Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, and TIM Brasil are working together to develop a white box gateway device for mobile cell sites. The operators are all members of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), which coordinated the Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway (DCSG) group’s work.
Two suppliers, ADVA Optical Networking and Edgecore Networks, have already started working on the design and contribution to TIP of a white box gateway device, Odyssey-DCSG. This is the first device that meets the technical specification. ADVA says it will be available in the second half of 2019.
These devices will be open, disaggregated, interoperable, and supplier-neutral. And this type of technology becomes increasingly important as mobile operators roll out 5G deployments because it allows operators to use hardware and software of their choice and bring these interoperable pieces together with faster time-to-market for services.
“What we’re announcing today will give mobile network operators a simple and complete solution to a key problem with their 5G rollouts: How do they cost-effectively deploy hundreds of thousands of cell site gateways to meet 5G traffic demands?” said Niall Robinson, VP of global business development at ADVA in a statement.
Vodafone started this effort earlier this year as part of the Open Optical & Packet Transport group within TIP. Since then, the other three global mobile operators — Orange, Telefonica, and TIM Brazil — joined the DCSG group, and the partners have been working to define the technology and specifications.
Some of the operators are now issuing a request for information (RFIs) seeking information from potential supplier partners on various aspects of the system including hardware, network operating system, protocol support, dynamic configurability, and manageability, leveraging the existing ecosystem of software, hardware and system integrator partners.
The DCSG group’s work is similar to what AT&T is doing to unbundle the cell site. In March, the carrier said it plans to install more than 60,000 open source, software-powered white boxes across its network over the next several years in support of its aggressive 5G plans. AT&T said these white box routers are part of a “radical realignment” of its network architecture and key to supporting 5G services.