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Fixed Mobile Convergence: Where and Why?

By Tim Doiron, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research

I spent part of the weekend completing my presentation for our OFC 2017 panel:  The Network Operator Summit, Panel II:  Optical Mobile Access, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 1:30-3:00pm. 

As I worked on my slides, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the history of Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC). The idea and the desire for a fixed-mobile converged network is one that has been around a long time – even before 2004 when the Fixed Mobile Converged Alliance (FMCA) was formed.  While each vendor and organization may have their own variation on FMC, the idea at least in part has been to utilize shared infrastructure across a range of mobile, enterprise and residential services to achieve networking efficiencies.

As we fast forward to today, I believe our thinking on FMC has evolved and matured. In the past, the data plane received a lot of attention. While that’s ok, I would argue that it is a limiting and restrictive view. Every time there is significant bandwidth demand in an area of the network, there is innovation in the data plane. We see that in the access network where we have many competing technologies including VDSL2, G.Fast, DOCSIS 3.1, NG-PON2 and XGS-PON. We also see it other areas like data center interconnect where PAM4 technology has been introduced alongside 100G Coherent DWDM technology for distances below 80km. With the advent of 5G wireless, there are initiatives to move from tailored mobile fronthaul and mobile backhaul solutions to a unified mobile anyhaul approach. The point I am trying to make is that attempting to unify the data plane for FMC is a challenge at best and impossible at worse as there will continue to be data plane innovations every time there is significant growth in an area of the network.

So, if unifying the data plane isn’t the answer, where should we focus our attention to maximize the benefits of an FMC network? The answer is visible in a number of recent research analyses we have performed in collaboration with our customers. By focusing our attention on abstraction, visibility, control and automation across networking layers and domains, we can finally begin to realize the FMC networking efficiencies we seek while also enabling the data plane to continue to innovate. I look forward to sharing some of our research results and seeing you at our OFC panel on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.  Safe travels.

Posted: 15 March 2017 by Tim Doiron, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networking, ACG Research | with 0 comments

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