Foresight study on Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV)

This forecast study explored the technological, economic, and regulatory implications of Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) using a Delphi panel of experts, workshops, expert interviews, and extensive desk research. It finds that SDN and NFV will play an important role in the future telecommunications landscape with the most important usage scenarios being (1) Virtualisation of Mobile Core Networks, (2) Virtualisation of Content Delivery Networks, and (3) Virtual Network Platform as a Service (VNPaaS). 

Focussing on these usage scenarios, the study describes corresponding CapEx and OpEx reductions. While cost reductions – ranging between 3.7% and 9% of total cost – are significant, they appear to be somewhat lower than expectations presented in industry outlooks. Beyond the telecommunications landscape, SDN and NFV are likely to be instrumental in the development and roll-out of innovative services, applications, and products as well as in facilitating major trends with substantial economic and societal impact.  

As regards the regulatory implications of SDN and NFV, the present study shares BEREC’s view that it is premature to make any specific recommendations. However, the experts involved in this research clearly highlighted access (to virtual networks) regulation as the most likely area where new rules may be necessary. 

The study is available for download.

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