AT&T moving from testing to deploying OpenROADMs

Having achieved optical interoperability between equipment made by different vendors, AT&T is moving forward with plans to scale Open Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer (ROADM) deployments using multiple vendors and an optical SDN controller integrated into ECOMP.

ROADMs are switches responsible for managing and routing traffic carried across high-capacity fiber optic lines. Software-controlled ROADMs enable users to manage and route traffic using a centralized controller. They are able to detect and modify bandwidth automatically, while moving traffic to different lanes when needed. Although AT&T uses ROADMs and SDN controller in its own management systems, the company said it is beginning to use ROADMs for production customer traffic.

“We’re now moving toward scaling OpenROADM deployments using multiple vendors and an optical SDN controller that’s integrated into ECOMP,” wrote Chris Rice and Kathy Tse in a company blog post. Rice is the senior vice president at AT&T Labs, while Tse is the director of the photonic platform development group at AT&T Labs. “ECOMP is the operating system for our software-defined network. We’re starting with our OpenROADM deployment in Dallas. Soon, we’ll be deploying OpenROADM technology as the standard design for all metro ROADMs – and eventually allROADMs.”

The company added that a multi-layer SDN controller is an improvement on the distributed protocol in that it provides a global view of traffic, allowing users to view what network resources are available. AT&T said it is enhancing the SDN controller so it can fully reconfigure the optical layer to enhance network capacity as required using intelligent algorithms.

There efforts are part of a wider initiative by the OpenROADM Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) group, which AT&T helped launch as a founding member in 2016. The purpose of the group is to help build and publish open standards for ROADMs. The group consists of 15 members, including Ciena, Juniper, Fujitsu, SK Telecom, Orange S.A., Cisco and others. The team is currently working on third generation features, including higher rate wavelengths.

ATT’s OMA isn’t the only open optical networking project on the block, however. For example, the work of the Optical Interworking Forum (OIF), which helps facilitate the development and deployment of interoperable networking solutions, applies to optical and electrical interconnects, optical components and network processing technologies. The Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) also founded the Open Optical Packet Transport (OOPT) group as part of an effort to provide better connectivity for communities.

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