Viavi and Microsemi to build 5G ecosystem

07 March 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

Viavi Solutions is partnering with Microsemi, a provider of semiconductor solutions to develop flexible optical networking technologies for 5G.

Using Viavi’s ONT-600 Flex-E solution and Microsemi’s DIGI-G5 offering the new 5G ecosystem will enable telecom service providers to build, test and deploy 5G-ready optical networks including OTUCn, Flexible OTN (FlexO) and Flexible Ethernet (FlexE) technologies.

Andreas Schubert 200 x 200Speaking exclusively to Capacity, Andreas Schubert, senior product manager at Viavi Solutions, said: "With this press release we see two things. First of all we see the investment of (Optical Transport Network) OTN. Investment like this hasn’t been seen since around 2010. The second is that both Microsemi and Viavi were talking about a FlexE technology which is an Ethernet-based technology and China Mobile wants to use this application for 5G."

"As service providers look to scale up their optical networks in preparation for 5G, our customers need new OTN 3.0 capabilities delivering rate-agile flexible connectivity underpinned by OTN switching at terabit capacities to market," said Babak Samimi, vice president and business unit manager for Microsemi’s communications business unit. "With the ecosystem in place between Microsemi and VIAVI, leading OTN transport OEMs can begin development of a new wave of products that enable support for OTUCn, FlexE and FlexO capabilities this year."

As communication service providers test 5G network requirements, the transport network becomes a key focus of that, necessitating an architecture capable of supporting bandwidth, traffic modelling, network slicing, latency and time synchronisation features. China Mobile is planning to adopt Slicing Packet Network (SPN) with FlexE for its 5G transport network, while other carriers like China Telecom are pursuing OTN with enhancements like Mobile optimised OTN (M-OTN).

"What’s also coming in now is that 5G is getting two flavours," added Schubert. "One coming from China Mobile,the other is coming very strongly from China Telecom. They want to have OTN-based 5G. It’s still very early as it’s still in the development stage, it’s not yet in the field that will come later on."

"VIAVI is pleased to be part of the ecosystem with Microsemi to support the network requirements of leading carriers worldwide," said Tom Fawcett, vice president and general manager of the lab and production business unit at VIAVI Solutions. "The advent of 5G will require robust, scalable and coordinated technology development across the entire industry. Our technology leadership and deep relationships make us the ideal partner for this initiative."

Despite the technical benefits of a partnership between the two, Schubert says that Microsemi has been a long-time collaborator with Viavi and they share many of the same customers who were all asking for the same solution. Adding: "the partnership had to be one that could benefit us and them as well."

Schubert spoke about how IoT is impacting business at Viavi to which he replied: "When people speak about IoT they speak about the user part, the wireless part. What we need and what we’re focusing on is the core network, we need new technologies, we need enhancements for functionality. IoT is a driving factor but in the sense that we’re doing the heavy lifting carrying everything from point A to point B."

But on the network side he says it’s more about the functionality of IoT not the volume of it that poses the biggest problems.

"From a volume perspective I think that will be feasible but the other aspects such as delay times, the need to optimise the networks," said Schubert "We have to build more infrastructure, we need to roll-out more fibre out over time."

Viavi’s ONT-600 Flex-E solution has the industry’s first 400G support to include forward error correction (FEC), PAM4 modulation, and now with complete support of all 400G transponder form factors including CFP8, QSFPDD, and OSFP. The ONT can also scale with a range of applications to address inflection points such as FlexE, OTUCn and FlexO.

As for Microsemi’s DIGI-G5 OTN processor, it delivers up to 1.2Tbps of combined OTN and client interfaces, and according to the company is first to market with newly standardised 25 Gigabit Ethernet (GE), 50GE, 200GE, 400GE, Flexible OTN (FlexO & OTUCn) and FlexE with an integrated security engine enabling flexible encrypted optical connections. DIGI-G5 enables packet optical transport platforms to triple in capacity while slashing power consumption by 50% per port.

Schubert says that the new solution will have some security-based enhancements for sure, but "we’re a little bit too early in the development stage to really know what that will be."

But the plan for the rest of the year is "standardisation and getting the technology to market with installation hopefully by 2019."

Topics: Viavi Solutions, 5G, Microsemi, Andreas Schubert, Tom Fawcett, Babak Samimi, FlexE, OTN