The expected boom in merger and acquisition activity in the European telecoms market could stymie the development of the network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) markets across the continent over the next 18 months, according to Huawei.
 
Dr Leroy Blimegger Jr, Huawei’s Senior Vice-President of Global Technical Services, told European Communications that transformation services would be in higher demand among operators in Europe during the next few years. 
 
He said: "They are all going to be affected in some way with necessary consolidation of the market, whether its takeover, acquisition, network sharing or joint ventures.”
 
Just this week, Spanish carrier Ono has reportedly rebuffed advances from Vodafone, with the UK-based operator itself a rumoured longer-term target for AT&T. 
 
Blimegger, who was speaking at an event on Wednesday at which the China-based vendor announced that it is to focus on research and development of NFV products during the next five years, said this takeover period is likely to last between 12 and 18 months.
 
As a result, he believes it would be inefficient for an operator to install SDN or NFV and then merge with a rival. 
 
He said: "It would be a waste of both opex and capex... operators that are going to be ready for this in Europe have other priorities [at present]."
 
Nevertheless, Dr Sanqi Li, Chief Technology Officer of Huawei's Carrier Network Business Group, remains convinced that virtualisation will play “a vital role” in shaping the future network architecture.
 
Currently, operators are wanting to see the proof of the benefits, he said: "It's always difficult for someone to start [moving to virtualisation] but once it deploys and it is successful others will start it."
 
Last June, Huawei set out how it thinks operators can get a return on investment from SDN as it launched its SoftCOM portfolio.
 
The vendor said its FusionSphere Cloud OS product, which is part of the SoftCOM family, has been deployed in more than 40 regions and countries, including Deutsche Telekom in Europe. 
 
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