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Accelerating broadband connectivity with automation

Accelerating broadband connectivity with automation

Broadband World Forum 2020 has just closed. While this year’s virtual event was a brand-new experience, it still had that familiar buzz of excitement with launches, breakthroughs, and innovations. As usual, Nokia was leading the way with several major announcements for 25G PON, Wi-Fi, and software-defined access.

At the show I talked about how the industry needs to evolve to autonomous networks, and how software-defined networking with service-centric automation is a key step to reach this goal. An autonomous network will be able to self-configure, automatically find misconfigurations and fix them via audit facilities and coordinated control loops. This means it can automate repetitive and dynamic processes that are a drain on a service provider’s resources.

I’m proud of our innovations and the way we consistently strive to bring new technologies to market faster. But I’m even more proud seeing those technologies in action, serving our customers and ultimately the consumers, bringing better broadband to more people, more quickly.  

One such example is the application of software-defined access to quickly and efficiently deploy gigabit broadband to multiple dwelling units (MDUs). MDUs such as apartment complexes and multi-flat houses are some of the hardest places to upgrade broadband connectivity, yet they are so prevalent in many countries of the world—roughly half the world’s households are in MDUs.

Recently, we announced Gigabit broadband projects with NetCologne in Germany and a Tier 1 operator in the United States. These are landmark deployments in the way they combine software-defined automation and 212 MHz fiber extension technology, and it’s a solution that is easy to replicate in every region of the world. overcomes the headache-inducing task of trying to deploy fiber inside the MDU to every home. Software-defined access overcomes the cost and complexity of a MDU deployment as it enables full flexibility, zero-touch provisioning, better service assurance, and unified management of the resulting hybrid and traditional-virtual network.

And this is key: we enable operators to smoothly transition their operations to the cloud, incrementally adding value while preserving control over existing network services. At the heart of our solution, is the vendor-agnostic Altiplano platform. It helps any broadband operator map out how to obtain a complete and rich set of automation capabilities through open - even customizable - APIs. The capability to automate all SDN native, disaggregated and traditional access networks, avoids big up-front capital expenses or forklifting of entire systems, while benefitting from advanced functionality.

Our innovation in platform automation continues apace but we’ve come to recognize that this is a unique moment in time where need and technology coincides, igniting a once-in-a-generation network transformation for broadband builders globally. With ever more communication services and broadband technologies, automation is needed to deal with the increased number of options, parameters and dimensions to optimize. This is an area where artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is complementing, and even surpassing, existing algorithmic power and will help to make important decisions for operators at an accelerating rate.

I was delighted to hear Vodafone at BBWF 2020 share our view on the need for more automation in the broadband network. They also highlighted the importance of control loops and zero-touch provisioning; and shared the criteria they look for when selecting a partner to help them automate their network.

I believe we’re at the turning point for broadband networks. 2020 has served as a reminder of the critical need to accelerate broadband connectivity for all. 2021 will be the year SDN automation becomes a key enabler of this enhanced connectivity. The faster we leverage the cloud to ameliorate our access networks, the faster we can connect the unconnected with life-enhancing broadband.  

There’s never been a better time to leverage cloud to fire up your broadband network deployment.

Learn more about how Nokia can help you to take your next step into the cloud era.

Geert Heyninck

About Geert Heyninck

Geert leads the Broadband Business Unit at Nokia, cooking up innovations across all our copper and fiber broadband solutions. He has a nose for this kind of thing, thanks to more than 25 years’ experience in telecoms. Coincidentally, 25 years is the kind of age he likes his Burgundy: food and wine are two more of his passions.

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