ETSI, one of the most respected specifications organizations in the communications networking industry, has launched a new group focused on the evolution of fixed networks in a move that highlights the importance of fiber architectures and in-building connectivity to a broader 5G world.
But while fixed line infrastructure is as important as ever, does it need its own ETSI group?
The group, dubbed ISG F5G (industry specification group for the fifth generation of fixed network), will be headed by Dr. Luca Pesando, a standards work coordinator at Italian national operator TIM: Pesando is also an active participant in ETSI's ENI (Experiential Networked Intelligence) group that is examining the use of AI techniques in network management processes. (See ETSI launches new group on fifth-generation fixed network.)
The group has defined five work items, namely (and as defined by ETSI):
F5G use cases: the use cases include services to consumers and enterprises and will be selected based on their impact in terms of new technical requirements identified.
Landscape of F5G technology and standards: this work will study technology requirements for F5G use cases, explore existing technologies, and perform the gap analysis.
Definition of fixed network generations: to evaluate the driving forces and the path of fixed network evolution, including transport, access and on-premises networks. It will also identify the principal characteristics demarcating different generations and define them.
Architecture of F5G: this will specify the end to end network architectures, features and related network devices/elements' requirements for F5G, including on-premises, Access, IP and Transport Networks.
F5G quality of experience: to specify the end-to-end quality of experience (QoE) factors for new broadband services. It will analyze the general factors that impact service performance and identify the relevant QoE dimensions for each service.
ETSI also notes that the F5G will be looking at "a wide range of technologies, and therefore seeks to actively cooperate with a number of relevant standardization groups as well as vertical industrial organizations," noting in an emailed response to questions that the "ITU-T, IEEE, TM Forum, IEEE, IETF, CCSA [China Communications Standards Association] and Broadband Forum" are the main potential collaborators identified, as well as the 3GPP and other ETSI groups.
But the question is: What value does this ETSI group bring to the fixed line, fiber and broadband ecosystem? What is it doing that isn't already being done by other groups, in particular the Broadband Forum?
ETSI believes it is adding value: "Performing a gap analysis to identify potential enhancements to existing specifications (of any of the relevant SDOs) and development of new specifications," was the response that stood out, while "exploring relevant F5G scenarios and use cases including home, business and multiple vertical industries" and "studying the overall framework, outlining the complete F5G technology landscape" were also cited as differentiators.
Whether that's enough to meet the needs of the market and deliver value to the market will, ultimately, be decided by the market and the members, which at launch include two of the main Chinese national operators as well as Italy's TIM, Turk Telekom, Bouygues Telecom, Altice Portugal, a few other operators and members of the vendor community (including Huawei). If the group attracts other big name members then it will be doing the right things.
(For the record, the list of initial members is: Association eG4U, Altice Portugal, Bouygues Telecom, BTC, Cadzow Communications, CAICT, CATT, China Unicom, China Telecommunications, CICT, ECO, Fraunhofer HHI, Futurewei, Huawei Technologies, JSPRC Kryptonite, POST Luxembourg, Rostelecom, TIM and Turk Telekomunikasyon.)
Initial member representatives gather in Sophia Antipolis, France, on February 21 for the F5G ISG 'kick off' meeting.
ETSI has a track record in forming important industry development groups and identifying emerging areas of the sector that require close analysis – it was at the forefront of NFV developments and recently formed the Securing Artificial Intelligence group, a move described by one seasoned analyst as an "exceptionally important specification group." (See BT, NCSC, Huawei take lead roles at ETSI's AI security specs group and ETSI Tackles AI Security.)
But do we need an ISG on fixed networks? The jury's out…
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, special to Broadband World News
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