Vodafone and Huawei have conducted a successful field trial of Fixed Access Network Slicing.
The virtual access network solution partitions a physical FTTH network into multiple virtual network slices, creating multi-tenancy virtualisation of the access network. This is designed to give 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. According to Huawei, this allows converged operators to optimise 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.
The test was carried out at Vodafone Ireland with Huawei teams supporting the joint initiative. 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 standardised 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’s 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.
“Vodafone has deployed several FTTH networks around the world, and many of these are with partners,” points out Matt Beal, Director of Strategy & Architecture, Vodafone Group Technology. “Virtualisation 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.”