Heavy Reading
Length: 53 Pages
Price: $3,995
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7 EPC EQUIPMENT VENDORS PROFILED
Click here for the full list of profiled EPC equipment suppliers.
DELIVERABLES
53 pages of analysis covering the development of the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and its critical role in the LTE system architecture and the delivery of 4G services
An exclusive forecast of the EPC market through 2015, including forecasts by access technology and by vendor market share
In-depth examination of the critical factors operators need to consider when evaluating and deploying EPC
Detailed competitive analysis of seven leading EPC equipment vendors, identifying and evaluating their approaches to EPC product design and deployment architectures
GABRIEL BROWN
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...
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Length: 53 Pages
Price: $3,995
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Evolved Packet Core Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis

The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is the 3GPP-specified core network for LTE access. It is central to the LTE system architecture and is critical to delivery of services. Over time it is also expected to become a common core network for packet-switch services in 2G and 3G networks, and is emerging as a preferred point of integration for Wi-Fi access.

By virtue of its position at the heart of the mobile network, the EPC must interact with multiple internal and external domains to mesh together the complex web of elements needed to create and deliver services to end-users in way the operator can monetize and scale. Above and beyond the basic mobility, security and subscriber management functions, this role of "service-enabler" is what makes EPC strategic to mobile operators, and takes it from being a cost-center to being a business model enabler.

Because LTE is an all-IP network, EPC must support a diverse mix of services, with variable real-time and best-effort traffic profiles. This requires equipment design and deployment models that balance session management and transaction-rate performance with low-cost packet processing. In terms of design heritage, the EPC equipment draws on the classic, mobile-centric 2G/3G packet-switch core, and on data-centric fixed-line IP platforms, to create a new type of mobile core network that scales both in the control plane and the user plane.

This balance was not easy to deliver in the past, but is now more achievable due to new approaches to system design, advances in processor technology and progress in operating system and middleware design.
For operators, EPC deployment represents a major capital investment and because the EPC interacts directly with so many other parts of the network, the definition of a target architecture, and selection of vendor equipment, will absorb intellectual resources in network design and operating teams over a long period. This makes it a strategic, high-risk project with a high cost of failure, but also a project that demands innovation.

Given the need to innovate in EPC, combined with the need to manage risk and complexity, vendor selection is critical. This means not only are product capabilities and roadmaps important, but also, because operators make core network decisions of this magnitude infrequently, the integration and best-practice expertise accumulated by vendors is invaluable.

Evolved Packet Core Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis reviews trends in the mobile packet core equipment market, analyzes the critical factors that operators need to consider when evaluating and deploying EPC and discusses the evolution to an EPC-based common core for multiple access networks. It also considers the various EPC deployment options, including distributed versus centralized models and how the target architecture impacts advanced services, such as VoLTE and cloud.

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The report also identifies and evaluates vendor approaches to EPC product design and deployment architectures, and provides a detailed competitive analysis of the portfolios of seven leading EPC equipment vendors. For a full list of companies analyzed in this report, click here.

The key factors operators must consider when investing in EPC can be summarized as follows:
  • EPC as services-enabler: At heart, this is the role of EPC. The nature of the services it needs to support, and how the design of the EPC can help product and marketing teams develop and monetize end-user services, is the most critical consideration for operators.
  • Deployment architecture: How to deploy EPC network elements to take account of scalability demands, packet transport dependencies, RAN deployment strategies and so on, is critical. This is a network engineering and planning function, with deployment decisions being highly dependent on vendors' product capabilities.
  • Migration to EPC-based common core: Overtime the 2G/3G packet core will migrate to the new EPC platform introduced for LTE. This means EPC evaluations will be influenced by the timeline for a refresh of the 3G core and the potential operational savings and service benefits that may be made by timing the move to a common EPC-based core.
  • Vendor selection: EPC's complexity, dependencies on adjacent network elements and long operating cycles make vendor selection critical. Operators must decide if "best-in-class" or "RAN + EPC" combinations will deliver the best outcome and innovation. The operator's judgment on the long-term commitment of the vendor to feature development and platform evolution will be decisive.
The market for mobile packet core equipment has grown strongly for the past five years, driven by the growth in smartphone users and demand for capacity. Many operators have refreshed their core networks to manage the ramp-up in 3G/HSPA services. More recently, LTE has meant operators have needed to invest in new EPC platforms. We estimate the mobile packet core market was worth $1.9 billion in 2011 and will increase to $2.5 billion by 2015, as shown in the excerpt below.

Mobile Packet Core Equipment Forecast

Source: Heavy Reading, 2011

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Report Scope & Structure

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

Section I includes a full executive summary and report key findings.

Section II reviews trends in the mobile packet core equipment market, vendor market share and contract awards.

Section III discusses the introduction of EPC and the eventual evolution to an EPC-based common core for multiple access networks.

Section IV analyses EPC deployment options, including distributed versus centralized models and how the target architecture impacts advanced services, such as VoLTE and cloud.

Section V provides a high level vendor platform and product comparison.

Section VI provides in-depth vendor profiles, including Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Juniper, NSN and ZTE.

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