Cumulus, Vodafone Trial ‘Boundary Busting’ Optical Networking

Created July 4, 2018
Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s Group Head of Networks Strategy and ArchitectureNews and Business

Web scale networking specialist Cumulus Networks and Vodafone have concluded a successful live trial that could transform the boundaries of optical networking. The duo conducted the trial with the Facebook-designed Voyager optical “whitebox,” the industry’s first open packet-optical transport system. Voyager was initially contributed by Facebook to The Telecom Infra Project (TIP), a community focused on accelerating the pace of innovation in the telecom industry.

Presently, several companies are working together on the development of the Voyager platform. According to the trial architects, the success of the test demonstrates the readiness of the Voyager technology, and its possibility to transform the boundaries of optical networks for telecommunications companies around the world.

With the increased demand for Internet and bandwidth-intensive apps on mobile devices, companies like Vodafone are seeking a scalable yet cost-effective long-haul interconnect solution to bring a disaggregated networking model to optical networks. The goal of the live trial was to showcase the future of applying this approach to optical networks, and to provide more flexibility to handle real time dynamics using Voyager, combined with a Software Defined Network (SDN) controller. Vodafone used the Voyager devices with a network OS by Cumulus Networks and a NetOS SDN orchestration from Zeetta Networks on a live network in Spain. With the support of ADVA as one of the architects of the platform, the trial demonstrated how the solution can be implemented over an existing optical infrastructure, reportedly yielding positive, impactful results.

The results of the trial include:

– Demonstrated ability to deliver 800 Gbits/s per rack

– Demonstrated ability to dynamically adapt the system modulation as fibre conditions changed

– Use of SDN principles to conduct real-time monitoring of the optical line performance

– Proved that “a live network can set up optical services and keep them running”

– Reduced unnecessary and lengthy customer service interruptions

– Improved utilisation of the network.

“We wanted to show how Voyager’s variable-rate transceivers can be used to match speeds and modulation formats with actual line conditions,” says Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s Group Head of Networks Strategy and Architecture. “Thanks to a streamlined network operating system and SDN automation, we showed how our live network can set-up optical services and keep them running, reduce unnecessary and lengthy customer service interruptions, and improve network utilisation.”


This article was written
by John Williamson

John Williamson is a freelance telecommunications, IT and military communications journalist. He has also written for national and international media, and been a telecoms advisor to the World Bank.