Against the backdrop of continued traffic growth driven by consumer demand for immersive online experiences, the widespread availability of fast, reliable and cost-effective connectivity services has never been more important. The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Fixed Broadband Project Group has established the Open Fixed Access Networks sub-group, a collaboration between major industry players including Telefonica, TIM and Vodafone.

Working together, this sub-group is looking to address the specific challenges that are most meaningful when building and scaling their access networks to meet consumer demands. Their work will focus on improving interoperability and diversity in the access network, accelerating innovation through modernisation of operations and deployment architectures, and boosting capacity in the last mile through transition from GPON to XGS-PON.

The group has released the Open Fixed Access Networks Use Case Document, which describes:

  • The objectives and motivations for this new area of work
  • The most common deployment models adopted by operators today
  • The core characteristics of solutions that can be deployed to address these objectives.

Bruno Cornaglia, fixed access senior manager at Vodafone said, “In Vodafone, we see that openness and disaggregation are key principles that allow us to build the flexible and agile network we need to support our evolving customer needs. Our work in this area complements similar work elsewhere in the network, for example with OOPT and OpenRAN, and we’re excited that this project will help realize these same benefits in the fixed access network.”

Paolo Pellegrino, access innovation project manager at TIM said, “The disaggregation of OLTs represents a valuable opportunity to broaden the telecoms supply chain, which we’ve seen has become more important than ever during recent times. TIM is excited about the opportunities to work with a new generation of hardware and software suppliers who can bring innovative solutions that will help us build more cost-effective and efficient networks.”

Jose Torrijos Gijon, technology expert, Telefonica GCTIO said, “At Telefonica we fully support this new project as the next step towards the commercialisation and deployment of technologies based on robust and mature industry standards. Ultimately we believe the Open Fixed Access Networks project will play a critical role in the adoption of new technologies and new services as we prepare for the next stage of evolution in our access networks.”

Why Open Fixed Access Networks?

The objective for this work is to drive the deployment of open, disaggregated and interoperable access technologies. These technologies will enable:

  • Interoperability between multiple supplier solutions, focusing on interworking between OLT and ONT/ONU, as well as integration with SDN controllers
  • Disaggregation of hardware and software, removing vendor lock-in and enabling operators to ‘mix and match’ supplier solutions based on evolving operational needs
  • Improved operating efficiencies, enabling new operating paradigms delivered using more effective and efficient devices, and implemented using new technical architectures.

Next Steps

The operators will now move to develop the technical requirements for their first use case; a ‘pizza box’ OLT that can be deployed in a local exchange environment. They expect to issue an RFI to establish the technical capability and readiness of suppliers to deliver such a solution later in 2022, with test and validation of the most suitable solutions to follow.