Vodafone has successfully completed a live network trial in Spain with the Facebook-designed Voyager optical “whitebox” as part of its work with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP).

An increased demand for data is driving the need for more scalable and cost-effective infrastructure. To solve that challenge, telecoms operators need a combination of connectivity and scalable and cost-effective fiber-based infrastructure.

Facebook developed a new open-system approach called Open Packet DWDM, which uses combined packet and DWDM technology for metro and long-haul fiber optic transport networks. It enables a clean separation of software and hardware and is based on open specifications, so any vendor can contribute packet or DWDM systems, components, or software. Open Packet DWDM was contributed by Facebook to TIP, an open source hardware consortium, and used to develop the Voyager transponder platform.

The goal of the live trial was to showcase the future of applying a disaggregated model to optical networks and to provide more flexibility to handle the real time dynamics using Voyager, combined with a software-defined networking (SDN) controller.

Using Voyager with a network operating system developed by Cumulus Networks, the NetOS® network orchestration from Zeetta Networks, and with the support of ADVA as one of the architects of the platform, the trial demonstrated how Voyager can be implemented over an existing optical infrastructure, delivering capacity of 800Gbit/s per rack unit and, thanks to SDN, dynamically adapting the system modulation as fiber conditions change.

Some of the achievements of the trial were:

  • SDN-based optical commissioning (modulation, power, frequency) to 200Gbit/s, 16QAM and 100Gbit/s quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK)
  • SDN-based optical real-time monitoring with automatic modulation adaptation from 200Gbit/s, 16QAM to 100Gbit/s, QPSK maintaining connectivity with 50% capacity of traffic in the case of optical line degradation and reverting automatically to 16QAM when the degradation was fixed 
  • Upgrade of a legacy 10Gbit/s-based legacy WDM system with 4 x 200Gbit/s wavelengths for a total of 800Gbit/s of extra capacity

Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s group head of networks strategy and architecture said: "We wanted to show how Voyager's variable-rate transceivers can be used to match speeds and modulation formats with actual line conditions. Thanks to a streamlined network operating system and SDN automation, we showed how our live network can set up optical services and keep them running, reduce unnecessary and lengthy customer service interruptions, and improve network utilization."

"There's a huge push in the industry right now to improve the operational efficiency of optical networks. It's a major priority for service providers and offers some tantalizing opportunities," commented Stephan Rettenberger, SVP, marketing and investor relations, ADVA. "What we showcased here with Vodafone is how Voyager can be used to automatically switch its speed and modulation format to match line conditions. This functionality is key for service providers to avoid unnecessary downtime. What we're seeing at the moment is that BER degradation results in the type of outage you’d expect from a total loss of light on optical fibers. This doesn’t need to happen. Voyager’s variable transmission speed and modulation completely negate avoidable outages. This demo highlights a clear path for service providers to follow to dramatically improve network availability and efficiency."

Read more on all our TIP activity here.