Major carrier Verizon is currently hard at work replacing its entire legacy network stack with disaggregated equipment driven by software-defined networking, external compute and virtualization technologies. The carrier is teaming up with networking giants and direct competitors Cisco and Juniper Networks in order to accomplish this rollout, which it hopes to have finished some time in 2019. Rolling the entire Verizon network stack over to a more centralized approach and taking advantage of modern technology's ability to provide virtualized network services and remote number crunching will not only make the network more agile for future upgrades, but will increase stability and throughput for customers.
Verizon is pushing this new technological approach to all fronts of its business, from internal operations all the way to consumer-facing cellular and enterprise fiber optic networks. This means that all sectors will see benefits, and of course growing pains. While network virtualization and software-defined networking are robust and mostly mature technologies at this point, Verizon is working to replace its current setup on an in-place basis, which means that if there are any glitches in the initial deployment, as there so often are when changing standards entirely, customers will have to deal with them until Verizon, Cisco and Juniper Networks can get things straightened out. It is, of course, entirely possible that Verizon will pull this rollout off flawlessly and customers won't be able to tell much of a difference beyond waking up one morning to find that all of their Verizon-connected devices run a bit faster and have a more stable connection.
While this rollout does stand to provide some real and tangible benefits from the jump, it is in the long term that this decision will truly pay off. By essentially virtualizing its network functions, Verizon is opening the door to a near future where the company can deploy 5G equipment and architecture at its leisure, then simply flip a switch, quite literally, to enable 5G connections for compatible devices in deployed markets. This means that the company can continue to leverage advances in 4G LTE and 4.9G technology to remain competitive with other carriers while it works on its full 5G buildout, and once that buildout is complete, make a near-painless transition.