NTT and Broadband Forum launch PON virtualization project

fiber PON
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The Broadband Forum announced it is working on a project with NTT to standardize the virtualization of operators’ PON networks to support the delivery of time-critical applications (TCAs) such as 5G fronthaul.

The project, which was initiated by forum member NTT, aims to open up new business opportunities for operators and vendors by using network virtualization technologies such as NFV and SDN to cost-effectively upgrade their PON networks to enable the rapid introduction of new services. This includes the key issue of fronthaul for 5G services, adding to the forum’s ongoing work on the convergence of fixed and mobile networks.

The project – PON Abstraction Interface for TCAs – looks at how SDN and NFV can be applied to optical line terminals to disaggregate PON functions to functional modules with open interfaces. The first phase will define the disaggregation policy and functional requirements of interfaces to disaggregate PON functions which need time-critical processing, while the second phase will define the detailed specifications of the interfaces as API sets.

“As users’ usage changes, both in regard to the different services required and the amount of data coursing through fiber networks, operators need to update their PON networks, including by adding TCAs,” said Akihiro Otaka, executive manager at NTT Access Network Service Systems Laboratories. “This used to require the remake of PON equipment for each service, but should be done via a software upgrade in the near future to improve cost- effectiveness.”

With demand for this increasing, he said, “it is important we ensure there are standards in place to achieve a vendor-agnostic system and ensure mass deployment of this new system architecture, which is essential if we are to deliver agile and flexible next-generation broadband networks for emerging services.”

The project has already attracted a number of new members to the forum as the industry becomes more focused on how fixed networks can help deliver 5G.

“Delivering new services efficiently and cost-effectively is a priority for the whole industry and this project will play a key role in realizing this objective,” said Arief Mustain, executive general manager at Telkom Indonesia, one of the new members involved in the project. “This is particularly true as the industry moves towards 5G and standardization will play a big part in making this new mobile technology a success.”

“We know fiber will play a huge role in the delivery of 5G and this project looks to define that role and make it possible for operators to offer fronthaul services, among others, via their PON networks,” said Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh. “This makes the work important not just for the broadband industry but the telecoms market as a whole and it can only be achieved on a wide scale through collaboration and standardization.”

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