Nineteen telecom equipment providers took part in 5G-focused multi-vendor interoperability tests that were organized by the Berlin-based European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC) in March. The results were showcased at the recent MPLS + SDN + NFV World Congress in Paris.
The tests placed a strong focus on the 5G readiness of multi-vendor transport networks. They encompassed 174 test combinations involving 68 device types targeted at next-generation wide-area transport solutions, network management, and clock synchronization. 5G use cases were central to several of the tests, including interoperable network slicing concepts and meeting 5G time and phase delivery requirements over last-mile networks.
Participating vendors included China-based suppliers Huawei and ZTE as well as ADVA Optical Networking, Arista Networks, BISDN, Calnex Solutions, Cisco, Delta Electronics, ECI Telecom, Ericsson, Intracom Telecom, IP Infusion, Ixia, Juniper Networks, Meinberg, Microsemi, Nokia, Seiko Solutions, and Spirent Communications.
Specifically, the tests focused on the latest developments in Ethernet VPN (EVPN), segment routing, SDN controllers, precision time protocol (PTP) for 5G, Netconf and common Yang models, and the integration of microwave equipment with MPLS.
Carsten Rossenhoevel, managing director at EANTC, noted that SDN solutions for WANs and data centers are becoming mature and widely interoperable.
“This year, we have seen more vendors supporting the full suite of SDN-WAN protocols and more successful test combinations than ever before,” he said. “5G services support is being enhanced in the transport network as the SDN service diversity, telemetry, manageability, high-precision clock synchronization, and the integration of microwave backhaul with SDN have improved since last year’s event.”
With regard to 5G, ADVA has previously noted that operators need to prepare their transport and synchronization architectures for a host of new challenges if they are to make a success of 5G deployments.
Nir Laufer, director of product line management at ADVA’s Oscilloquartz unit, wrote in a blog in February that from a timing perspective a major part of the evolution to 5G is meeting the stringent phase and time demands of networks based on time division duplex (TDD) and cooperative radio techniques.
“Previous generations of mobile technology mainly required frequency synchronization. Now operators are looking to design networks capable of delivering phase synchronization to base stations and small cells with an accuracy in the range of a few hundred nanoseconds to 1.5 microseconds,” Laufer wrote.
In the latest EANTC tests, ADVA said its cell site gateway, edge computing aggregation devices, and core grandmaster clock were successful in trials focused on new 5G timing requirements. It also said its metro service aggregation platform performed well in what were the first EANTC tests verifying support for PTP over 100 Gb/s links. ZTE also hailed the successful testing of its 5G transport and controller products in the areas of EVPN, segment routing, SDN, and clock synchronization.
Jimmy Mizrahi, executive vice president for ECI’s Global Portfolio, summed up the challenges for vendors by noting that 5G will require a service-oriented network, “which can dynamically, yet assuredly, change to support new services and changing traffic patterns. This will necessitate a change to how we currently provision networks and manage network traffic. Segment routing-TE and PCEP are essential to making 5G network slicing work.”