AT&T and others face challenges on the road to NFV

Carriers around the world are moving aggressively to virtualize their networks in an effort to both lower their expenses and increase revenues. AT&T, NTT DoCoMo and SK Telecom have all taken early leads in the space, and they're being followed closely by operators in Europe and elsewhere.

And the transition to virtualized networks isn't just about the bottom line: Carriers hope network function virtualization and software-defined networking will enable them to compete more effectively against OTT and web-based companies, improving efficiency and perhaps even allowing users to customize and provision their own connected services.

That transition won't occur overnight, of course. While AT&T is on track to virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020, former Ericsson Hans Vestberg said last week that the bulk of the global wireless industry won't be anywhere near that target. Virtualization deployments are still in the early phases, but the industry is already seeing increasing tensions between carriers and gear vendors. Those strained relationships are just one reason the shift to virtualized networks will have an enormous impact on the mobile industry around the world. Plenty of challenges remain on the road to virtualized networks, but savvy operators are already taking them on. Article