TIP kicks off Year 3 with more disaggregated optical specs

TIP disaggregated optical
Image credit: TIP

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) – the cross-industry community spearheaded by Facebook to develop open-source telecoms gear – has kicked off its third annual summit in London with some key announcements involving disaggregated cell site gateways and a module interface for disaggregated optical systems.

In the first announcement, Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, and TIM Brazil pledged to work with TIP to define the next generation of open, disaggregated and interoperable devices for cell site gateways, which will in turn offer an open infrastructure option that promises more choices, faster innovation and faster time-to-market.

Put simply, disaggregated cell site gateways enable operators to build cost-efficient best-of-breed 4G and 5G networks quickly without worrying about vendor lock-in.

Vodafone spearheaded the project earlier this year as part of TIP’s Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) project group. Since then, Orange, Telefonica and TIM Brazil have joined in, and TIP says at least some of the four operators have issued requests for information (RFIs) “seeking information from potential supplier partners on various aspects of the system including hardware, network operating system, protocol support, dynamic configurability, and manageability, leveraging the existing ecosystem of software, hardware and system integrator partners.”

Meanwhile, two supplier partners – ADVA Optical Networking and Edgecore Networks – have already started working on the design and contribution to TIP of “Odyssey-DCSG”, the first cellular gateway device based on their specs

The other big announcement at the TIP Summit – also via OOPT – is the creation of a transponder abstraction interface (TAI) for optical modules via a project led by NTT and Cumulus Networks.

The TAI – developed in collaboration Acacia Communications, Edgecore, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Optical Components, IP Infusion, Microsoft and Oclaro – is designed to address the problem of integrating a network operating system with underlying optical components, which is typically a time-consuming endeavour.

The TAI enables uniform integration of optical subsystems and modules, removing the software development work for network OS vendors to support new hardware. That allows optical system vendors to more easily take their solutions to market with existing network software that can support them out of the box.

The concept is similar to the SAI (switch abstraction interface), a similar software interface construct for switch ASICs initiated by Microsoft a few years ago, which was the inspiration for the TAI project, TIP says.

The companies have also developed the first open-source implementations of the TAI interface.

As for the summit, a blog post from TIP chairman Axel Clauberg (who is also VP of technology innovation at Deutsche Telekom) highlighted the group’s achievements in the past year:

Five TIP Project Groups — mmWave Networks, Open Optical Packet Transport, OpenCellular, OpenRAN and vRAN Fronthaul — all have technologies in trials with operators around the world.

All the details are here.

NOTE: As a point of interest, TIP has also launched a separate website that focuses specifically on their various RAN-related projects.

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