19 January 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Different telecoms operators could share capacity on a single fibre serving an apartment block or even a single home, thanks to a development by Vodafone and Huawei.
The companies say they have conducted a successful field
trial of fixed access network slicing. This is where a single
physical fibre to the home (FTTH) network is divided into
multiple virtual network slices, creating what they call
"multi-tenancy virtualisation" of the access network.
This "is an important step for our commitment to be at the
forefront of technological innovation," said Madalina
Suceveanu, technology director at Vodafone Ireland, where the
work was carried out.
Vodafone Ireland is working in a joint venture with electricity
company ESB to build a wholesale national fibre project, called
"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," said
According to the companies, they created separate consumer and
enterprise virtual network slices 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.
"Vodafone has deployed several FTTH networks around the world
and many of these are with partners," said Matt Beal, director
of strategy and architecture at 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."
The trial used what Huawei calls a smart optical line terminal,
which uses a distributed architecture similar to a core router,
which can partition a physical terminal into multiple
logically-independent virtual terminals.
Different logical terminals have independent hardware resources
and software systems, and can be separately managed and
configured, said Huawei.
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."