Telenor tapped its Nordic neighbor Nokia to replace its legacy optical core network with an updated product compatible with software-defined networking (SDN) technology.
The deal includes replacing connections between 200 nodes across Telenor’s operations in Norway and Sweden. Nokia’s equipment is “SDN-ready” to allow Telenor greater control over network management and control.
Kyle Hollasch, head of optical marketing at Nokia, said the deal calls for Nokia to replace all of the equipment of the incumbent provider. The upgrade is set to support 5G services, cloud applications, and data center interconnections (DCI).
SDN control over optical networks can allow operators to manage port speeds, protocols, and wavelengths; support more advanced modulation and detection schemes; and provide for flexible wavelength routing via dynamic reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (ROADM).
Hollasch said SDN control over optical networking is still a new model for many operators that find it “complex and difficult to operate.” He explained that the ability to open up northbound interfaces using software control provides greater flexibility, but remains a challenging migration process for operators.
“The SDN control is there, even if it’s not being used on day one,” Hollasch said of recent Nokia deployments. “But it just makes sense to eventually take advantage of SDN.”
The SDN component allows for integration between legacy platforms and new platforms from other vendors. Hollasch, for example, said Nokia has done significant platform testing with vendors like NEC/Netcracker and Sedona Systems.
“This can also be done with a multi-vendor solution, but we have an extensive enough history going back through Alcatel-Lucent to provide a more turnkey solution,” Hollasch said.
The deal also includes a management component, which is a five-year professional services contract. “They will likely be running it, but we will be there to handle support and training,” he explained.
Hollasch said deployments of similar scale typically take around one year, with operators usually deploying the new equipment as an overlay before migrating traffic from the legacy system.
Telenor is based in Norway, and operates mobile networks in 13 countries across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Nokia is based in Espoo, Finland.
Hollasch said the familiarity between the two parties obviously had an impact on the deal. Nokia also expects the deal to expand across other Telenor operations in Europe. Beyond the physical proximity, Hollasch cited strong security vetting from Telenor on the project.
“Networks like this fall under a lot of regulations at national levels,” he said. “We were able to fulfill all of the requirements for security in the network, including down through all of the supply chain.”
The same providers placed those three vendors as being in the leading position within the optical networking space. Nokia also joined Ciena and Infinera as top vote getters for being “under evaluation” for future projects.