Vodafone takes Facebook's TIP for a test lap

Vodafone is kicking the tires on the TIP Voyager optical transport box on its network in Spain. (Vodafone)

Vodafone took the Facebook-designed Telecom Infra Project Voyager (TIP) optical whitebox for a test run on its network in Spain.  

Vodafone said the successful trial, which was conducted on a live network, was designed to showcase the benefits of splitting up optical network components to provide more flexibility while also enabling real-time dynamics by combining Voyager with a software-defined controller.

In order to keep pace with the increasing demand for data, service providers are looking for a fiber-based infrastructure that is both scalable and cost effective. Based on open specifications, which allows vendors and carriers to amend or extend the components, the Voyager transport box solves those requirements by separating the software from the hardware.

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Facebook announced Voyager two years ago as its white box platform that combined packet switching and dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) for metro and long-haul fiber network optical networks. Facebook subsequently put Voyager into the TIP community.

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Vodafone's Spain trial used Voyager with Cumulus Networks' networking operating system, Zeeta Networks' NeTOS software-defined network (SDN) orchestration and architecture support from Adva Optical Networking.

"We wanted to show how Voyager's variable-rate transceivers can be used to match speeds and modulation formats with actual line conditions," said Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s Group Head of Networks Strategy and Architecture, in a blog post.  "Thanks to a streamlined network operating system and SDN automation, we showed how our live network can set up optical services and keep them running, reduce unnecessary and lengthy customer service interruptions, and improve network utilization."

Highlights from the trial included SDN-based optical performance to 200 Gbps and SDN-based optical real-time monitoring with automatic modulation adaptation from 200 Gbps to 100 Gbps. The trial also featured the upgrade of a legacy 10 Gbps-based WDM system with four 200 Gbps wavelengths to reach a total of 800 Gbps of extra capacity.

The cable industry is also working on TIP-based projects. CableLabs announced its Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab in November.  Specifically, CableLabs is working on TIP virtualized RAN fronthaul projects to address non-ideal IP links.

Earlier this year, the Open Networking Foundation announced its Optical Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) open source project, which is backed by China Mobile, Comcast, NTT, TIM and Telefónica. ODTN was designed to work with the Voyager white box.