing number of local telecommunications and global ICT companies are using Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) in communications networks. They are vital for 5G technologies. The move can be interpreted to mean that competition to dominate technologies is intensifying so that they can stay one step ahead of the competition for the 5G era, which is likely to kick into high gear in 2018.
SDN is composed of software for a control arena, which enables the system to control communications networks across the country just by managing software in the control tower. It is more efficient than the hardware-based method, which necessitates technicians to go to base stations in order to control communications networks.
NFV is a method able to separate hardware from software and thus reduce unnecessary hardware, using software virtualization technology in networks.
SDN and NFV are emerging as essential technologies for 5G networks. SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ are accelerating efforts to develop new networks and services, using the two methods in wired and wireless networks.
SKT predicts that the market related to SDN will grow 89.4 percent over the next five years. The largest carrier in the nation is involved in the Open Network Operating System (ONOS), an open-source project to develop SDN. The company attended the first board meeting as a founding member, which took place in San Jose, California last month. It was decided to develop technologies with global network companies like AT&T and Huawei, and they are going to dispatch developers to the ONOS.
KT showcased a new corporate service using ultra-fast GiGA wireless networks (GiGA office) in November 2014. A GiGA office enables small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to save money and personnel needed to operate ICT equipment. It is made possible by storing various kinds of IT equipment owned by SMEs using a vacant space in KT's regional branches, and by providing support for managing ICT infrastructure, including communications networks.
LG U+ is also actively seeking to virtualize the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and the IP Multimedia Core Network Subsystem (IMS) through NFV, which are essential for end-to-end IP service delivery across LTE. The carrier successfully developed a hybrid SDN switch last year, based on OpenFlow, which is considered to be the first SDN standard. The company also tested the performance of different types of SDN equipment. In particular, LG U+ and Nokia agreed to use NFV equipment in the Korean carrier's LTE network.
Global IT companies like Google and Facebook are working to introduce SDN as well. Google has succeeded in providing services to customers around the world at high speed by controlling 13 data centers worldwide using SDN. The search engine giant was able to reduce costs by increasing line utilization to more than 95 percent from 40 percent through SDN.
Facebook is also intensifying efforts to develop related network technologies based on SDN so that it can provide faster Internet services.