Alcatel-Lucent is set to deploy its virtualized radio network controller in Etisalat Group’s access network in both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sri Lanka. The deployment will be a first of its kind in the countries, and will enable Etisalat to benefit from the greater flexibility and efficiency in its radio access network (RAN) operations afforded by network functions virtualization (NFV), lowering operational costs while meeting escalating demand for data from its subscribers.

Under Etisalat’s network modernization program, Alcatel-Lucent is initially deploying the 9771 Wireless Cloud Element Radio Network Controller (WCE) in Etisalat’s network in the UAE, followed by Sri Lanka during 2015. Earlier this year Etisalat became the first operator to deploy the WCE platform, in Mobily’s Saudi Arabia network. Such reach will set the stage for further cooperation between the organization and Alcatel-Lucent on network functions virtualization.

Alcatel-Lucent is committed to accelerating industry development of NFV, through active participation in the ETSI NFV advisory board and collaboration with other industry leaders such as Intel and members of the CloudBand™ Ecosystem Program.

In addition to the virtual Radio Network Controller, Alcatel-Lucent has already announced virtualization of a wide range of network functions, including evolved packet core (vEPC), IMS (vIMS), service routing (VSR) and Content Delivery Network (vCDN).