- Telecom Infra Project (TIP) forms Solution Groups
- Aim is to create blueprints for open network deployments
- Telcos heavily involved in shaping the blueprints
- Mobile data offload among the first focus areas
Having already disrupted the telecoms markets with open networking initiatives in a way that many operators, if not all vendors, deem useful, the Facebook-based Telecom Infra project (TIP) is going a step further with the launch of so-called Solution Groups that will aim to develop network deployment ‘blueprints’ that can be used to reduce deployment times and integration efforts.
TIP’s efforts up to now have been on developing designs for open, disaggregated network products or specific network layers (such as access networks) that bring together vendor-neutral hardware platforms and third party software to create more cost-efficient and open network designs: It hasn’t been focused on developing standards, but has teamed up with other groups that have developed specifications and then used those in TIP designs. An example is TIP’s OpenRAN project group, which teamed up with the O-RAN Alliance. (See TIP, O-RAN Alliance team up, head for the open goal.)
Now TIP is focusing on the bigger picture, to offer up not only product and network layer designs but to now extend into broader network deployment blueprints, incorporating elements and functions (from outside as well as inside the existing TIP community) as well as integration and interoperability testing processes to create “end-to-end solutions for specific deployment cases that can be used by operators and other connectivity stakeholders.”
This, by its nature, will be limiting – it would be impossible to provide a plan for any network deployment ‘out of the box’ – but it could cover lots of bases and help guide companies that don’t have large planning teams or pre-build budgets and, in particular, help companies that may have never built a communications network before: The number of those is growing as regulators auction spectrum licenses that are affordable to, and in some cases set aside for, non-traditional comms network builders, such as enterprises from other industry verticals. The outcome of the recent so-called CBRS spectrum auction in the US showed there is an appetite for private network rollouts, especially now that network technology can be sourced and constructed in alternative ways (using standard hardware and open interface software).
TIP is starting with four Solution Groups and the supporting names include some of the more bullish telcos in the open networking community:
- Network as a Service (NaaS) including Everis, Facebook, IpT, MTN, Orange, Telefonica, Vodacom
- Mobile Data Offload including ThinkSmarter, Dublin City Council, Sligo County Council, Facebook, DenseAir, Shoelace Wireless
- Connected City Infrastructure including Dublin City Council (Smart Docklands), Connect Research, DenseAir, Facebook, Schreder and local mobile operators.
- Open Automation including MTN, Vodafone, Telecom Argentina, Entel, Facebook, Atrinet, GigaMonster, Frinx
This is an interesting development from TIP and the mix of participants looks set to deliver some useful outcomes. To get a lot more detail on these groups, check out this TIP announcement.
However, as there always is with TIP initiatives, there will also be some caution in the market: While open networking by its nature is supposed to encourage freedom and agility, the TIP team will need to ensure that the output and deployment of the new groups’ designs don’t put network operators in an stranglehold or end up limiting their choices of hardware or software options.
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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