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Launch of SoftFIRE - Preparing for the 5G Future

A partnership of European telecoms providers and leading research organisations has launched SoftFIRE, a programme to push the boundaries of Software Defined Networks (SDNs) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) toward the next generation 5G networks.

Software Defined Networks are an important enabler of 5G as they, first, allow developers to use varied resources to realize the right communication system for targeted services, second, allow developer to do so working at the edge.

Both SDN and NFV are actually synergistic ways of making networks much more flexible and responsive to customers and real-time demand. It is expected that these approaches will help save Telecom Operators significant amounts of money and at the same time facilitate the creation of services by third parties working at the edges of the network.

Led by EIT Digital, partners Deutsche Telecom, Ericsson, Fraunhofer FOKUS, Reply, TU Berlin, TIM and the University of Surrey will work together to test and show how these approaches can be used to cope with the increasing demand of pervasive broadband network as we move towards a 5G future.

SoftFIRE is setting up a federation of four experimental SDN/NFV testbeds, which will allow for testing and demonstrating how to deliver and operate a reliable, secure and programmable SDN/ NFV network. As the availability of the SDN/NFV federated testbed will prove crucial to boost the innovation potential of European companies in 5G, SoftFIRE will issue open calls for third parties (innovators, developers, startups, SMEs, etc.) to work with the federated testbed, developing new services and applications. The first call is expected in summer this year. Creating a large ecosystem of companies operating in this field is of paramount importance in order to nurture and sustain a European path to Future Network evolution.

Fabio Pianesi, Director of Research at EIT Digital explained the importance of the testbed;

“SDN and NFV are going to be essential for handling the changes in the way we use the Internet. In the last decade, billions of users have started to access the Internet wirelessly through tablets and mobile phones. In the coming decade billions of devices are also going to be ‘plugged in’ as the Internet of Things continues to develop. The live testing environment that SoftFIRE is going to offer, will help all innovators across Europe understand how to cope with and respond to the next Internet revolution.”

The SoftFIRE project is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration.

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Co-Funded by the European Union