Ensuring interoperability

With so many vendors vying for their piece of the mobile Ethernet backhaul pie, IEEE 1588 PTP interoperability among all of the multi-vendor equipment in a mobile network infrastructure becomes paramount. Not only is a single network operator likely to have devices from different makers within its network, any one 4G service provider is more likely than not to be sending traffic across infrastructure that it does not own.

The Ethernet Alliance ... has issued a "call for interest" (CFI) for an IEEE 1588 PTP interoperability test event

The Ethernet Alliance--a global consortium comprised of system and component vendors, end users, industry experts and university and government professionals who are committed to the continued success and expansion of Ethernet technology--has issued a "call for interest" (CFI) for an IEEE 1588 PTP interoperability test event (http://www.ethernetalliance.org/interoperability/interoperability_tests). Platforms must be tested to identify and address IEEE 1588 PTP interoperability issues in three critical areas:

  • Transparent clocks, which calculate and document packet delay in a synchronization signal;
  • Boundary clocks, which assess synchronization signals and retime slave clocks across a network, and;
  • High-bandwidth performance, as clock signals inevitably degrade as more and more traffic is loaded on the network.

Testing IEEE 1588 PTP across a broad vendor community will help accelerate the rollout of interoperable, market-ready products as carriers continue their backhaul build-out to accommodate the 4G mobile world.

The migration away from proven TDM has been difficult.  Replicating its tried-and-true timing and phase synchronization functionality has been one of the great challenges in the move to pure Ethernet mobile backhaul based upon Carrier Ethernet. Adoption of IEEE 1588 PTP is playing an integral role in bringing about the transformation, as well as positioning carriers for the unprecedented business opportunity of 4G mobile service rollout. Ensuring synchronization interoperability across multi-vendor platforms is the next key step in helping carriers capitalize as mobile devices continue to become a greater part of daily life.

Jim Theodoras is President of the Board of Directors, Ethernet Alliance, and a columnist for FierceTelecom.

Ensuring interoperability