Independent operators can share one wholesale FTTH fibre, Vodafone trial shows

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 Siro.

“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 Suceveanu.

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.”

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