The Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica will deploy disaggregated gateways to support 5G connectivity developed to specs by the Telecom Infra Project. TIP is an organization Facebook launched together with a group of tech vendors and carriers in hopes of duplicating in the telco infrastructure space the effects the Open Compute Project has had in the data center market.
The white-box gateway was designed to handle the massive capacity increase wireless network operators will need at the point where wireless traffic is handed off to the backhaul networks to roll out 5G. According to the vendors involved, this will be “the first large-scale commercial deployment” of the TIP disaggregated gateway technology.
Here’s how Edge-core Networks, which built the solution together with Infinera and TIP, explains the issue the solution aims to solve on its website:
"Mobile base stations typically connect to a cell site gateway using RJ45 or SFP Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. However, to accommodate the increased capacity required in modern 4G and coming 5G networks, base stations will also use 10 Gigabit Ethernet SFP+ interfaces. This makes most cell site routers currently deployed unsuitable to carry 5G base station traffic."
Similar to the approach Facebook and other OCP members took to re-thinking data center hardware, TIP’s Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway project disaggregates components of this crucial piece of cell-site networking technology so that multiple vendors can innovate on various parts of the stack without worrying about compatibility with the whole.
The solution Telefónica is planning to deploy, for example, can use either Infinera or Edgecore hardware together with Infinera’s Converged Network Operating System.
The announcement said Telefónica would deploy the solution at “large scale” but stopped short of specifying how large the deployment would be, or where it will concentrate.
The TIP DCSG project isn’t the only game in town as far as open white-box cell-site gateways are concerned. Late last year, AT&T announced a planned deployment of its own white box routers at “several thousand towers,” according to SDX central.
Also disaggregated, AT&T’s solution is powered by its own network operating system, which it has contributed to the Linux Foundation, the SDX report said.