Vodafone, Nokia tackle fiber first in fixed SDN controller trial

Vodafone is looking to simplify management of its sprawling fixed networks across the globe, tapping Nokia to conduct proof-of-concept trials of its software defined network manager and controller technology ahead of a wider deployment planned for later this year.

Filip De Greve, product marketing director at Nokia, told Fierce the trials will be conducted in two countries in Europe and unfold in a phased approach. The first phase will focus on fiber while later phases will assess implementation on other kinds of networks, including copper. Testing will be conducted using Nokia’s Altiplano platform.

According to De Greve, success will be determined based on how the system performs in a multi-vendor and multi-technology environment as well as its ability to integrate into the OSS and deliver programmability and visibility across different service models.

“They [Vodafone] look really at intent-based networking because they have different OpCos, different countries, different deployments there. They want to get rid of different element management systems and they want to use the same platform to manage all of these,” he explained. “They want to be able to program the APIs.” Altiplano, which was designed to work with cable, fiber and fixed wireless access technology, will allow it to do just that with open APIs, he added.

The move is the latest from Vodafone to embrace openness and disaggregation in its network. The operator previously teamed with Nokia and Cisco to trial disaggregated broadband network gateway technology.

But the partnership also represents further momentum for Nokia’s Altiplano platform, which was originally launched in 2017. De Greve said the software is still “in the early phases” of gaining traction in the market, with around 35 wins to date with customers across the globe. He added, though, this is expected to grow as more than 100 trials leveraging its SDN controller are currently underway.

“Towards 2022, 2023, we really expect to see really the early majority will go to these types of solutions,” De Greve concluded. “Most of the operators are looking at this.”