Unitary Enterprise A1 - World’s First Complete Range of Virtualized Core Network

Innovative Telecommunications Operator - Unitary Enterprise A1

Belarus is an important country in the CIS. In recent years, the telecommunications industry of Belarus has developed well, with a total of 13.6 million mobile users and a penetration rate of 143%. According to Ovum's prediction, the number of mobile users will keep increasing in the next five years. As the second largest branch of TAG, Unitary Enterprise A1 is one of the three mainstream mobile operators in Belarus, with a market share higher than 40% and about 5 million mobile users.

With the growing demand for data communication and multimedia services, 4G services have risen in Belarus and operators have enabled 4G service development plans. As the first deployment and development of 4G services is of great significance for future market share improvement, A1 has begun to consider service development strategies: How to deploy EPC services and provide 4G services quickly and inexpensively in 2016? How to enhance A1's market competitiveness and obtain a dominant position? How to reduce the high cost of equipment upgrade and reconstruction (the current network equipment has operated for a long period of time, and the equipment failure rate has shown a rising trend, so A1 needs to pay a high cost for equipment upgrade and reconstruction in December 2016)? A1 also observed that the adoption of new technologies (such as NFV combined with the SDN) to promote network transformation is increasingly recognized by operators around the world. The new technologies will not only shorten the service deployment time of operators, but also improve basic resource usage efficiency and help operators reduce the TCO effectively. As a result, A1 who focuses on innovation has started the virtualization strategy practice trip.

Velcom and Digital Transformation

TAG is a long-term strategic partner of ZTE in many fields. In the NFV field, A1 and ZTE have conducted in-depth communication about ZTE's focus on NFV, end-to-end virtualization solutions, open development of the ecosystem, the capability of integrating devices from different vendors, and mature commercial use experience. With an excellent understanding capability on demand, rich NFV deployment experience, and leading solution delivery capability, ZTE has won the initial cooperation opportunity with A1. After communicating on demands several times, ZTE signed a PO with A1 and began to implement delivery plan in April 2016. Having overcome the difficulties of delayed procured hardware arrival and a large number of NEs to be cut over, ZTE took only four months to complete USPP deployment and cutover, indicating that the commercial use of A1's 4G services had started. In the following three months, ZTE and A1 worked together closely and completed the cutover of vEPC, vIMS and other services with a total of 45 sets of NEs and put them into operation, completing ahead of time the plan developed by A1: the services shall be all put into operation by the end of 2016.

Unitary Enterprise A1 Built the Most Complete Range of Virtualized Core Network

A1 decided to work with ZTE in this project not only because ZTE's rapid delivery capability can help A1 achieve the commercial use of 4G services ahead of time, but also because ZTE NFV-based full cloud core network solution can help A1 maximize return with the smallest investment.

ZTE cloud core network solution based on the ETSI reference architecture uses open source technologies to achieve software and hardware decoupling and provide carrier-class enhancement. The highly-reliable, easy-to-manage and easy-to-integrate full range of core network solution, which covers 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G core networks, takes the leading position in the industry. In this project, the solution involves all core network elements such as vEPC/vSDM/vIMS/vCS. The NEs are deployed in three DCs in load sharing mode. The following figure shows the logical architecture of the solution.

Velcom NFVI Core


◆ COTS hardware resource pool

The customer purchases all HP C7000s, which are deployed in three DCs to achieving software and hardware decoupling.

◆ Carrier-class ZTE TECS

Based on open-source OpenStack, the TECS integrates the NFV architecture and implements integrated scheduling and management through a unified interface for computing, storage, and network resources of the three DCs. Through the virtual DC capability, management and operation complexity is reduced, allowing coordination between network-wide resources.

◆ Most Complete Range of vCN

It contains more than 20 vAPP services such as vEPC, vIMS, vSDM, and vCS and 45 sets of NEs, allows the functional modules of different NEs to be combined flexibly based on the sharing of basic DC hardware resources, and meets A1's requirements for different services and fast EPC service deployment. 

Through the close cooperation with ZTE, A1 successfully built Belarus's first, and even the world's first, complete virtualized core network. This not only helps A1 become the market leader in Belarus, but also plays a demonstration role in global operators.

Project Value

"With this major step towards the next generation network architecture we are able to significantly reduce our OPEX spending, benefit on massive economies of scale for further growth and provide highest flexibility and service value to our customers on the way towards a fully cloud-based network architecture," says Sascha Zabransky, Director Technology, Telekom Austria Group.

ZTE cloud core network solution creates a simpler, more cost-effective, more reliable, and more open core network for A1, and the solution is compatible with the future-oriented 5G core network architecture to improve customer value:


◆ The release efficiency of new products and new services can be greatly improved by 42%.

◆ Multiple DCs share basic resources so that resource use efficiency can be increased twofold.

◆ After technological innovation,TCO saved by more than 50%.