AT&T finishes Gbps XGS-PON field trials

AT&T announced Tuesday it finished open-source 10 Gbps XGS-PON field trials as part of a wider initiative to virtualize access functions over the last mile network.

The operator originally announced it would conduct 10 Gbps XGS-PON field trials last June. The purpose of the field trials, according to AT&T, was to create a foundation to support “all services on a single network, including 5G wireless infrastructure.”

The recent field trials were conducted in Atlanta and Dallas using Open Source Access Manager Hardware Abstraction (OSAM-HA) software, previously known as VOLTHA, which AT&T first released in October 2017. Developed in collaboration with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and vendor community, AT&T describes VOLTHA as the “brain” of the XGS-PON access network in the cloud.

During the field trials, a fixed wavelength symmetrical 10 Gbps passive platform called XGS-PON tested multi-gigabit high-speed internet traffic, in addition to providing seamless AT&T DIRECTV NOW video experience to trial participants, according to the company.

XGS-PON can reportedly coexist with current generation GPON technology and provide four times greater downstream bandwidth. In a company blog post, Assistant Vice President for Access Architecture and Design at AT&T Eddy Barker noted the XGS-PON could help networks manage the bandwidth needed for budding applications within the realms of virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

“Our network is constantly evolving. We’ll continue to execute our software-based network strategy to technologies like 5G, virtualized RAN, and G.FAST over time,” said Barker in a statement. “Ultimately, instead of deploying islands of technology that have SDN control, we want to orchestrate the entire end-to-end network through ONAP.”

ONAP is shorthand for Open Network Automation Platform, which oversees the lifecycle of virtual network functions (VNFs). A combination of AT&T’s Open ECOMP and the Linux Foundation’s Open-O, the project involves an open source community of service providers and vendors.

“Open software efforts benefit the industry because we rely on the active participation and feedback from a large community of developers,” Barker wrote in a company blog post last year. “Developers can improve, add, and influence changes to the software that will help us deliver XGS-PON technology to customers quickly.”

Barker added software releases like VOLTHA could help the company fulfill its virtualization goals. AT&T has pledged to virtualize and control 75% of its network using software-defined architecture by 2020.

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