The Critical Lowdown Podcast Episode 8
Recorded at the Internet Service Providers UK Business Model Summit
Mark Downey, EPS Global in conversation with Bhartendu Chaurasia, Meta/Facebook & TIP
As 5G networks and 5G-enabled technologies become more prevalent, experts expect the sustainability opportunity of 5G to be high on the agenda for service providers this year and next. How can we drive sustainable network innovation to keep pace with the exponential growth in network traffic, and can open telecom technology bring more people better internet access across all 4 corners of the globe?
We asked this very question at the Internet Service Providers Business Model Summit in London this month, where our Head of Sales for Northern Europe & Africa, Mark Downey, sat down with Bhartendu Chaurasia, the Head of Telecom Infra Project Technologies for EMEA at META/Facebook.
The Telecom Infra Project was formed in 2016 as an engineering-focused, collaborative methodology to accelerate the development and deployment of global telecom network infrastructure. This innovative, shared approach addresses challenges such as scalability, fast convergence, and ease of configuration to deliver high-quality connectivity, even to remote areas. By simplifying the network architecture, they can improve flexibility and efficiency which reduces the most significant costs of keeping a network up and running, which are ongoing operations and maintenance.
EPS Global has been working with TIP for the past few years, both directly with Service Providers opting for TIP-based solutions and also as TIP’s fulfilment partner, getting open hardware and software into the hands of their end customers.
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Transcript of Episode 8: Driving Sustainable Network Innovation with Open Telecom Technology
Mark Downey: The topic of today's talk is driving sustainable network innovation with Open Telecom technology. So before that, I just wanted to explain where EPS Global fits into that picture, and then I will ask Bhartendu some questions.
We've been ISPA’s Open Disaggregated partner now for 2 years, and we were set up in 1999. We have 28 global locations around the world covering Asia, Europe/EMEA and the Americas. We specialize in solutions that are based on open standards, bare metal hardware, and open software. We work with ISPs all around the world, some of which are in the UK, promoting these open standards and helping them deliver on their networks. Open is great, but in reality you want someone to pull it all together for you. We get involved in initializing and provisioning switches and setting them up and getting them out to our customers.
We've also been working with the Telecom Infra Project, which is what Bhartendu is part of, both directly with customers deploying those solutions out there; and also helping as a fulfilment partner to get the solutions to their customers. We’re delighted to time with Bhartendu today who’s a wealth of knowledge, hopefully interesting for you guys.
Bhartendu, we've got a room full of people here today, ISPs and Service Providers who probably have a varying degree of knowledge about TIP and what you do. Could you give them a bit of an overview of what you do?
Mark Downey: Good answer, very interesting. It'd be good to look at some of the projects within TIP. Just before that, I just want to give a quick quote from one of your colleagues, which kind of puts our talk into context a little bit. Johan Hjortas, he's the head of Transport, Network Architecture and Strategy at the Telia company and he's also co-chair of the TIP OOPT project group. He said:
“We're fully committed to the development of a healthy transport ecosystem that can speed up innovation and foster a healthier supply chain. The OOPT community is composed of a greater service and technology providers and I'm looking forward to continuing to work with them to enable transport networks of the future”.
There’s a couple of things within that, I think a healthier supply chain, everyone in the room would agree that improvements in supply chains at the moment will be most welcome! But around that idea of innovation and can we talk a little bit about the backhaul project. I think there's a few different technologies that overlap within that, but maybe we could look into Open Optical Packet Transport, the OOPT. Could you talk a little bit about that and how it's progressing?
Mark Downey: Within the technology map you showed earlier there's lots of use cases. What will be interesting is how has it transferred into adoption among some of the bigger Telcos globally?
Question for audience: Anything in the UK?
Mark Downey: Moving a little bit away from the technology roadmap, we should dig into some of the real world adoptions and deployments. I guess it'd be good for me to give my perspective on this as a partner working with TIP and ISPs day-to-day. Some examples are Newroz/Gateway in Iraq, at the moment and we've deployed a proof of concept with Cell Site Gateways, that has moved into a pilot project which they're setting up for 5G. We're also starting to work with them on a coherent backbone network using the Cassini box that you mentioned earlier, these are live deployments that we have out there in the field at the moment.
We also have a pretty good story to tell in in Africa, there's lots of greenfield deployments out there where they're looking for innovative, economical ways of getting their networks deployed. There's a need to bring connectivity to rural communities on a scale that we probably don't comprehend relative to the distances we cover in Europe and how they do that. We've worked with Virtual Technologies & Solutions in Burkina Faso, and we’re also working with Afribone in Mali.
I know TIP has had successful projects, I think you mentioned some of them on the map with MTN for example, who are the 7th largest telco in the world I believe, and Africell and Comsol in that region.
EPS Global has been a component of these real-world deployments, both in dealing with TIP or the customer directly, but also as TIP’s fulfillment partner in getting proof of concepts set up in far flung parts of the world.
We've been working in the UK for many years, Vodafone and BT are existing customers, but now we're starting to work more and more with AltNets selling open network solutions into the likes of Netomnia, and then YouFibre. Maybe you can give us a few detailed examples of who you're working with, and what you're doing with them.
Question from Audience: Where does Terragraph sit in this ecosystem?
Glossary of Terms:
- OpenRAN: TIP’s OpenRAN program supports the development of disaggregated and interoperable 2G/3G/4G/5G NR Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions based on service provider requirements.
- TIP: The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a global community of companies and organizations working together to accelerate the development and deployment of open, disaggregated, and standards-based technology solutions that deliver the high quality connectivity that the world needs – now and in the decades to come.
- OCP: The Open Compute Project Foundation (OCP) was initiated in 2011 with a mission to apply the benefits of open source and open collaboration to hardware and rapidly increase the pace of innovation in, near and around the data center.
- OOPT: The Open Optical & Packet Transport group is a project group within Telecom Infra Project that works on the definition of open technologies, architectures and interfaces in Optical and IP Networking.
- ONF: The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-driven, community-led non-profit consortium fostering and democratizing innovation in software-defined programmable networks.
- Open Alliance: The OPEN Alliance (One-Pair Ether-Net) Inc. is a non-profit, open industry alliance of mainly automotive industry and technology providers collaborating to encourage wide scale adoption of Ethernet-based networks as the standard in automotive networking applications.
- DCSG: Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway
- Microwave: Wireless broadband technology
- Optical Transport: An optical transport network (OTN) is a digital wrapper that encapsulates frames of data, to allow multiple data sources to be sent on the same channel. This creates an optical virtual private network for each client signal. 
- Mobile Core: A mobile core network is a central part of the overall mobile network that allows subscribers to get access to the services that they are entitled to use. 
- MNOs: Mobile Network Operators
- RFI: Request for Information
- SDN: Software Defined Networking
- AltNets: Alternative Network Providers