ETSI Headquarters, Sophia Antipolis, France – 22 January 2013

ETSI Industry Specification Group will develop requirements and architecture for virtualization of various functions of telecoms networks.

Seven of the world’s leading telecoms network operators have initiated a new standards group for virtualization of network functions. AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Verizon have been joined by 52 other network operators, telecoms equipment vendors, IT vendors and technology providers to create the ETSI Industry Specification Group (ISG) for Network Functions Virtualization. The first meeting of this new group took place on 15-17 January 2013 in Sophia Antipolis, France where Dr. Prodip Sen of Verizon Communications was elected to chair the ISG for the first two years, Mr. Uwe Michel of Deutsche Telekom was elected vice-chair for the same period and Mr. Don Clarke of BT was appointed Technical Manager.

Telecoms networks contain an increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances. To launch a new network service often requires yet another appliance and finding the space and power to accommodate these boxes is becoming increasingly difficult, in addition to the complexity of integrating and deploying these appliances in a network. Moreover, hardware-based appliances rapidly reach end of life: hardware lifecycles are becoming shorter as innovation accelerates, reducing the return on investment of deploying new services and constraining innovation in an increasingly network-centric world. 

Virtualization of network functions aims to address these problems by evolving standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage. It involves implementing network functions in software that can run on a range of industry standard server hardware, and that can be moved to, or instantiated in, various locations in the network as required, without the need to install new equipment. This technology could provide significant benefits for network operators and their customers:

  • Reduced operator CAPEX and OPEX through reduced equipment costs and reduced power consumption
  • Reduced time-to-market to deploy new network services
  • Improved return on investment from new services
  • Greater flexibility to scale up, scale down or evolve services
  • Openness to the virtual appliance market and pure software entrants
  • Opportunities to trial and deploy new innovative services at lower risk

The ETSI Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization (ISG NFV) will develop requirements and architecture specifications for the hardware and software infrastructure required to support these virtualized functions, as well as guidelines for developing network functions. This effort will incorporate existing virtualization technologies and existing standards as appropriate and will co-ordinate with ongoing work in other standards committees. The first specifications are expected before the end of 2013. ETSI ISG NFV is open to all ETSI Members as well as to non-members of ETSI. A complete list of ISG NFV members is published on the ETSI Portal pages for NFV. For information on how to participate, please contact

About ETSI Industry Specification Groups

The Industry Specification Group (ISG) is an innovative and flexible standards mechanism offered by ETSI, which builds upon the strengths of ETSI’s established processes, the professional support provided via the ETSI Portal, and its industry-leading IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) regime. ETSI Industry Specification Groups supplement ETSI's conventional standards development process. ISGs provide a mechanism for the speedy preparation of technical requirements or specifications for well-defined, specific issues, typically in response to a need expressed by a subset of the ETSI membership. ETSI has established 14 ISGs during the past five years.