Verizon today announced the latest step in its move toward a single fiber-based access network, with the industry's first large-scale NG-PON2 deployment.
The implementation, somewhere as-yet unannounced in Tampa, will use Calix solutions to advance Verizon's transformation toward software-defined access and PON. Verizon is working with both Calix and ADTRAN on its NG-PON2 initiative, often releasing news about the vendors at different times.
In this instance, Verizon sees the large-scale NG-PON2 deployment as comparable to the provider's early FiOS installation days, recalled Vincent O'Byrne, director of technology planning at Verizon, in an interview with Broadband World News. O'Byrne told BBWN in September that NG-PON2 would "leave the lab" in early 2018. (See Verizon Exec: NG-PON2 Leaves Lab in Early 2018.)
"You would have to be within Verizon to see the amount of positivity that is there that is similar to when we did start to launch FiOS," O'Byrne recalled. "We have a lot of big initiatives. We do see ourselves on a positive cusp or tide of deploying new technologies and making a lot of changes to the network."
Living on the intelligent edge
Whereas FiOS once transformed BPON, the NG-PON2 deployment will transform software-defined access and PON, and bring Verizon much closer to a single fiber-based access network and multiple benefits, such as lower operational costs, faster rollout of new services and enhanced customer experience. It will deliver speeds of up to 40 Gbit/s throughput and tunable optics for about the same cost as GPON due to the multiple return on investment benefits, said O'Byrne. (See Unleashing the Power of the Single Access Network: Ovum.)
Although O'Byrne declined to give specifics on Verizon's anticipated savings, Calix estimates when CSPs put together a new architecture that converges services onto a common optical distribution network, using a true software-defined architecture that is ready for network functions virtualization, providers can reduce capex by up to 75% and opex by up to 80%, according to "Forever Changing the Access Network" paper.
For the Tampa implementation, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) equipment such as the
AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System (designed to enable software-defined access and unification of residential, business and mobile backhaul services onto one network), as well as
AXOS RPm (Routing Protocol module for Layer 3) and
AXOS SMm (Subscriber Management module for disaggregated Broadband Network Gateway).
The biggest, most transformational change -- one expected to impact everything from operations to customer experience to support and dramatically reduce cost while accelerating speed of deployment for new services, among other things -- is the "Intelligent Network Edge" strategy. Previously nicknamed "one network," the approach ends Verizon's need for separate networks for residential, enterprise and mobile backhaul for 5G.
"It is a fully converged physical layer in NG-PON 2 that allows you do to every service over the same physical infrastructure," said Carl Russo, president and CEO of Calix, in an interview with BBWN, of AXOS. "[When] married with an always-on operating system, it's purpose-built for this kind of demanding application."
Added O'Bryne: "We have our OSS systems put together with all of these new pieces of equipment. For lack of a better term, it would be an overlay. It's not just NG-PON2. It is the whole network. The whole idea of that network is to try to simplify the amount of designs we have in the architecture."
This deployment marks the fruition of Calix's decade-long vision of a unified access network and its transition to a software and services business, Russo said.
"This helps people understand just how much that transformation has been completed," he says. "AXOS being deployed at this level should make it clear what is going on with us, as a platform software company. So for us, this is a milestone for Calix, a milestone for Verizon but we believe strongly it is a milestone for the industry because now, every service provider, can build a fully converged unified access infrastructure. Not only does it change their network, it changes their business model."
By converging all services onto one network, providers eliminate duplicate operational processes and leverage more automation, noted O'Byrne.
"The ability to move all three service sets into one box saves us an inordinate amount of money from processing and just the ability to increase the speed at which we can provision systems reduces our OSS complexities that we would have," O'Byrne said. "That is why this overall intelligent edge network, we kind of see it as a big emphasis within the company."
Those savings come even though NG-PON2 technology costs more than GPON due, in part, to its relative newness on the market. Verizon has been very public in its advocacy for NG-PON2 and its work with both ADTRAN and Calix on interoperability, in part to help drive down costs and encourage other operators to consider the tech, O'Bryne told BBWN.
Verizon continues to team up with ADTRAN; it's "standard practice" to partner with two vendors, advancing first with one and then another, he said. Both vendors' equipment will have common interfaces based on the Verizon OMCI spec, which is now being incorporated into the ITU-T G.988 standard. (See Verizon Advances NG-PON2 With OpenOMCI Spec.)
Both Calix and ADTRAN are actively involved in standards groups such as Broadband Forum's PON initiatives, for example. And O'Byrne is a frequent speaker at Broadband Forum's Broadband Access Summit Events (BASE).
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.