Broadband Forum publishes new standards to help make converged 5G core a reality

via Flickr © Gavin St. Ours (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Gavin St. Ours (CC BY 2.0)

  • Three important new specifications encompass the entire ecosystem - wireless and wireline
  • Covers Fixed Mobile Convergence, Access Gateway Function, and customer premises equipment 
  • Will enable telcos to build 5G networks with open, cloud-native platforms using software and hardware from different vendors
  • Intent is to ensure customers receive a common, unified broadband experience - as well as prepare telcos for the mass take-up 5G

The Broadband Forum, the non-profit industry body and open standards development organisation that focuses on broadband network specifications, has published three important new 5G specifications that, the organisation claims, will permit telcos, CSPs and DSPs to build networks with open, cloud-native platforms that will allow them to make use of software and hardware components from different manufacturers to eliminate vendor lock-in and accelerate the deployment of new 5G services more quickly, securely and flexibly.

The new specs are integral to the Broadband Forum's stated mission to champion a consolidated approach to 5G to enable a common, managed broadband experience to the end user regardless of whatever the final connectivity technology might be. The expectation is that capex and opex will be reduced along with development time.

A single converged 5G core network is vital to the provision of compelling, seamless and consistent new subscriber services whether they connect to 5G via wireless or wireline technologies. Meanwhile and simultaneously, network operators need a single view of a customer to enable commonality of approach in terms of authentication credentials and network policies.

Rosaria Persico, of Telecom Italia and a Principal Broadband Forum Delegate, commented, "For operators who can count on a large mobile and fixed customer base, the three new standards will provide a great opportunity to offer the revolutionary 5G services to households too, maximising the key benefits of different access network assets and leveraging all the service platforms which will be deployed to unlock the full potential that 5G promises."

The newly finalised specifications cover 5G Wireless/Wireline Convergence Architecture (TR-470), Access Gateway Function (AGF) Functional Requirements (TR-456) and Device Data Model (TR-181). Together they itemise and enable functions and interfaces for Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC), the AGF, and customer premises equipment (CPE) such as 5G-enabled routers.

Specification TR-470 (5G wireless/wireline convergence architecture) was written in co-operation with 3GPP. It formulates 5G fixed/mobile convergence architecture to provide a high-level guide for network architects and planners and enable fixed and mobile functions to co-exist over shared infrastructure to enable multi-access connectivity so that subscribers get seamless, access-independent service.

For operators themselves, the necessary network functions to operate their infrastructure will be streamlined and common technology, on-boarding, training, services and subscriber management between a telco's fixed and mobile divisions will be possible. Simultaneously, as fixed/mobile convergence will be extended well beyond the geographical reach of 5G core networks and as fixed network services are enhanced, new operator revenue streams will  follow and flow. 

Specification TR-456 relates to the access gateway function that sits between fixed access networks and the 5G core network to support 5G and wireline Residential Gateways and facilitates genuinely converged services deployment. Alongside it the Device Data Model (TR 181) which is applied to the User Services Platform (USP), has been extended to address 5G Residential Gateways as well. 

Robin Mersh, the CEO of the Broadband Forum says, "Operators are keen to harness and deploy fifth generation technology to exploit new opportunities to enhance existing revenue streams and secure new ones by launching new services and applications. Spanning the full scope of the network, including CPE, these specifications take a holistic approach to network management and operation and will greatly accelerate 5G deployments, ensuring operator confidence through an open ecosystem..

New specification TR-124, Functional Requirements for Broadband Residential Gateway Devices, is currently under discussion, almost complete and is expected to be finalised next month. Basically the extant provisions of TR-124 have been extended to add requirements related to the 5G Residential Gateway extending the 5G control plane to the premises to open up new service opportunities with real time fulfilment.

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