Vodafone selects Nokia software-defined tech for fixed access network

Mobile operator signs exclusive deal with comms tech provider on the evolution of software-defined network manager and controller (SDN-M&C) services for multi-access fixed network technology

In a collaboration that is effectively a proof-of-concept trial for both firms, Vodafone and Nokia are working together on the evolution of software-defined network manager and controller (SDN-M&C) services for the mobile network operator’s multi-access fixed network technology.

In addition to its multi-territory mobile presence, Vodafone is one of the largest fixed access providers in Europe, with 143 million marketable next-generation network (NGN) broadband homes.

In September 2021, Vodafone announced it was working with Nokia and other partners for new broadband standards to pave the way for faster, open broadband networks. The new SDN management and control functions will be used to simplify, automate, visualise, optimise and enhance Vodafone’s broadband networks, and support its strategy of providing network-as-a-platform (NaaP) and other customisable services. Based on the successful outcome of these trials, Vodafone and Nokia aim to deploy the technology more widely later in 2022.

“We are driving simplification and automation throughout our network and IT systems across Europe and Africa to further improve the customer experience and support the growing number of connected devices,” said Gavin Young, head of fixed access centre of excellence at Vodafone.

“The last few years have proven that the resilience of economies depends on our ability to quickly respond to changing societal needs. Nokia’s Altiplano solution will enable us to help our customers adapt to new developments even quicker,” he added.

Vodafone is using the Altiplano SDN-M&C to build a single-pane-of-glass controller to automate its network operations. Vodafone is said to have selected Altiplano for what Nokia calls its “unique” capability to work across its multi-generational, multi-technology and multi-supplier access networks.

Nokia’s solution is compliant with Broadband Forum Cloud CO (TR-384, Cloud Central Office Reference Architectural Framework), including support for streaming telemetry, data analytics, closed loop automation (CLA), and artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is also based on the concept of intent-based networking (IBN) providing abstract business intent lifecycle management.

“Our SDN-M&C platform is built with openness in mind. Nokia’s SDN Controller platform provides open and standardised application programming interface,s and leverages open source where applicable,” said Sandy Motley, president of fixed networks at Nokia.

“Our Altiplano Access Controller can manage and control any SDN-native, disaggregated, legacy and third-party equipment, and is highly customisable to suit operator needs now and in the future. In addition to the rich set of built-in applications, our customers can add their own or third-party applications to customise and further automate the network.”

As it released details of its partnership with Vodafone, Nokia also announced that it had been selected by Malaysian operator TIME for the supply and delivery of a dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) optical network. With a roll-out across Malaysia, Nokia will help the Kuala Lumpur-based firm meet fast-growing traffic demands by enhancing connectivity across datacentres and cable landing stations in Malaysia with a highly resilient optical network.

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