Here we go, Mobile World Congress is fast approaching with about 100,000 attendees descending on Barcelona next week. The big focus this year is said to be around 5G, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and virtualization.

blog photo 2So on those themes Cisco recently hosted a Cisco Knowledge Network Session with Heavy Reading’s Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown on Virtualized Packet Core (VPC). I know, I know Cisco has been driving VPC/NFV/SDN for some time but this time we wanted to focus on Tier 2 & 3 mobile operators, as the big mobile operators have been testing for about 12 – 18 months. We had hundreds of customers attend the session, and to our surprise many larger Mobile Operators attended the session, along with supplying their feedback.

The main research outcomes found by the Heavy Reading Study for the drivers for VPC were:

  • Capacity Relief / Cap & Grow of physical Packet Core
  • Packet Core Refresh / Replacement
  • Vendor Diversity
  • New Services – IoT
  • Prepare for 5G

Advantages of VPC for Tier 2 & 3 Operators
For smaller operators, they can benefit from massive sunk investment in technology development made by large Tier 1 operators and their vendors in VPC. Smaller operators can also be much more agile and seize opportunities more quickly than Tier 1s even if their total budgetary constraint is greater.

Use Cases Covered in the study:

  1. MVNO & Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE)
    • Strong MVNO market dynamics; e.g., Google, Cable MSOs, EU consolidation
  2. Enterprise Private Virtual Network Operator (PVNO)
    • Opportunity to combine mobile VPN with enterprise cloud applications
  3. IoT/M2M
    • Wide-area IoT services on dedicated core network; optimized traffic profile
  4. Special Events & Venues
    • Multi-operator, shared small-cell networks at major venue


Backed by global Tier 1 operators, today’s state-of-the-art virtual EPC technology offers performance close enough to the classic hardware-based model. A software-based mobile core levels the playing field with bigger operators because it puts brand-name EPC products and features within reach of smaller operators, and, because hardware dependencies are irrelevant, feature updates in new software releases are more accessible and faster to deploy.


Cisco’s Virtual EPC-in-a-Box: Server Based

  • COTS-based Mobile Packet Core
  • Includes P-GW, S-GW, GGSN, SGSN, MME
  • Supports integrated inline SGi-LAN services
  • Scales to 50 Gbit/s and 5 million SAUs in 12 RU
  • Scales down to smaller 6 RU system
  • Runs on RedHat OS & KVM hypervisor
  • Not (yet) an orchestrated NFV solution

Learn more about Cisco’s VPC.

Read the full VPC report from Light Reading.

Watch the on demand webinar and download the presentation.


Jim O'Leary

Sr. Manager Mobile Solutions Marketing