Mavenir introduces the Media Breakout Controller

It's edge based compute, but it's not MEC, it's the MBC.

Mavenir is introducing a new “white box” element that it says will enable operators to offload traffic at the very edge of the network, and to host virtualised functions such as vFirewall, vRouter and vBBU.

The company says the Media Breakout Controller “offers the ability to host virtual Routing, Firewall, and User Plane data offload in a single white box routing platform, deployable anywhere at the network edge including cell sites, local data centers and at enterprises.”

The Media Breakout Controller will be marketed as part of Mavenir’s Access Product portfolio – providing a platform for edge virtualisation. The company said that it could also be combined with additional virtual functions that provide video optimisation, caching, and virtualised Base Band Units (vBBU) for Cloud RAN. Mavenir’s press release said the solution “opens the door to using previously excluded fronthaul solutions and to processing of the radio interface on COTS processors”.

John Baker, SVP Business Development, Mavenir, said that the business driver for operators to consider siting the compute platform at the cell site is that operators can replace the space used by a Cell Site Router – an element that is decreasing in use – with a 1u white box compute platform that can still host routing, as well as providing firewall and offload functions.

Mavenir said that the white box solution differs from MEC because MEC platforms will still be centrally controlled, while the MBC will be a genuinely distributed platform; “The ability to scale network functionality using virtual elements and COTS hardware platforms allows network functionality to be deployed at any location.”

This makes it sound closer to an architecture envisaged by something like mCORD – an Open Source project to deliver a distributed, cloud-based central office.

Baker says, “Yes, this is close to the mCORD architecture and a lot more. We can add the Mavenir BBU and EPC functionality to this platform, given we can host the full EPC on the platform. If the platform is sized with the correct number of compute cores other VNFs can be supported.

“MEC functionality is fully integrated onto the SGI LAN,” he added, by way of contrast.

Baker said the MBC is “fully supported in Open Stack” and can be plugged in to any vendor’s network.

The company argues that with video making up the largest proportion of data traffic, and with most video being encrypted, often the most sensible thing for operators to do from a commercial point of view would be to cache video locally and offload that traffic as soon as possible.

Mavenir has been working to introduce a new, low-cost 5G-based vRAN product, with open interfaces between the BBU and RRH, to the market. It argues that the MBC enables operators to deploy a “5G-like architecture” (ie virtualised edge platform) in existing networks.