Vodafone trials disaggregated broadband gateway with Nokia, Cisco

A vocal advocate for open RAN in wireless, Vodafone is now seeking to apply the same principle of broadband network gateway sharing (BNG), a move it said will make it easier to implement and scale new features and add capacity for users.

The operator joined forces with Nokia, Cisco, Casa Systems and Benu Networks on what it claimed was the first test of the Broadband Forum’s TR-459 standard, which enables control and user plan separation (CUPS). In the trial, Vodafone said it was able to validate a split BNG system that lets it use software and hardware from multiple vendors and run core control features to the cloud gateway.

Within the network, BNG acts as the portal through which subscribers gain access to the Internet, which sits at the intersection of aggregated network traffic flows and the individual subscriber session.

Ken Ko, CEO of Broadband Forum, told Fierce that BNG has traditionally been a “monolithic device”, meaning operators may have to buy another BNG if they want to scale or add capacity. This in turn can leave them with control flight capacity that they do not need, but which they have paid for anyway.

RELATED: Broadband Forum debuts BNG Disaggregation project

But with a split BNG, operators can implement the control and user planes in a new way, centralize the former and deploy the latter to reap countless benefits, he said. For example, the user plane can be inserted closer to the customer, providing improved performance for users and allowing the operator to scale in more flexible steps.

In addition, by centralizing the control plan, operators not only achieve economies of scale, but can also eliminate the need to create a control plan for each BNG rolled out. Ko pointed to improved resilience and streamlined orchestration as two other benefits of the split BNG.

For its part, Vodafone argued that fragmented GNPs would also enable “greater technological innovation from a more diverse supply chain” by lowering development costs for new and existing ecosystem players. It also highlighted the potential for deeper integration with 5G, as the same control and user plan separation technology is also defined by 3GPP.

Ko said the test “is a really important milestone”, adding “just the fact that we have all these players working together on this test shows that we are coming to real implementable solutions.”

A representative of Vodafone told Fierce that there are already commercially available products for split BNGs and the next step towards implementations in the network is “to move from laboratory tests to network cards for concepts. This is planned to take place in the coming months . “

Vach Kompella, VP and GM of Nokia’s IP Networks Business Division, concluded in a statement that the vendor “envisages a significant development in BNG architecture with the introduction of CUPS in fixed, wireless and 5G fixed wireless applications, enabling fast introduction of features, optimal user flight placement and selection as well as improved operations. ”

This story has been updated to include a comment from a Vodafone representative.

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