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Vodafone pioneers flexible Ethernet in UK

4 Jun 2018Technology news
2 minute read

We are continuously working to make our Transport network more flexible to support the desire of our business customers to be able to more quickly and flexibly access connectivity when needed.

In business, every second, and every euro, counts and in the future we want Vodafone customers to have the ability to instantly increase the amount of capacity they have for as long as they need it. This would be very useful if, for instance, a company is hosting an employee webinar or is launching a new digital product.

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Working with Ciena, a telecom networking and software technology company that has been developing adaptive optical network technology, we demonstrated what we believe is the world’s first programmable infrastructure based on FlexEthernet, a flexible Ethernet client interface standard defined by the Optical Internetworking Forum, using Vodafone UK’s Red Stream network.

RedStream is Vodafone UK's IP-based converged core network. Consisting of more than 200 core sites connected by more than 11,000 km of optical fibre and with more than 1,000 Multi-Protocol label switching (MPLS) enabled aggregation nodes, the network provides converged connectivity for Vodafone’s mobile base stations, consumer broadband services and enterprise data and voice customers throughout the UK. Built on the latest photonic technology, it is future-proofed to meet the growing demand for bandwidth.

FlexEthernet, provides a generic mechanism of supporting a variety of Ethernet rates. The technology we tested was capable of delivering speeds of up to 400 Gigabits per second over a single wavelength. We also tested flexible spectrum based on Ciena’s tunable WaveLogic Ai coherent optics and Manage Control and Plan controller. Flexible spectrum could give enterprise customers the ability to sublease part of the bandwidth purchased by Vodafone if desired for current and future 5G applications where latency and reliability are crucial.

Today, optical networks are considered as static, fixed resources that limit network provider service agility. New technologies like SDN in combination with programmable optical infrastructure will change the way these networks are designed, managed, and commercialised.

The combination of these technologies will enable Vodafone in future to automatically adapt and adjust wavelength capacity to keep services available at all times without the need for additional hardware or manual intervention. It’s great that Vodafone and Ciena have pioneered technology that could become a core part of the way businesses operate in the Gigabit Societies we want to build.

Eva Rossi is responsible for defining Vodafone’s end-to-end transport architecture and select transport technologies, as well as for defining the transformation towards an SDN-based transport network. Eva is a Distinguished Engineer who joined Vodafone in 1998 and has held a number of technology roles in relation to transmission and transport networks.

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