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Network operators’ group reveals new approaches to core infrastructure


Open Network Foundation (ONF) announces open source projects for evolved packet core (EPC) and agnostic access.

The Linux Foundation’s ONF is proposing a commercial implementation of the evolved packet core it’s calling the Open Mobile Evolved Core (OMEC).

The new Converged Multi-Access and Core (COMAC) effort’s goal is to enable delivery of services over any access technology.

OMEC is ONF’s scheme for a highly scalable mobile core platform and is part of another ONF project, Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter or CORD.

It is designed to combine network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) with scale and economics of commodity cloud services.

OMEC relies on an NFV architecture that has been optimised for Intel platforms and reportedly tested for scale.

Richard Uhlig, Intel Senior Fellow and Director of Intel Labs, explained, “OMEC provides the open-source community with a next-generation disaggregated, scalable and virtualised mobile core, optimised using Data-Plane Development Kit (DPDK) on Intel Xeon processors.

“This will help accelerate the transformation of networks to be ready for the exciting transition to 5G.”

OMEC is compatible with 3GPP’s Release 13 to support connectivity, billing and charging, and deemed suitable for simpler, cheaper deployments such as for IoT and edge applications.

OMEC includes Sprint’s work on Control and User Plane Separation, which is enshrined in 3GPP Release 14 and rapidly gathering industry support as the way forward for evolved packet core nodes in 5G network architectures.

Ron Marquardt, VP of Technology at Sprint said, “We plan to conduct field trials using OMEC for edge applications this year, and we’re thrilled to be working with the ONF to build a broader community to leverage and build upon OMEC.”

COMAC cometh

Converged Multi-Access and Core (COMAC) is intended to enable the delivery of new and existing services over any access technology seamlessly.

It proposes to do this through various network slices, mixing different access and core technologies to support a range of use cases, and deployment and service options.

It is to use SDN and cloud techniques to create converged access and converged core capabilities on a single platform, disaggregating all elements and using a microservice architecture to combine them to offer specific services.

ONF’s thinking is that this will enable operators to place network elements where they can best be used, to coordinate edge, core or public clouds together with components and applications located close to users when most practical or centralised when necessary.

This should provide better experience for customers, less congestion on networks and better use of common network assets.

The COMAC Reference Design is backed by AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google and Türk Telekom. It specifies the common requirements agreed to collaboratively by the ONF operator members and provides a blueprint for an open source approach.