Nokia Networks has kickstarted its NFV strategy with the launch of voice over LTE (VoLTE) as its first commercially available virtualised network function.

The Finland-based vendor is claiming the availability of cloud VoLTE as an industry first in the area of Network Functions Virtualisation, as well as a first for Nokia. It said the ETSI-compliant NFV solution is due to go live with a major operator by the end of 2014.

The company clearly plans to make 2014 its first major year for NFV deployments. It is also launching an orchestration tool called Cloud Network Director, which is designed to automatically deploy, configure, optimise and repair a set of virtualised network functions to simplify the deployment of services such as VoLTE.

“The prime motivations for operators to move to the telco cloud are business agility and network flexibility. We are making 2014 the year in which these benefits become reality for operators,” said Michael Clever, senior vice president of Core at Nokia Networks.

For mobile operators, NFV is expected to provide a framework for the deployment of LTE solutions such as VoLTE, Rich Communication Services (RCS) and mobile core networks in virtualised data centres.

For example, running VoLTE on a cloud platform enables operators to scale and cope with varying traffic by automating the necessary mobile network functions, Nokia said.

“The commercial implementation of NFV capabilities is a major step forward in the development of the telco cloud which many operators are eyeing up as a way to make more efficient use of network capacity and gain greater agility in service provisioning. Making it all work properly together takes end-to-end expertise in telecoms, virtualization and security,” said Sathya Atreyam, research manager at IDC.