Verizon: Multi-vendor interoperability key for 5G

One of the most important facets of Verizon's 5G trial networks with Cisco and Samsung has been testing interoperability in a multi-vendor environment, the carrier has said.

Interoperability is "key" to 5G and one of the main focuses of Verizon's series of trial networks being rolled out across the United States, with the company working alongside Cisco and Samsung to bring its next-generation networks to fruition.

Speaking at Cisco Live Las Vegas this week, Verizon senior solutions architect Chris Painter said one of the most crucial parts of the carrier's first trial 5G network deployed last month in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is ensuring that Cisco's 5G solution is conducive to and encourages multi-vendor interoperability.

"Cisco's very beneficial solution, where you can assist the virtualisation for the packet core [and] being able to interoperate with our 5G vendor at the other end of the solution, that interoperability ... is very key," Painter told ZDNet.

"It's going to be a multi-vendor solution, so we need to have that interoperability."

While Painter could not say when the remaining 10 pre-commercial 5G trial networks -- in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; Washington DC; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; and Denver, Colorado -- will be deployed, he confirmed that it will be before the end of 2017.

"This is about as specific as I can get with that right now," Painter told ZDNet.

"The trial is still on track with Ann Arbor, and then the other 10 will follow beyond that."

Verizon had originally said it would deploy its 11 trial networks by mid-2017, with the rollouts occurring in partnership with Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, and Qualcomm.

Verizon last month announced the completion of successful network vendor interoperability tests (NVIOT) across its Ann Arbor network using Cisco's Advanced Services Ultra Services Platform 5G virtualised packet core; Samsung's virtual RAN (vRAN) solutions, 5G radio base stations, and 5G routers, and Verizon's 5G Technical Forum specification in a bid to achieve core network, radio edge, and user device interworking and network function virtualisation.

According to Cisco, Samsung, and Verizon, each city comes with a different set of "test parameters", such as different vendors, geographical characteristics, population densities, and demographics -- making a multi-vendor solution integral so that 5G networks can be individualised.

"Interoperability, a key milestone towards 5G commercialisation, allows for highly flexible network design to meet emerging 5G use cases," Verizon VP of Network Planning Adam Koeppe said last month.

Cisco first announced that it would be providing the pre-commercial 5G architecture for Verizon's trials back in February, including its virtualised, cloud-based 5G packet core as part of its Cisco Ultra Service Platform; mobile backhaul infrastructure to enable gigabit speeds for network transport; virtualised managed services; a new set of business applications; and a pre-release version of its 5G-enabled router.

Its virtualised packet core is designed to "increase service velocity by providing on-boarding and operational simplification for virtual network functions that help enable individual applications to be delivered to customers in real-time", Cisco said.

In addition, Cisco's virtual managed services software platform utilises virtualisation, automation, analytics, and cloud services to deploy network and security services including Cisco iWAN and threat-based security solutions in a faster and more efficient way.

New business applications for connectivity and performance for VR and AR will also be explored by Cisco and Verizon through the partnership.

BT VP for West Region, US, and Canada Tammie Briscoe, meanwhile, used Cisco Live Las Vegas to describe how BT is focusing on using 5G for the delivery of media.

Using Cisco's equipment, Briscoe said BT is segmenting and piecing media together to enable its delivery through a 5G environment.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco

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