Last year, Belarusian mobile operator Velcom implemented a revolutionary project to create a fully virtualized core network, a bold undertaking that has resulted in a major breakthrough in the industry.

Vecom’s CTO, Christian Laqué, will join a panel discussion on How can telcos deliver virtualisation at this years Total Telecom Congress (London 31 Oct-1Nov) but ahead of this, here are extracts of an interview conducted by Shen Wenrong.

How would you characterize Belarus’telecom market and its potential?
It has been always perceived that Belarus is lagging behind, because 2G, 3G and especially 4G were coming late compared to other European countries. However, if we look at the fixed line market, for instance, GPON, Belarus has a really big advantage in this area. The country is on quite a good track and the capability to grow and to be innovative is extraordinary high. As to the upcoming market of IoT, a combination of telecom and IT capabilities, Belarus would be well positioned. The IT capabilities are recognized by such countries as South Korea and Japan, which have recently signed development contracts for ICT, or companies like EPAM that is doing business worldwide and is one of top ten IT companies in the world. So, I see a lot of potential for the future.

What are velcom’s latest networking developments?
First, jointly with our partner ZTE we have swapped the entire radio access to a fully software defined radio network which has all the capabilities for launching 4G, narrowband IoT and further technologies just by software.

Second, we have fully virtualized our core network, which is already prepared to go for 5G.We are the first in the world to have done the full migration from legacy core network to NFV based one. With this we made a big jump to the edge of technology. Now, we are doing something similar in fixed lines with GPON/XPON and the core components. This will open the way to the gigabit society. It’s much easier to do it here than in most Western countries because the cost to bring infrastructure into buildings is low.

Have you encountered any challenges while implementing this project and how did you solve them?
Competition is the driver for innovation and developments. Hurdles are the obstacles to develop technologies with freedom, i.e. technology neutrality for frequencies. This has to be liberalized in Belarus. Other markets with open policy have proven the huge positive value to end users and to the entire country because infrastructure is such a huge driver for development of an economy. A hundred years ago it was about having a proper railway system; fifty years ago we had to have a very good motorway system. Today it’s the infrastructure of the telecommunication and IT world. This is fiber, advanced mobile network and broadband data. If someone is investing, he is checking the infrastructure including mobile and internet availability and competitiveness of the price.

To hear more from Christian Laqué, come to the Total Telecom Congress in London on the 31 October – 1 November where he takes part in a virtualisation pane that also features Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation, Telefonica and Mirko Voltolini, VP Network Technology, Colt.

To read the rest of this article, download the PDF version of the April 2017 issue of the ZTE Technologies magazine.