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Broadband Forum ushers in next-gen network operations
Wed, 7th Feb 2024

Broadband Forum has announced a significant development in the broadband network industry with the launch of their new TR-477 and MR-477 standards.

According to Broadband Forum, this specification will allow network operators a migration pathway from existing Access Nodes to a software-driven model approach. Access Nodes, known for being key components in a broadband network that aggregate thousands of access lines and process data packets, represent one of the greatest network investments made by an operator.

The new standards are set to refine network operations by enabling the separation of management and control planes, thus uncoupling the hardware and centralizing the software within a CloudCO architecture. As a result, this will offer a greater diversity of suppliers, achieving operational and capital savings while simultaneously reducing the time required to launch market products, Broadband Forum said. 

"SDN-enabled Access Node disaggregation introduces new flexibility in the deployment of the management and control planes," stated Bruno Cornaglia of Vodafone, who also serves as a Broadband Forum SDN/NFV Work Area Director. He further added, "The latest standard will help network operators protect their investments, diversify the supply chain, and accelerate the transition to new physical layer access technologies."

Mengmeng Li of China Mobile who, like Cornaglia, is also a Broadband Forum SDN/NFV Work Area Director, acknowledged the economic and technical benefits of comparing different products in a multi-vendor environment. He emphasised, "Vendors can also be assured of a one-time development cost with standardized disaggregated Access Node architecture, interfaces, and protocols as it allows interoperability between control plane and user plane elements."

By implementing an Access Node disaggregation, the complex operations will be simplified through automation of workflows, configuration, and maintenance tasks by adopting standards-based interfaces. This approach consolidates the operation to a single, common, and software-defined Central Office. The new set up enables a single point for service provisioning that can be quickly rolled out to all subscribers,

A host of business benefits stands behind the Broadband Forum's specification work promoted by a multi-vendor, multi-technology CloudCO architecture. CloudCO is a pioneering reference architecture that allows network operators in the broadband industry to modernize central office infrastructure and move towards disaggregated network functionality.

The Broadband Forum continues to be at the forefront of the industry, constantly propelling advancement in the broadband network's landscape through collaborative projects. The newly introduced standards significantly step up the game, marking a new era in efficient, flexible, and cost-effective network management.