The Broadband Forum (BBF) has formed a new steering group to help define the manner in which connectivity and virtualized services are bought and sold by service providers worldwide.
The BBF's Service Provider Action Council (SPAC) is behind the initiative, which seeks to create a common buying and selling framework for providers and a common language between proprietary systems.
The first step of the steering group will be to determine the scope and nature of the effort, potential operating processes and launch timelines. The goal is to complete these initial items by March 2017.
Robin Mersh, CEO of the BBF, said the pace would pick up after March. He then expects the group to take on a life of its own and become more independent as this new market takes form.
"The BBF was a good vehicle to 'nurture' this because of its bylaws, IP policy and anti-trust rules. Of course, on top of that is the existence of an independent service provider group fully constituted in the BBF," Mersh commented.
CEO Robin Mersh believes the Broadband Forum is a good place to nurture the Service Provider Action Council (SPAC).
He used the airline industry as an example of what the committee ultimately hopes to achieve.
"Today, connecting flights and cooperative agreements are taken for granted, allowing customers choice and reliability, and that is where we need to get to in the telecom industry," Mersh said.
He explained that the service provider community has recognized that the challenge in the industry is to develop a market for connectivity and virtualized services beyond any one market segment or geographic region.
"This group of service providers will look to drive a common framework for services and functions across the traditionally separately, engineered, delivered and marketed 'stove-piped' telco services. The world of broadband is too narrow to address these issues, but the top-down view from the service providers will drive activity in broadband access and home networking, carrier Ethernet, wireless, everywhere," Mersh said.
Mersh told UBB2020 that the initiative has its roots in a meeting held by the BBF in March 2016, when service providers held discussions on the transformation of broadband networks -- with a particular focus on central offices and premises network equipment -- as they move towards virtual platforms using network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN).
"The question the operators identified at the meeting was that the network transformation was important, but meaningless without a business transformation," he said. "Given the most common 'platform' that is sold between operators is broadband access, the discussion quickly led to the issue of identifying a venue (a 'connectivity and virtualization operator group') for the discussions."
The other key area discussed, added Mersh, was what would be the first and primary industry network transformations that would be traded over such a business framework: a top-down customer view of an NFV-based broadband access platform that will be bought and sold internationally.
Mersh said service providers asked the BBF board to open the connectivity and virtualization group to all providers without membership requirements, to facilitate a truly universal trading group.
"This is not only new for the BBF; it is generally new for all SDOs [standards developing organizations]," he said. "The BBF board approved this request, and now the project is open to all providers that buy and sell connectivity and virtualization, which includes non-traditional operators as well."
— Anne Morris, Associate Editor, UBB2020