China Mobile is collaborating with test equipment maker Viavi on hardware and software that supports Slicing Packet Network (SPN) for flexible Ethernet (FlexE) technology. The Chinese operator is planning to use FlexE combined with SPN as its transport technology for 5G, which it plans to deploy by the end of 2019.
China Mobile said that by using SPN in conjunction with FlexE it will be able to divide up the Ethernet pipe to create smaller channels, or slices, at the transport layer. This allows for multiple services to be supported without impacting service quality.
According to Andreas Schubert, senior product line manager at Viavi, Viavi’s job is to make sure that all the various vendors and system suppliers are standardizing their products so they are interoperable and so that China Mobile can fully implement SPN for FlexE.
The company is developing an SPN test platform that will establish a common foundation that equipment makers, chip developers, and transceiver vendors can use to validate their products. “We are lab testing the technology now with field testing in the future,” Schubert said.
China Mobile is hoping to use its status as the world’s largest mobile operator to encourage the ITU to standardize SPN. And to that end, Viavi is working with the China Mobile Research Institute to help develop testing protocols for SPN that will then be used by the ITU.
FlexE technology is being explored by other operators as a way to more effectively use their Ethernet backhaul. In fact, Huawei talked about FlexE as part of its X-Haul platform that it launched last August.