Affirmed Puts Virtual EPC in the Cloud


By: R. Scott Raynovich

The mobile network is getting increasingly cloudified in the run-up to 5G deployment. Affirmed Networks has launched what it claims to be the first mobile network as a service offering for Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Acton, Mass.-based private company is virtualizing mobile infrastructure in the cloud for operators that want to rollout new mobile services for applications such as Internet of Things (IoT), connected cars, and other communications products.

Affirmed has put its virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) on AWS. This enables operators to deliver both 4G and 5G services on a virtualized cloud infrastructure, without the need to build out or host their own EPC. This has the potential to lower the cost and speed the development of new mobile services, says Affirmed.

The vEPC is part of a trend in the communications industry known as Network Function Virtualization (NFV), in which a variety of communications services can be presented as software only, either hosted on commodity hardware by a provider or accessed in a cloud services.

Virtualization will become increasingly important as 5G arrives, as enterprise and service providers alike are looking for ways to maximize the high bandwidth technology to launch a variety of new services. Using virtualization platforms, operators can carve out pieces of the new available spectrum for different services. Affirmed this year also announced the capability to "slice," or segment mobile services on its virtual platform, enabling service providers to segment bandwidth and assign it to applications based on priority.

Operators are interested in pursuing virtualization because it has the potential to lower their operating expense (opex) and capital expense (capex). It also provides more flexibility and speed in delivering services in the cloud model. Some of the services that Affirmed believes will be delivered on its vEPC platform include IoT/M2M services, enterprise data services, MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) wholesale services, and 4G and 5G services. Some specific use cases that can be handled on vEPC include voice over LTE (VoLTE) and voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) for cable operators; private LTE connections; enterprise wide-area network (WAN) connectivity, backup, and recovery; and machine-to-machine connectivity.

Affirmed announced that Transatel, global IoT cellular connectivity enabler, is one of its customers using vEPC on AWS. "Cloud-based, virtualized architectures make it possible for us to embrace a new breed of business models to serve enterprise and consumer subscribers globally," said Bertrand Salomon, Deputy CEO of Transatel, global IoT cellular connectivity enabler.

Today, Affirmed Networks says it has more than 80 customers across five continents, including some of the world’s largest and most innovative operators. Affirmed is led by communications industry veteran Hassan Ahmed and has raised more than $115 million in venture capital.