Deutsche Telekom (DT) recently announced its Access 4.0 (A4) platform began providing services to customers in Stuttgart in December 2020. This marks a major milestone in DT’s efforts building a state-of-the-art disaggregated broadband solution that blends open source and vendor proprietary components into a production-grade highly optimized solution for providing FTTx services.
Deutsche Telekom’s Access 4.0 is the next generation of software-defined access networking. The program constitutes a true paradigm shift, not only in terms of technology but also ecosystem, collaboration, and agility. By leveraging an edge cloud approach, we create a cost-efficient, lean-to-operate, and scalable access platform to deliver gigabit products. It works in our labs and in an early field trial.
A key foundational building block of A4 is ONF’s Virtual OLT Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) open source software controlled by the ONF’s ONOS SDN Controller and a set of ONOS Apps. This VOLTHA stack enables operators to extend software defined programming to the fixed access network, and makes it possible to embrace a best-of-breed approach to selection of white box network equipment. In addition to this open source stack, ONF’s SDN-Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA) Reference Design documents the architecture and framework used to assemble open solutions such as DT’s.
VOLTHA™ is an open source project to create a hardware abstraction for broadband access equipment. It supports the principle of multi-vendor, disaggregated, “any broadband access as a service” for the Central Office. VOLTHA currently provides a common, vendor agnostic, GPON control and management system, for a set of white-box and vendor-specific PON hardware devices. With the upcoming introduction of access Technology Profiles, VOLTHA will support other access technologies like EPON, NG-PON2 and G.Fast as well.
VOLTHA, operational in the A4 network, has been developed as a joint effort between ONF, ONF operator partners (particularly AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and Turk Telekom), and additional members and vendors in the VOLTHA ecosystem. The role of the operators is key in shaping the architecture and requirements for VOLTHA and SEBA with their sharing of insight learned in field trials and early commercial deployments. This collaboration has helped to improve, harden and scale VOLTHA and SEBA.
SEBA™ is a lightweight platform based on a variant of R-CORD. It supports a multitude of virtualized access technologies at the edge of the carrier network, including PON, G.Fast, and eventually DOCSIS and more. SEBA supports both residential access and wireless backhaul and is optimized such that traffic can run ‘fastpath’ straight through to the backbone without requiring VNF processing on a server.
- Kubernetes based
- High Speed
- Operationalized with FCAPS and OSS Integration
“Deutsche Telekom is reaching an important milestone in its transformation into a software-based telecommunications provider,” explains Walter Goldenits, CTO Telekom Deutschland, adding, “We are thus consistently shaping the path taken by the industry toward solutions based on open and disaggregated components in the fixed network area as well.”
Abdurazak Mudesir, head of Services & Platforms and Access Disaggregation at Deutsche Telekom Technik, adds: “Disaggregation is now a reality. For the first time we’re producing a BNG on Whitebox hardware and are using software-defined networking technology to control that gateway. That’s a hugely important step toward our broadband network’s future structure. With the software-defined approach of Access 4.0 we’re driving forward automation and can implement lean processes ourselves in combination with our OSS platforms.”
Access 4.0 is primarily tailored to Deutsche Telekom’s broadband internet access for FTTH/B. This use case marks, however, just the start of the transformation. The underlying A4 platform technology should in future be able to support other applications at the network edge, especially in the 5G and Open RAN environment. The next step will see the project team focus on honing the platform for rollout in other regions.