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Being able to offer new and enhanced services that customers can engage with â easily and efficiently â can help you differentiate your services while attracting new subscribers. The challenge is how to make this happen. Virtualizing your residential gateway gives you fresh options to re-energize your home service offerings.
The residential services architecture has remained unchanged for some time. One of the by-products is that the in-home residential gateway has become quite complex. It’s now an impediment to rapid development of new services – which you need in today’s dynamic, cloud-driven environment.
Evolve today’s services architecture
With the virtualized residential gateway (vRGW), service providers can simplify and speed deployment of new and innovative services. This in turn accelerates revenues and lowers both capital and operational expenses.
The virtualized residential gateway is only one type of virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE) that service providers are seeing as a key use case for their network functions virtualization (NFV) initiatives. The vRGW takes some functions traditionally deployed in the home gateway and moves them into the network cloud along with centralized management and control.
Right time and place for vRGW
The option to virtualize certain aspects of the residential gateway couldn’t have come at a better time. Pressure from over-the-top (OTT) players and downward pressure on ARPU have service providers scrambling to monetize new services.
Adding to the challenge is that service providers typically pay for rolling out the infrastructure used by OTT players. To compensate for these capital costs, which leave them at a competitive disadvantage, service providers must bolster their existing customer base while adding new customers.
What’s more, there’s the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and PCs as well as consumer electronic devices within the home. For example, Samsung reports that UK homes, on average, have 19 tech devices. That number will only grow.
On top of that, effective management of devices in the home environment is still difficult for most consumers. This presents service providers with an opportunity to offer innovative solutions that improve the connected nomadic users’ lifestyle, as well as their connected experience.
Challenge as opportunity
For forward-looking service providers, these competitive challenges and market pressures represent opportunities. This is where a virtualized residential gateway model can make all the difference. By distributing specific networking and service functions currently implemented in the home gateway and moving these functions into the network cloud, the vRGW can accelerate time to market while also delivering operational efficiencies.
Figure 1. The virtualized residential gateway architecture
The realities of a vRGW
Service innovation and velocity
For starters, the virtualized residential gateway model delivers dramatically improved troubleshooting and fault resolution. That’s because with a vRGW, service providers have complete visibility into all devices on the home LAN. This results in happier customers and significantly reduced operational costs.
Implementing the vRGW model also enables policy application at more granulated levels â per-user, per-device, and per-application.
Just as important, this model enables traffic steering to the network cloud, which can host value-added network functions. In combination with service chaining functions in a particular order, such as content cache or anti-virus filtering, traffic steering enables new and enhanced service options on a per-user, per-device, per-application basis.
Another benefit is home LAN extension to the service provider’s network, including the data center for enabling value-added services, such as cloud-based home media or content storage in the service provider’s network.
With the move to IPv6 imminent, the vRGW architecture provides an efficient migration path. It supports IPv6 within the network cloud, thereby reducing the need to deploy IPv6 capable RGW’s within individual homes.
Cloud-hosted home gateway functions are easier to manage than decentralized deployment models. With the virtualized residential gateway, service providers benefit from a single, simplified device deployment option for different services. This reduces truck rolls while also enabling plug-and-play deployment.
Home device complexity, as well as equipment variants (which need to be certified and validated in the lab), are also reduced with the vRGW’s agile approach to service deployment. And with its centralized management, service provisioning is simplified with support for monitoring QoE, remote management, and metering.
Lower total cost of ownership
To top it all off, several lifecycle studies conducted by Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs have demonstrated that the virtualized residential gateway model delivers a significant reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO). These studies included a broad range of variables, such as:
- Help desk
- Truck rolls
- CAPEX-related costs such as hardware replacement
Gain competitive advantage
The virtualized residential gateway model enables the transition to a new value-added services platform for the delivery of residential services. By supporting faster time to market and innovative services while lowering capital and operational expenses, service providers can achieve a real competitive advantage through residential gateway virtualization.
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