As carriers get set to offer 5G services and to support a higher level of Internet of Things (IoT) traffic, we should expect to see a carrier router evolution, as news today from Juniper Networks illustrates.

While many people are taking about applications such as industrial IoT and autonomous cars, there are still many “unknowns about the business impact,” observed Donyel Jones-Williams, director of product marketing management for Juniper, in an interview with Telecompetitor. Juniper has created new silicon, dubbed Juniper Penta Silicon, that will be used in all its MX series routers with the goal of helping carriers “contend with this notion of the unknown,” he added.

Juniper’s MX routers can be used in the core or at the network edge, he noted.

Carrier Router Evolution
Key features of Juniper’s new silicon include:

  • The ability to scale the network user plane and data plane independently from each other (a capability that is consistent with the software defined networking approach)
  • The ability to implement a 5G user plane and hardware using a standard interface to interoperate with third-party virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) infrastructure
  • Support for deployment on generic x86 hardware (an approach that is in keeping with the concept of network functions virtualization) or on existing MX routers

The latter capability may be able to eliminate truck rolls for some carriers, at least in certain situations, Jones-Williams explained. If a carrier can add new software to an existing MX router, that can eliminate the need to roll a truck to install x86 hardware, he noted.

Those carriers also may be able to save money on power. According to Jones-Williams, one EPC vendor found that an MX router-based approach consumed considerably less power than an x86 approach.

One carrier that already has big plans to use generic hardware to support 5G is AT&T, which said earlier this year that it would deploy 60,000 “white boxes” to support its 5G plans.

Updated