Telefonica has revealed that it will have almost a third of its network infrastructure virtualised by 2016.
The so-called Unica initiative will launch formally in June this year. The Spain-based operator said it plans to virtualise functions in its home market and in the UK before turning its attention to other markets.
It follows testing with Huawei in Spain, NEC in the US and Alcatel-Lucent in Mexico. Telefonica said it will continue to work with these vendors and also launch a virtualisation programme with Ericsson in Brazil and with HP in a location to be confirmed.
According to Telefonica CTO Enrique Blanco, the network will be able to bring new products and services to market quicker, as well as benefit from cost efficiencies. The implementation of the virtualised network is set to be staggered, with the plan to have 30 percent of the company’s infrastructure managed digitally by 2016. However, Blanco said the project would not result in a wholesale stripping out of existing hardware.
He commented: “The technology will evolve and the needs to replace it will also come. But it will not be feasible from a tech point of view or economically feasible to strip out the old hardware.”
[Read more: Telefónica’s Enrique Blanco wins inaugural CTO of the Year award]
Telefonica has been working with the likes of AT&T and Verizon to develop standards for virtualised SDN and NFV products since their inception. It has been one of several operators working with vendors to standardise the interfaces between legacy networks and interfaces between the data and control layers.
The operator is also trialing Virtual CPE in Brazil, with plans to roll out the service by the end of 2014. Virtual CPE means an operator can mediate and provision all customer devices and services through a network, without having to install complex equipment in a customer’s home.
Last October, meanwhile, it unveiled a joint NFV strategy with China Unicom.
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