& cplSiteName &

AT&T Hits Milestone on Software-Defined Access

Carol Wilson
10/5/2017
50%
50%

AT&T today is releasing a major hardware abstraction framework for XGS-PON into the Open Networking Foundation, laying further groundwork for software-defined networking control of a common access architecture.

The release of VOLTHA 1.0 -- which is pronounced Volt-HA and stands for Virtual Optical Line Terminal Hardware Abstraction -- is a follow-on to hardware specifications AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) already submitted to the Open Compute Project and continues the work of the network operator and its vendor and carrier partners to define the access architecture of the future. It is currently operating in AT&T's Labs and will be in two field trials -- in Atlanta and Dallas -- by year's end. (See AT&T Embracing Software-Defined Access).

That future architecture needs to support any media -- fiber, copper or wireless -- and must be software-defined and multivendor, breaking down the current system of managing each access vendor's gear with its own element management and network management systems. As explained by Eddy Barker, AVP for technology design and architecture at AT&T, VOLTHA 1.0 goes a long way in this direction.

"What VOLTHA does is allow us to abstract out those common commands that should work with any kind of standard equipment -- some that is software VNFs, [virtual network functions] some is physical hardware," he told Light Reading in an interview. "It essentially allows us to go out and talk to that equipment with its interface type. What this is allowing us to do is create the ecosystem that gives us a software infrastructure layer that is common, and it is open source, although commercialized."

Currently VOLTHA 1.0 has the capability of talking to gear from seven different OLT makers to support XGS-PON, he says. VOLTHA can take in standard generic command structures and adapt them to specific silicon in a white box it controls, as well as any software applications.


Want to know more about gigabit strategies? Check out our dedicated gigabit content channel here on Light Reading.


The longer-term view involves a totally SDN-controlled architecture, linked to the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) for orchestration, with access, metro and long-haul networks engaged on an end-to-end basis. What this hardware abstraction framework specifically addresses is a key piece of the access network, which will become more important as 5G comes to market and connecting more diverse cellsites becomes a priority.

AT&T has been working with CORD and the ON.lab (now merged into the Open Networking Foundation ) on virtualizing pieces of the access network from some time, and Barker stresses that many partners, both vendors and other network operators, have been engaged in this work as well.

"This first instantiation is based on FTTP and OLTs, hence the name VOLTHA ," he says. "But it is based upon trying to control any type of access. And so ultimately, the goal is to have a system that can send out standard command structures that provision or trouble shoot or collect data."

It would enable AT&T or other operators to mix and match not just gear from multiple vendors but ultimately different types of access media on a common infrastructure. The intent is to be able to support any type of service -- business, residential or wireless backhaul -- on a common access architecture.

"Once it is released to the community, we can essentially load VOLTHA with an ONOS SDN controller and use the same commands and hit OLTs from seven different manufacturers' white and gray boxes -- and they will also hear the same command structure and respond to it," Barker says. This more generic approach will speed up the time-to-market for new features and new equipment and "will eventually have an interface up to ONAP, to put together that end-to-end ecosystem so we can start to recognize that operational savings through reducing the complexity and orchestrating more of how we manage our networks."

AT&T will also be announcing this with Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) later this month at the Broadband World Forum in Berlin, Barker says.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
richardjews
100%
0%
richardjews,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/6/2017 | 4:31:44 AM
At&t Wireless
At&t wireless is also taking place in this more or less situation and in my size/view it comes up with new era to present the technology to the next level
Carol Wilson
100%
0%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
10/5/2017 | 11:25:24 AM
AT&T's blog on the topic
I meant to include this link to Eddy's blog:

 

http://about.att.com/innovationblog/voltha
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Juniper Turns Contrail Into a Platform for Multicloud
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 12/12/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed