ECI demonstrates 5G capabilities in multi-vendor interoperability tests

June 4, 2020 Westford, MA – Ribbon Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: RBBN), a global provider of real time communications software and network solutions to service providers, enterprises, and critical infrastructure sectors, today announced that ECI, which recently merged with Ribbon, has successfully participated in a range of 5G tests at the interoperability showcase organized by the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC). This is the sixth time ECI has successfully participated in this showcase.

Interoperability of advanced transport features across multiple vendors is fundamental to today’s networking, and becomes even more important in 5G networks. Among other goals, this year’s tests were designed to assess the maturity of transport network solutions to support 5G networks. The Neptune 1800 platform successfully participated in the 5G-related hard slicing and timing/synchronization tests.

“As operators look to new 5G revenue streams it is becoming increasingly evident that the networks need more than just a boost in capacity,” said Jimmy Mizrahi, EVP, Packet Optical Product Strategy at Ribbon. “Network operators also need a toolkit of network slicing capabilities to support the wide variety of services inherent to 5G, including those with strict service level agreements (SLAs). Moreover, advanced synchronization is required to support massive MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) and location-based applications. This means (interfaces for Metro Transport Networks) and class C timing, the high-accuracy clocks used in fronthaul networks, become essential in allowing operators to support these new 5G services and must be proven to be interoperable across vendors and networks.”

5G networks require some form of network slicing. Hard slicing is particularly relevant for services with strict SLAs such as those requiring guaranteed low latency, deterministic packet delay variation or isolation from other services in the network. FlexEthernet (FlexE), as defined in the emerging ITU-T standard, is one technology that provides this hard-slicing network isolation. At the EANTC interoperability showcase, ECI successfully participated in FlexE channeling and isolation, as well as FlexE bandwidth adjustment tests. 

5G networks also require much tighter network synchronization to meet the ITU-T’s class C standards. This increased accuracy is required for both the operation of the 5G RAN and for a number of location-based services. To increase the security of the synchronization, ECI has developed and implemented a secure 5G timing process, where the timing packets are secured within MACsec (Media Access Control security) frames in ECI’s proprietary format. ECI successfully participated in clock synchronization tests that demonstrated the accuracy and interoperability of its secure 5G timing approach across multi-vendor networks at the EANTC showcase.

“5G networks will require an open, fully integrated packet and optical transport network that can be segmented according to the operator’s requirements,” Mr. Mizrahi added. “Hard slicing and class C synchronization require hardware upgrades that are already implemented in our Neptune packet transport solutions. Our hard slicing and timing capabilities will provide operators with the tools they need to address new markets and new services with their 5G network. Interoperability testing is, of course, a central component of our product development and our successful participation in the EANTC showcase is further evidence of the strength of our approach and solutions.” 

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