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Service Providers Can Utilize Network Virtualization to Advance Human and Economic Development

July 9, 2014 - 1 Comment

With a rapidly increasing number of people, devices, machines and sensors coming online across the Internet of Everything (IoE), global service providers will require new capabilities to lead in the delivery of value-added, cloud-based services and applications. Service providers are recognizing the importance of using intelligent, virtualized networks that efficiently deliver new experiences and expand revenue opportunities. While there are many residential, business and mobile solutions that service providers can offer, network virtualization is also crucial for deployment in developing regions.

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The IoE aims to bring the world together through technology and empower those who were once isolated, by transforming the ways they communicate. Access to mobile technology varies and may not be as prevalent in developing regions of the world. However, tablets and mobile phones are beginning to transform how these developing regions obtain and relay information. In fact, mobile phone subscriptions have climbed to nearly 5 billion in the developing regions, and three-quarters of the world now has access to mobile networks, according to a recent World Bank ‘Maximizing Mobile’ report. Mobile communications can provide access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, increasing school attendance and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes.

Service Providers can apply innovative technologies, such as Software-Defined Network (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and orchestration platforms, in their networks to overcome the current rigidity and complexity of today’s network infrastructure and operations. Service providers have also begun to leverage IoE and the cloud to deliver new services and capabilities such as video and mobility to further healthcare and education in developing regions around the world. As the networks in these regions grow to host more video and mobile communications, virtualization capabilities will be necessary for service providers.

Some large companies such as Facebook are investing in drones, lasers and satellites to connect the world, while other technology influencers are considering the impact innovative technology can have on developing regions. For example, Medic Mobile serves 4.5 million people in 11 countries, including northeast Africa, Honduras, Nepal and Colombia (video below). Medic Mobile provided mobile phones to community health workers to decentralize care and create an “SMS patient coordination network.” For Medic Mobile to be successful, they needed a very flexible architecture where network connection could easily be established and removed without affecting other groups on the network. The cell phones helped medical workers efficiently gather health data and follow up with patients, saving the clinical staff many hours of follow-up time and thousands in transportation expenses. Further, it doubled the number of patients treated and follow-ups were completed by SMS rather than an in-person exam, saving more time and expenses. Virtualization capabilities help service providers view how their networks are utilized and allow them to manage and separate networks in order to provide a higher level of network reliability and quality service.

Network virtualization solutions consolidate multiple physical networks into one virtual network. They can also logically segment a single physical network into multiple logical networks. Partitions can be added to rapidly scale the network for certain needs. By using network virtualization solutions, network resources can be deployed and managed as logical services, rather than physical resources. As a result, service providers can:

  • Enhance network agility,
  • Improve network efficiency,
  • Reduce capital and operational costs, and
  • Maintain high standards of security, scalability, manageability, and availability throughout the design.

As mobile-device subscription and technological adoption in these regions continue to grow, network virtualization will play an important role in the development of mobile applications targeted at rural communities. NfV modules in the areas of video and mobility are helping service providers optimize network value – while offering major opportunities to advance human and economic improvement for developing regions. As virtualization solutions help service providers understand how networks are being utilized, developing regions will benefit from new technologies that allow them to communicate, transforming things such as healthcare and education while improving quality of life.

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  1. The introduction of new low-cost smartphones will enable the first mobile internet experience for many people within these emerging nations. Besides, it makes sense for Service Providers to complement the limited capabilities of these devices with broad-based mobile cloud offerings that are purpose built for the delivery of small business apps. The notion of pay-as-you-go "Everything as a Service" will be particularly compelling to first-time entrepreneurs in the developing world that have very limited access to seed capital.