Industry Blog

Virtualizing the 5G core slashes hardware total cost of ownership by up to 50%

Time to read: 2 minutes

For mobile operators, the quest for sustainability comes in two forms. The first is reducing their carbon footprint to meet green initiatives and attract the growing number of consumers who say they want “Earth-friendly” operators. The second is reducing their capex, which enables a sustainable business model because they can price their services competitively yet profitably.

Their 5G core is key for achieving both goals. By taking a smarter approach to how they manage subscriber data, operators can shrink their hardware infrastructure total cost of ownership (TCO) by up to 50%. Less hardware also means lower power consumption and a smaller carbon footprint.

An industry first

The process starts by virtualizing their subscriber data management, such as with Enea’s industry-first Virtualized Schema solution. This enables virtual schema-based replication, which means data can be stored once in a single network location, but it’s still accessible across multiple sites with sub-millisecond latency. In one large-scale customer assessment, over roughly three years, virtual schema-based replication would reduce the number of servers in its network by half.

“Smart synchronization” is key for implementing virtual schema-based replication. It enables servers to toggle between real-time/instant sync and eventual/batch sync modes. Frequently used data is automatically categorized and stored ready for access on different parts of the network — but without the need for replication on hardware. This approach lets operators use the compute-intensive real-time mode only for the data that requires it.

The flexible capacity expansion also lets operators spin up new, cloud-native sites to meet demand dynamically and then tear them down when not needed. This ensures that utilization is always optimized.

Operators also can use virtual schema-based replication to launch new 5G services such as network slicing faster. That enables them to respond faster to changing market conditions and customer requirements, so they can sign up subscribers before less nimble competitors.

By the end of 2021, 5G will add another 218 million subscribers, putting it on track to have a global total of 3.4 billion by 2025, Omdia predicts. The downside of this growth is air pollution. According to BCG, the ICT/telecom industry currently produces twice the global CO2 emissions of civil aviation, and 3-4% of the total. With global data traffic increasing by around 60% per year, this contribution is forecast to grow to 14% of all CO2 emissions by 2040.

By giving operators a powerful new tool for reducing their carbon footprint, a virtual schema solution can help the industry reverse this trend. It also helps operators attract and retain consumers and businesses that consider sustainability when choosing a service provider.

And another industry first!

To deliver seamless coverage for subscribers, mobile operators traditionally have had to deploy more cell towers. Now network providers can maximize bandwidth and reduce the need for extra cell towers and new infrastructure. Our innovative telecoms engineering team created the industry’s first user-based congestion management solution that can boost radio access network capacity by 15%.

Enea’s AI-based system uses proprietary algorithms to take pre-emptive action to boost Quality of Experience for individual sessions. What makes this groundbreaking? Our smart solution, the Session Congestion Manager, takes action before subscribers experience congestion. That is helping operators to get more from existing 4G infrastructure – and boosts sustainability to become ’earth friendly’.

“Our research earlier this year found that subscribers want to use mobile service providers that are ‘earth-friendly,’” says Sue Rudd, Director, Strategy Analytics. “Operators like Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone have all taken serious steps to cut emissions and leverage virtualization to reduce hardware TCO.”