NEC has deployed a virtualised evolved packet core and a virtual network function manager on Japanese operator NTT DOCOMO's commercial network.
The vEPC virtualises DOCOMO's LTE core network, including the mobility management entity, serving gateway and packet data network gateway.
The network function manager has been provided by NEC subsidiary Netcracker and handles the creation, activation, ending and updating of virtualised network functions.
NEC said the shift means NTT DOCOMO can be flexible in increasing or decreasing the processing capacity of the core network. It also reduces the recovery time from hardware failure.
Seizo Onoe, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NTT DOCOMO, said: "To maximize benefit of NFV, DOCOMO expects to virtualise many other key components of its mobile network, aiming to eventually establish a fully virtualised network. I’m convinced that our multi-vendor NFV is the first step toward our goal."
Network virtualisation was one of the busiest sectors in last month's Mobile World Congress. Among the notable announcements was Vimpelcom planning to virtualise its networks in five markets, Orange demoing a multi-vendor NFV solution, and new products from Ericsson and Nokia.