Vodafone is the latest carrier to push ahead with rolling out a voice over LTE (VoLTE) service, with its Italian subsidiary launching the service, reports Telecoms.com.
Setting this VoLTE project apart from other operators pursuing the calling technology, however, is the contribution from Huawei to launch the service on a cloud-based IMS core network. Essentially, the service launch is a live demonstration of NFV in action, with it relying on NFV-compliant core network solutions that are interoperable with commercial off the shelf (COTS) infrastructures. In this instance, the IMS and element management system (EMS) are virtualized, managed by the snappily titled “MANO-VNFM” (management and orchestration virtualized network function management).
Huawei reckons this constitutes a world first, and builds upon work conducted during ETSI NFV ISG’s proof of concept trials. ZTE, China Unicom and HP collaborated on developing a VoLTE service based on vEPC (evolved packet core) and vIMS architecture during one such PoC, and it seems Huawei and Vodafone have steamed ahead with a real-world deployment since the project was demonstrated in January.
A statement released by Huawei referenced the NFV partnership with Vodafone in the wider context of converging the ICT and telecoms worlds. “These innovating are the fruits of partnerships with major operators and join solution optimisation as ongoing processes at Huawei,” it said. “Media plane acceleration, fully automated operation, NFV-based capability exposure, and intelligent network slicing are key areas for NFV consolidation. These future goals are the core of Huawei’s commitment to facilitating cloud transformation for operators.”
Vodafone Italy’s VoLTE rollout, while allegedly being the first to utilise NFV infrastructure, is one of a growing number of European rollouts. Vodafone Germany launched the service in March, while it’s targeting a launch in the UK market at some point this summer. EE and Three, meanwhile, are both looking at a summer 2015 launch date for VoLTE services, as Europe plays catch up with the Far East already leading the way with matured rollouts of the next generation calling technology.