Vodafone and Huawei claim to have conducted a successful field trial of Fixed Access Network Slicing. The virtual access network solution partitions a physical fibre to the home (FTTH) network into multiple virtual network slices, creating multi-tenancy virtualization of the access network. This gives flexibility and full control for different operations teams (be they from different departments in the same company or from different service providers) to independently manage their own customers, even if there is only one physical access network. For example, consumer and enterprise customers plus mobile backhaul connections can be securely provisioned and dynamically configured by their own respective operating teams. This allows converged operators to optimize their business practices and operational processes across different business areas. It also has the potential to facilitate new joint-venture and co-investment partner models for operating FTTH networks. (See: All You need to know about network slicing.)
The test was carried out at Vodafone Ireland. Separate consumer and enterprise virtual network slices were created on a live FTTH network. The consumer slice carried broadband internet and Vodafone TV services whereas the enterprise slice carried OneNet business services including voice.
The architecture and equipment requirements for Fixed Access Network Sharing (FANS) have only recently been standardized by the Broadband Forum in its TR-370 Technical Report, which was led by Vodafone Group.
The virtual access network trial was carried out on Huawei MA5800, a new-generation smart optical line terminal (OLT). The MA5800 uses a distributed architecture similar to a core router, which can partition a physical OLT into multiple logically-independent virtual OLTs. Different logical OLTs have independent hardware resources and software systems, and can be separately managed and configured. The trial results showed the successful operation of MA5800 virtual access network architecture.
Matt Beal, Director of Strategy & Architecture, Vodafone Group Technology said: “Vodafone has deployed several FTTH networks around the world and many of these are with partners. Virtualization of the fixed access network will help us build and fill FTTH networks in a more cost-effective way that takes advantage of new operating models where both Vodafone and its deployment partners are able to differentiate their services over the shared fibre infrastructure.”
“The introduction of the access virtualization technology is an important step for our commitment to be at the forefront of technological innovation. This will translate into a better network experience offered to our fixed customers,” said Madalina Suceveanu, Vodafone Ireland Technology Director. “We are committed in supporting the key stakeholders in further developing the technology with a view of deployment in networks in Ireland and across other markets in the near future.”
Jeff Wang, President of Huawei Access Network, said: “We are delighted to continue to collaborate with Vodafone on network slicing. The solution can provide independent operation and maintenance management for multi-services bearing, and it can help to improve equipment efficiency, reduce operation and maintenance costs and achieve business success.”