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Orange cloud announces a new dawn for broadband

Sunrise over fields

Today’s broadband infrastructure finds itself in a disruptive and innovative time, where past paradigms no longer hold true. While COVID-19 might prove to be the final incentive that operators need to implement greater network responsiveness, the urgency has been growing for several years. Communication services used to have a lifecycle of 10+ years and their definition remained fairly unchanged over that period. Now, modern social networks and cloud-based applications are changing the market needs on the fly: quick adjustments to service offerings are needed in seconds, rather than several minutes or hours.

This has motivated a lot of operators to rethink their current network and operations. Orange Group recently selected Nokia for their Access Renewal and Evolution Strategy (ARES) program which focuses on the introduction of software-defined access networking (SDAN) in their fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks. It’s an exciting opportunity to work directly with Orange to really fine-tune where and how cloud networking principles will feature in their broadband networks.

As part of the collaboration on the renewal strategy, Orange has been trialing Nokia’s SDN programmable Lightspan FX fiber nodes and the Altiplano Access Controller cloud platform in the R&D centers of Orange Lab Networks. To begin with, Orange wanted to get familiar with how basic installation and commissioning works in a software-defined environment, but we quickly moved on to more advanced use cases.

According to Christian Gacon, VP Wireline Networks at Orange Group, two of the most interesting applications for SDAN are automation and slicing. In the long-term, Orange is looking for consistency between its fixed and mobile operations in order to deliver end-to-end services, and these two applications are key to achieving that goal.

In this short video, Mr. Gacon calls out cloud gaming as an interesting opportunity. During COVID lockdowns, cloud gaming usage has grown dramatically. It’s an app where super-low latency is absolutely critical, but gamers are willing to pay for it. SDAN-enabled network slicing would allow an operator to create a dedicated network (slice) for gamers, optimized for their latency and bandwidth requirements.

A compelling feature of Nokia’s SDAN solution is its openness. We’ve been able to show Orange how our solution can interface easily with their OSS thanks to the high level of abstraction that is available on its North Bound Interface. We provide a rich set of intents already today and those can be customized by Orange to their needs. Intents allow the OSS to control the network using simple but powerful high-level goals, removing the need to “micro-manage” every setting. The primary focus always remains getting a simple, efficient tool for operating the networks properly, and customizing the user interface of the controller to make it easy to use for both field technicians and Network Operations Centers.

Our collaboration will help Orange set the engineering rules for future GPON and XGS-PON networks and validate how to introduce SDN when they upgrade their existing fiber access networks. Orange is acutely aware of the need for evolution towards an automated network rather than revolution. They’re looking to minimize disruption, so demonstrating our ability to manage both their legacy and their SDN elements is a key part of our work together.

We’re privileged to be a long-standing partner of Orange. In fact, Orange is one of Nokia’s more than 250 cloud-ready broadband deployments with our industry leading FX platform, a unique access network solution with greater choice, flexibility and control to deploy SDN. Are you ready to join them?

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #broadband #SDN #FTTH #cloud

Stefaan Vanhastel

About Stefaan Vanhastel

Stefaan Vanhastel heads the CTO function for Nokia Fixed Network and continues to lead global marketing for fixed access products and solutions. With a PhD in Electrical Engineering and over 20 years of experience in the IT/telecommunications industry, he keeps it simple: “I’m a technology marketeer by day, a wildlife/nature photographer at heart, and cat caregiver at home”. Connect with Stefaan on LinkedIn.

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