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Verizon Wants a prpl Tinge to Its Residential Gateways

Ray Le Maistre
10/15/2019

AMSTERDAM -- Broadband World Forum -- Verizon issued a clarion call here in Amsterdam Tuesday morning to get the world's fixed broadband access network operators to support a residential gateway API development underway at open source group prpl Foundation.

Verizon wants to do more with its residential gateways -- in particular it wants to be able to add extra applications so it can develop a broader smart home story for its customers. But currently there is no consistency in the home gateway technology market: Lance Koenders, Verizon's Director, Broadband & Gaming, voiced his frustration at this, as anything between 70% and 90% of the code used by all residential gateway vendors is essentially the same, just slightly modified in each instance. "It's crazy that there's differentiation on what should be standard features," he noted.

As a result, operators work with a small number of home gateway suppliers, but any application developer wanting to write code to run on a home gateway has to amend its code to work on each platform, and that stifles innovation.

"We need more standardization in [home] router platforms," he stated.

But that's easier said than done. So, without any fanfare or public announcement, Verizon earlier this year joined the prpl Foundation as a Platinum member and is working with the other members -- mostly vendors but BT and Vodafone are also on board -- to help develop a standard home gateway API that would enable any application to be loaded onto a residential gateway and enable differentiation on specific services. "There's a lot going on currently in device identification and AI-based mesh networks," he noted, but to take advantage of that innovation "we need standard APIs and be able to add containers onto the box… applications need to be able to live at the edge as well as at the data center."

But for anything meaningful to happen, more support is needed for the prpl Foundation's work. "We need others to join to get scale," noted Koenders.

He says there are about seven other major operators that are participating currently in the developments, but he wouldn't name names, which suggests they're just flirting and haven't actually joined. One of those may be Charter Communications, which earlier this year flirted with the idea of getting involved.

While Verizon, which has more than 6.1 million Fios broadband customers, waits for other operators to join the prpl gang, early "high level" API specifications have already been developed and will be reviewed by the Foundation's members next week, but Koenders estimates it will likely be a year before a code stack will be ready for any production deployments.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner
10/15/2019 | 12:53:11 PM
Pressure on RDK-B?
Interesting move if Verizon really gets behind prpl as it would put some pressure on RDK-B's efforts to dominate the market for open source broadband gateway software. JB 
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