Telefónica commercially deploys disaggregated cell site gateways

TIP's Axel Clauberg said TIP created a spec for DCSGs even though the Open Compute Project also has a spec. (Pixabay)

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is gearing up for its summit in Amsterdam this week. One of the first related announcements is that Telefónica is commercially deploying disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs) that have been developed through a collaboration between TIP, Infinera and Edgecore Networks.

A cell site gateway is a router that is located near the cell site. It supports 4G and 5G base stations with time synchronization protocols, and it handles internet packets, routing them between the base stations and the mobile packet core for backhaul purposes.

The Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) Project Group within TIP produced the definition of an open white-box cell site gateway device that operators can widely deploy in their current 2G/3G/4G cell sites, but that also supports the port speeds and densities which will be required for 5G networks.

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Telefonica has leveraged its works with TIP to deploy DCSG devices from Edgecore Networks and Infinera, running Infinera’s Converged Network Operating System. The DCSGs are initially part of a nationwide mobile transport deployment by Telefónica in Germany.

“We are excited to mark the industry’s first adoption of DCSG technology in a large-scale live deployment,” said Víctor López, network architect at Telefónica and co-chair of the OOPT group at TIP, in a statement.

TIP vs OCP

TIP publicly released its DCSG technical specification in September.

In 2018, AT&T submitted its own specifications for a white-box cell site gateway router to the Open Compute Project (OCP), which led to the development of the cell site router gateway that AT&T showed at the Open Networking Summit in April 2019.

RELATED: AT&T's Fuetsch says AT&T now has internet white boxes in production

Asked why TIP felt the need to develop its own DCSG specification, Axel Clauberg, chairman of TIP and CTO of telecom services at T-Systems, told FierceWireless that TIP’s work is aligned with the OCP’s work, but TIP members had some specific requirements for a DCSG.

“When you look at the Edgecore product, that is something that is accepted by OCP and used in TIP,” said Clauberg. “We did everything possible to align with the OCP working group and the Open Optical Packet Transport group within TIP. Nevertheless, our members, for example Vodafone, had separate requirements that were not 100% aligned with the AT&T spec.”

Clauberg also made a point of noting that there’s a distinction between a disaggregated cell site gateway and an open CSG. Disaggregated means that the hardware is separate from the software so that carriers can mix and match hardware and software. Meanwhile, “open” means that the software derives from an open source group. In the case of Telefónica, Infinera and Edgecore Networks, the CSG is disaggregated, but it runs Infinera’s operating system software.

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