InterComms :: International Communications Project
  Intercomms Issue 23

Broadband Forum logoWhat’s Next for Broadband?

InterComms talks with Robin Mersh, CEO, Broadband Forum

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Q: Does the Broadband Forum have strategic programmes to use as a future path; could you explain what they are and why you are looking at this strategy?
A: Network access has evolved over the past twenty years from just a simple internet offering to today’s explosion of services and applications, varying speed and performance requirements, and a variety of core and local access methods. With such a vast array of broadband technologies in existence it is increasingly important to develop methods to ensure harmonious operations. The motivations for the introduction of multi-service architectures derive from the need to allow all of these different access technologies the capability to operate over a common simplified network architecture.

The Broadband Forum, the global consortium dedicated to the development of broadband network, architecture, management and testing specifications, has been driving the evolution of Broadband Network Architecture for over a decade. It has identified the increased need for bandwidth together with Quality of Service (QoS) based on service policies. From this it has created reference architectures for multi-service broadband networks. The Forum’s work defines high level network requirements, and specifies functional modules to meet those network requirements.

Each year, the Forum sets strategic direction once a year, with regular reviews held throughout the year. The Forum is primarily motivated by the requirements of the operators, but the interests of the vendors also play a crucial role when undergoing activity in areas such as FTTdp,, M2M, NFV, and SDN amongst others.

Q: With the Telcos, or CSPs as they like to be called, transforming their business into digital offerings how do you envisage this change and where are the most likely problems?
A: Much of the foundation work has already been done, or is currently underway. The Forum has developed a number of Technical Reports (TRs) that are designed to support the delivery of superfast broadband and enabling the Internet of Things. This work addresses the need for network interconnection standards for broadband access, Quality of Service (QoS) support and bandwidth on demand, increased overall bandwidth and higher network reliability and availability.

Recent specifications published by the Forum include:

  • TR-178 Multi-service broadband network architecture and nodal requirements
  • TR-224 Technical specifications for MPLS in carrier Ethernet networks
  • TR-293 Energy efficient mobile backhaul
  • TR-300 Policy convergence for next generation fixed and 3GPP wireless networks

A list of all work in progress is available on the website. The list of work is quite long, but I would suggest that we should not underestimate the task of converging cloud services with traditional networks. The industry is making great progress, but data centers are a very different proposition from a Wide Area Network.

Q: Big data and data centers are an ongoing topic, using vast amounts of data for trend analysis and to provide correct services to the end user, are CSPs swapping the data for personal customer service and what are the effects of big data on current networks?
A: Data is critical to service delivery and creating a trouble-free environment. Many consumers just want to consume, cheaply, easily and with little interference. Much of the Broadband Forum’s activities in management of devices have been designed to do just this, including the Forum’s TR-069 protocol that has revolutionized broadband device management for telecommunications operators worldwide. Now in its tenth year, TR-069 manages a projected 300 million devices worldwide, and has established itself as the premier network management protocol for both home and business broadband deployments.

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