NTT lays groundwork for next cloud developers, conducts open APN PoC

NTT Corporation has worked in collaboration with Ciena Corporation, Fujitsu and NEC to conduct a joint Proof of Concept (PoC) showcasing an open APN as defined by the IOWN Global Forum (IOWN GF), or the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum as it is known in full.

An open APN?

Key to emerging developer-related technologies centralising around egde computing, mobile computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), an Access Point Name (APN) is the name of a gateway between a GSM (Global System for Mobile communications), GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), 3G and 4G mobile network and another computer network, frequently the public Internet.

NTT says it will now conduct a field test of its on-demand wavelength connection technologies to expand the application areas of APN.

As detailed here, “An Access Point Name (APN) provides all the details that your device needs to connect to mobile data. If you are setting up a new device or putting your SIM card into a device for the first time, your network operator should send you their APN details in a configuration message.

The company will also beef up its capability of developing photonic-electronic convergence devices by welcoming fJscaler Inc. as a subsidiary.

What is photonics?

As noted here on EE Times, “Photonics computing is a formidable high-bandwidth technology that promises to replace traditional electronic computing components. The benefits are achieved by rethinking today’s standard copper wires and silicon-based chips, which were designed to carry electrons. Instead, silicon-based chips, glass-based chips and fibre-based devices can process light-carried information at a higher capacity.”

As society becomes increasingly information-oriented, NTT reminds us that AI and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies are being incorporated into our daily lives. This (of course) means that the amount of data handled has been increasing rapidly and so datacenters often reach their capacity limit, causing users to frequently connect new datacentres with existing ones.

Cloud developers’ next move

To take a working example of how cloud developers will be tasked in the immediate future – let’s think about the fact that robot-assisted surgery systems have started gaining traction. But, the operators of such systems want to make them remotely operable to train more surgeons and save more people. However, this requires high-speed and low-latency network connections.

In a move designed to address the above demands, in January 2022, IOWN GF released the Open All Photonics Network (APN) Functional Architecture, which defines the functional architecture of a new network that creates high-speed and low-latency connections between communication endpoints. Datacenters or hospitals may serve as communication endpoints and this architecture leverages optical transport and switching technologies.

According to a technical statement from NTT, “The network nodes defined in the Open APN Functional Architecture can be constructed from the Open ROADM MSAs standard components, which are available from global optical product vendors such as Ciena, Fujitsu and NEC. To prove the viability and operability of Open APN, NTT [is working to] conduct a PoC jointly with Ciena, Fujitsu, NEC and other companies.”

The PoC will validate wavelength connection creation/deletion functions and evaluate the performance of optical communications in terms of throughput, delay and jitter.

Upbeat about the whole project, NTT says that the PoC should prove that Open APN is implementable and operable with products already available in the global market and encourage many organisations in the world to build and implement Open APN.

Future prospects

Future APNs will be capable of managing optical communication resources in cooperation with radio communication systems including 5G and beyond 5G. 

Going forward, we may see (as is suggested at all levels by the companies involved here) that APN will become the infrastructure for future societies, enabling high-capacity, low-latency, energy-efficient communications for both fixed and mobile devices.

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