STL has created a product line — Accellus — in recognition of the convergence of wired and wireless technology in telecommunications networks.
Chris Rice, CEO of STL’s Access Solutions business, said his general definition for “convergence” in telecom relates to how synergistic the wired and wireless technologies are. “You could look at DSL and 2G and 3G and there was no synergy between any of these,” said Rice.
Fast forward to today, and operators are designing their networks with both wired and wireless in mind. The teams deploying 5G are considering XGS PON when thinking about wireless backhaul.
In the access space there’s an upgrade occurring from Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) with speeds of 2.5 Gbps to XGS PON with symmetric 10 gig speeds. “You could serve more people with more bandwidth and also serve small and medium businesses pretty easily,” said Rice. “Also, you can bring this to the cell site.”
Not only is this of interest in countries where 5G is being rolled out, but it’s also very useful in parts of the world where fiber density is scarce. “This PON technology that allows multiple endpoints on a single fiber really helps in fiber scarce areas,” said Rice.
STL’s XGS PON technology is also programmable, being based on software-defined networking principles. “A lot of these things used to be hard coded,” said Rice. “Ours is a software-based delivery model.”
In addition to its work with fiber optic technology, STL is also building 5G radios based on standards from the O-RAN Alliance.
It’s working with Facebook Connectivity to build two radios, and it’s building other radio varieties as well to meet worldwide demand where different operators have different frequency bands. “If you want to be a full-line supplier you have to have many different bands and both indoor and outdoor,” said Rice. “We’re looking at the ones that will have the most value.”
Accellus is not yet commercialized, but STL’s goal is to create open products in the network access space for 5G and FTTx.
Rice noted that the Broadband Forum is working on broadband network gateways (BNGs).
Recently, Dave Allan, distinguished engineer at Ericsson and leader of the Broadband Forum’s Wireless-Wireline Convergence (WWC) Work Area, told Fierce convergence is finally starting to become real with the BNGs and access gateways interoperating with the 5G core.
Rice agreed. He said, “There’s the access gateway function now going into the broadband network gateway for subscribers to be managed whether fixed line or whether wireless subscribers.”
STL is doing unique work, bringing the radio access network together with the fiber network.
Rice said STL, which is headquartered in India, is working with Indian operators on some trials. He didn’t specify which operators. Proof of concepts are also happening in Taiwan and Australia. And some European operators that intend to deploy open RAN have also expressed interest in trialing Accellus.