Launched with NTT last year, we're told that the PON Abstraction Interface for Time Critical Applications project (PDF link) "looks at how software-defined networking and network functions virtualisation can be applied to Optical Line Terminals to eliminate the need for operators to rebuild an OLT from the preliminary stage of development, for example, a remake of the PON chip, which requires a large amount of investment".
The Broadband Forum organisation says that "time-to-market for new offerings, including support for 5G fronthaul interfaces and services for business users, is also accelerated".
The quick progress the project has made "was showcased for the first time on the last day of the Broadband Forum’s Q2 meeting, where NTT demonstrated two scenarios — mobile and FTTH — where a future OLT could be optimised with Dynamic Bandwidth Allocation (DBA) software to significantly reduce latency to meet the stringent latency requirements of 5G fronthaul interfaces".
Akihiro Otaka, executive manager at NTT Access Network Service Systems Laboratories at NTT, said: “Time Critical Applications are essential to meet changing user behaviour.
“The demonstration we have carried out at the Broadband Forum meeting is a significant step for the project as it shows how operators can cost-effectively upgrade OLTs via a software upgrade.
"Standardisation in this area is essential as it will achieve a vendor-agnostic system and ensure mass deployment which is key to realising agile and flexible next-generation broadband networks and the delivery of 5G.”
Following the successful demonstration, the Forum and NTT said they will "now look at whether a cooperative interface, which controls the TCAs shown in the demonstration, can be established between the Central Unit in mobile networks and an OLT. This will involve coordination with standards defining organisations such as 3GPP and CPRI and IEEE".
The meeting, which took place in Osaka, Japan, last week "also saw the Forum elect a new Technical Committee chair. Lincoln Lavoie, of UNH-IOL, will take on the position and aims to further advance next-generation work within the Forum, including projects around 5G, CloudCO and User Services Platform".
A joint workshop between the Forum, FSAN and ITU-T was held immediately after the Q2 meeting on 15 June.
This saw "discussion around future expectations, NG-PON deployment plans, ONU certification vOLT standardisation, PON convergence and the Broadband Access Abstraction project".
Broadband Forum chief executive Robin Mersh said: "Consumer demand, in regard to both quality of service and types of applications being used, is advancing at a rapid pace – the speed of which is being matched by how quickly new technologies and concepts are being developed.
“As we hurtle towards this new era of broadband connectivity, the work we are doing within the Forum remains key, but as fixed and mobile networks converge, it is more important than ever that this work is not done in silos.
"Industry-wide collaboration will ensure the interoperability we are enabling does not end at a certain point in the network but encompasses the whole architecture to create an open broadband infrastructure.”
More information about the PON Abstraction Interface for TCAs project is here.