Heavy Reading

Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis

With the success of 3G data and with operators starting to plan and deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE), mobile networks are going through a period of deep, lasting, change. The transition to LTE/System Architecture Evolution (SAE) involves a fundamental shift to a "flat" all-IP system architecture that impacts every part of the network, with the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) at its center. SAE specifies an all-IP network architecture designed to support end-to-end packet services. It comprises two tightly integrated components: the Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network (E-UTRAN) a.k.a. LTE RAN and EPC.

EPC provides session, mobility, and quality-of-service (QoS) management in LTE networks and is the conduit through which operators connect users to applications on the Internet, on corporate networks, and in the operator's own service delivery environment. Requirements for the EPC to support guaranteed delivery of critical, low-latency services, such as voice, alongside high-throughput, best-effort Internet services on a single infrastructure place demanding new requirements on the packet core equipment, which must scale in multiple dimensions to meet the needs of next-generation mobile broadband networks.

One of these dimensions is the network "intelligence" inherent to EPC that allows operators to differentiate treatment of services and applications according to technical and commercial policies. This makes EPC is critical to enabling operators to monetize and profit from the vast capital investment and operational expense of mobile broadband networks. It is also increasingly clear that, while EPC is primarily thought of in relation to LTE, the technology and architecture is aligned with, and fundamentally suited to supporting a common packet core network for 2G, 3G, and LTE radio access. This concept of a common packet core underlines the deeply strategic nature of EPC product development and network deployment models.

For operators, the common core concept implies a multi-year strategic view of not just LTE/SAE introduction, but also of existing voice and packet core networks, the underlying packet transport domain, and interaction with the policy control and service delivery layer. Because operators' long-term target architecture definitions depend on product capability and technology suppliers' ability to meet roadmap commitments, the impact on equipment vendors is similarly far-reaching.

Established mobile packet core vendors are naturally in prime position to lead the market to EPC, but the all-IP nature of the technology and the potentially disruptive nature of the architecture open the opportunity up to, and increase the responsibility on, vendors from across the carrier networking ecosystem. In this sense EPC is also of direct relevance to suppliers in switching and routing, backhaul, policy, IMS, security, VOIP, OSS/BSS, and radio access suppliers.

Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis provides a crucial roadmap that charts how network operators will migrate to LTE/SAE, and how that migration will shape their core network technology choices. It identifies and analyzes the key technology and deployment issues that mobile operators must deal with regarding the transition from 2G and 3G to LTE, and assesses technology platforms and choices for EPC network elements in the context of evolving control- and bearer-plane requirements.


This report offers a complete competitive analysis of EPC technology suppliers and evaluates deployment models now being considered for EPC. It also includes Heavy Reading's first-ever five-year forecast for the mobile packet core sector, including a breakout of MPC technology spending by technology type through 2014.

For a complete list of technology suppliers reviewed and analyzed, click here.

Technology supplier products and strategies are compared and evaluated over a wide range of criteria, including the following:

Platform strategies for evolved packet core
Packet core platform choices by application
Mobility Management Entity (MME) products and platform choices
Combined SGSN and MME platforms and strategies
Packet gateway products and platforms
Combined GGSN and S/P-GW platforms and strategies

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Report Scope and Structure

Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis is structured as follows:

Section I is an introduction to the report, with complete report key findings.

Section II analyzes the EPC architecture and key technology features.

Section III assesses technology platforms and choices for EPC network elements in the context of evolving control-plane and bearer-plane requirements.

Section IV looks at deployment models for EPC, including the question of centralized vs. distributed deployment, and potential migration scenarios from 2G/3G packet core to a common EPC-based core network.

Section V evaluates vendor competitive positioning in the mobile packet core, including consideration of market share; vendor momentum; acquisitions, consolidation, and partnerships; best-of-breed vs. end-to-end; and design, integration, and network management services.

Section VI examines the market for mobile packet core equipment. It includes our estimates of the actual market in 2008 and forecast for the period through 2014.

Section VII analyzes the EPC product strategies of 12 leading mobile network equipment suppliers.

Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

Technology suppliers: How does your LTE/MPC/EPC strategy compare with your competition? How do your expectations for revenue growth in this sector align with Heavy Reading's expectations? Which technology solutions are best positioned to take advantage of the anticipated market growth? Which technology choices are emerging as the front-runners in the move to EPC? Are your product strategies and marketing messages in line with customer plans and expectations?
Mobile network operators: How do your plans for LTE and EPC match up with the rest of the industry? How does your 4G migration strategy compare with the strategies of your competitors? What technologies are likely to emerge as the clear choices for next-generation packet core networks? What is the competitive threat posed by other operators using other technologies?
Investors: Which suppliers are emerging as the early leaders in the LTE/MPC/EPC sector? How fast will the MPC/EPC market grow over the next five years, and which companies are best positioned to take advantage of that growth? What are the likely impacts of LTE and EPC deployment on network operator and technology supplier revenue and profitability? How will the migration to LTE affect profitability for the mobile sector in the coming years?

Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis is published in PDF format.

PRICE: $3,995
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
Gabriel Brown tracks wireless technologies and services for Heavy Reading, focusing on wireless data networking technologies such as 3G/HSPA, WiMax, and LTE. He has covered the wireless data industry since 1998...
Click here for a full list of included companies
69 pages of analysis covering the LTE, Mobile Packet Core (MPC), and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) sectors and network operator migration to 4G architectures
Heavy Reading's first-ever forecast of MPC/EPC product revenues through 2014
Concise analysis of the economic and performance issues that will drive MPC/EPC deployments worldwide
Detailed competitive analysis of vendor strategies regarding long-term product development strategies in the MPC/EPC sector
PRICE: $3,995
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