Sunday, February 2, 2014

Connectem Envisions a Simplified, Virtualized LTE Packet Core

Connectem, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, is adopting an overlay strategy for its Virtualized LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC), betting that mobile operators will implement its NFV-powered solution first for specific business applications while continuing with their current LTE infrastructure rollouts.  Once the Connectem virtual EPC has proven effective as an overlay delivering specialized services, carriers would then cap the investments in the first generation EPC boxes from the traditional vendors and move more critical packet core functionality into the Connectem solution running on low cost x86 servers.

Connectem, which was founded in 2011, is betting that virtualized EPC software will prove more cost effective and scalable in addressing signaling and data throughput in LTE networks.

While the incumbent EPC suppliers are also pursuing NFV implementations, Connectem argues that they are going about it in the wrong way by essentially re-creating virtual machines in the cloud for each of the nodes that exist in the current networks.  In other words, the traditional equipment suppliers will likely supply NFV solutions with separate VMs for existing MME, HHS, PCRF, S-Gateway and P-Gateway node. A great deal of complexity will be inherent in building scalable interfaces between each of these VM nodes.  Connectem, on the other hand, proposes to dismantle the idea of a separate VM node for each function in the packet core.  Its model removes the encode/decode layers at the interface between each node, thereby simplifying the entire evolved packet core.

Connectem conducted its first virtual EPC live network trial with Singtel/Optus in December 2012 and now cites numerous trials around the world.  In terms of interoperability, the company says it has been tested alongside solutions from NSN and Huawei for delivering services to iOS and Android devices.

In November, Connectem signed a distribution agreement Macnica Networks, an integration company serving  mobile network operators in Japan.  In terms of other industry partnerships, Connectem has demonstrated its VCM software running on the IBM PureFlex platform, although it could leverage the entire x86 ecosystem.  The company is also working with Cyan to tie is virtual EPC into Cyan's blueplanet SDN framework.

  • Connectem is led by Nishi Kant (CEO), who previously worked at Stoke and Azaire Networks, as well ast Hughes Networks and Nortel Networks.