2020 is still expected to be the year when universal CPE (uCPE) deployments move well beyond the early adopters. Several leading service providers have announced new, or enhanced, uCPE solutions during the last 6 to 8 months, and many others have been working on solutions. Second-generation uCPE platforms are already available and processor vendors will shortly be launching a new generation of processors using the latest silicon technology that will power third-generation uCPE platforms.
In my previous three blogs I explained why the time has come for uCPE and discussed the hardware and software components being used to build uCPE solutions. uCPE systems are generic network appliances that are provisioned with virtual network functions (VNFs) and can be used to replace multiple dedicated networking boxes in a typical enterprise office. uCPE hardware platforms are built around a single processor with Ethernet WAN ports for Internet, or MPLS, connections and Ethernet LAN ports for local connections. The benefits of software defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) are already being seen in data centers to deliver cloud services, and uCPE software platforms use the same building blocks to bring the benefits of network virtualisation into the enterprise.
uCPE-based solutions are now part of the standard services available from many leading communication service providers. AT&T’s FlexWare solution is based on small and medium uCPE devices that can be provisioned with a range of AT&T-certified virtualized functions including SD-WAN, routing, firewall, and WAN optimization. Verizon is developing second generation uCPE solutions for its enterprise solutions which includes support for virtual functions from leading vendors including Cisco, Check Point, Fortinet and Ribbon. Colt Technology Services has announced an enhanced uCPE solution hosting VNFs such as SD-WAN and firewalls. BT announced in February 2020 that it would build out its next generation of managed services using small and large uCPE devices with Intel Xeon D-2100 and Intel Atom C3000 processors respectively. Also in February 2020, Orange Business Services announced that it is developing a new line of uCPE appliances and NFV services.