Thursday, 25 October 2018 00:37

Broadband Forum calls on industry to 'embrace the best of both open standards and open source'

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Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh addresses Broadband World Forum delegates Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh addresses Broadband World Forum delegates

The Broadband Forum says, “The next era of broadband relies on open source and standards joining forces – now is the time to move forward together."

The US-based Forum is "the communications industry’s leading organisation focused on accelerating broadband innovation, standards, and ecosystem development" and its Broadband World Forum 2018 has been on this week.

The organisation's chief executive, Robin Mersh, said "the unification of open source with open standards will be essential to the efficient and cost-effective delivery of emerging broadband access technologies and services."

Speaking during Broadband World Forum 2018, Mersh highlighted the agility and speed of open source as being crucial for operators looking to bring new programmability to their networks through virtualisation and cloud-based techniques.

"Standards", Mersh said, "are needed to converge the industry on common architecture and migration approaches, and on the equipment requirements needed to make new advanced services a reality.

"Thus, standards play a key role in providing the migration paths that safeguard operators’ existing asset investments and create opportunities for new service development and innovation."

Mersh continued: “The future of broadband is dependent upon embracing the reality that open source and standards are interdependent.

“While the agility and speed of open source is a vital element in developing the infrastructure needed to support 5G, the connected home, cloudification and bandwidth-hungry business services, standards create the large addressable markets and evolution plans necessary to bring current broadband networks forward.

"The Broadband Forum, with its Open Broadband initiative, is making this future requirement a reality today.”

According to Mersh, operators looking to bring these qualities to their networks want to do so without unnecessarily disrupting their current environment.

“Operators don’t want to throw away the hundreds of billions of dollars invested in infrastructure they already have,” he continued. “This means we need to map open source innovations on to existing deployments so that new functionality can be added simply and with the highest possible return on invested capital and with minimal disruption to subscribers.”

Mersh emphasised the importance of "marrying open source and standards development by highlighting a number of Broadband Forum initiatives which are being carried out with open source innovators in mind".

"Projects are either being developed co-operatively, using techniques developed by open source communities or developed with open source communities more directly."

Just last week, the Forum announced it was working with prpl Foundation to develop an open source reference implementation of the "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh" specifications which would make it easier and faster to deliver intelligent, carrier grade, whole-home and small business broadband Wi-Fi coverage.

The Broadband Forum’s Open Broadband Multi-Access Point project will ensure the software project is scalable to large service provider deployments via carrier grade manageability.

Referring to this during his presentation, entitled “The New Broadband Network – Powered by Open Standards and Open Source,” Mersh was quick to point out that marrying the two techniques must be bigger than just one project.

“The Broadband Forum has done this a number of times now and we have developed a good model,” he said. “Going forward, we have to take a holistic approach and we have to rapidly develop consensus – and, of course, that is what standardisation is all about.”

Finishing his presentation with an invitation to the packed auditorium to visit the Broadband Forum Interop Pavilion on the exhibition floor of Broadband World Forum 2018 to view a live demonstration of another of the Forum’s initiatives which leverages open source, Open Broadband – Broadband Access Abstraction, Mersh concluded his presentation with:

“The next era of broadband relies on open standards and open source joining forces to dramatically change our industry.

"With these two elements, we see the potential to reach the full promise of broadband, achieved by leveraging the strengths of both to produce progress quickly, but in a structured environment that facilitates evolution.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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