Facebook is today hosting the first Telecom Infra Project (TIP) summit at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. A highlight of the summit is the announcement of Voyager — a Facebook-designed, packet-optical transponder platform.
Facebook’s end goal with TIP is to make fast Internet available to people worldwide. A lofty goal for sure.
To do that, it needs to figure out a way to efficiently deploy fiber both within and between urban and rural areas. Toward that aim, it wants to unbundle the hardware and software in today’s proprietary packet-optical transport systems, which include transponders, filters, line systems, and control and management software.
Voyager is a first step toward that goal. Facebook refers to Voyager as a “white box transponder and routing solution.”
It’s based on an open source system that combines packet technology for switching and routing, along with dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) transport technology.
Voyager is open sourced via the project group known as Backhaul: Open Optical Packet Transport. TIP members can contribute packet or DWDM systems, components, or software to the project.
Facebook has been working with the following TIP partners to test Voyager.
- Equinix tested Voyager along with Lumentum’s open line system over 140km of production fiber in the United States.
- MTN shared the results of its test of Voyager over its production fiber network in South Africa.
- Acacia Communications, Broadcom, Celestica, Lumentum, and Snaproute are delivering a complete disaggregated hardware and software optical networking platform.
- ADVA Optical Networking is providing commercial support for Voyager, including all of the software support.
- Coriant is extending its networking software to enable engineering support for Voyager, providing routing and switching as well as DWDM transmission capabilities.
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Facebook says the combination of DWDM and open packet switching/routing will create more programmable network architectures.
Juniper Networks, for instance, has joined TIP because it wants optical transponders within optical line systems to be more interoperable to bridge network layers, which can then be controlled with software-defined networking (SDN). Juniper says TIP provides the forum to create that interoperability.