As Broadband Forum continues to drive forward broadband standards, fostering interoperability and accelerating mass-deployment, the backdrop to its members’ work is changing rapidly.2019 saw the first commercial 5G deployments launched, while Internet of Things (IoT) devices proliferated across


Increased network convergence as 5G proliferates 
Dave Allan, Ericsson, Wireline-Wireless Convergence Work Area Director at Broadband Forum

We have previously seen pockets of 5G deployment, but we are now likely to see a much wider roll out as the technology moves from the concept phase to become a true reality.

This realization of 5G will bring yet another surge in network traffic, which is already growing exponentially, with the technology unlocking new applications such as Virtual Reality, connected cars and remote surgery. As a result, we will see wireless communications rely more heavily on the fixed network and we will continue to see a growing emergence of converged networks. Broadband Forum is already working with 3GPP to ensure fixed networks are ready for this new era of connectivity and this work will further evolve to consider what more can be achieved in the release 17 timeframe.

Cloudification, Automation and DevOps  
Tim Carey, Nokia, OB-BAA Chair at Broadband Forum

As operators look to make their networks more agile and cost-effective, the shift across the industry towards the cloudification of networks – from the Central Office to end-user equipment – has been significant. This will continue across the year, but on a much larger scale, with operators continuing to transform the systems that manage their networks from siloed, special purpose element, network and operational support systems to SDN-enabled systems that provide automated network management and control. As these architectures transform into multi-vendor, micro-service based platforms, a focus on end-to-end solution design, development and evolution will be critical to support the service creation agility that operators require. Operators that have transformed their localized management and control systems will begin to look at migrating selected functionality that is locked in existing network elements towards the cloud as virtualized network functions. In the access network segment these functions include: providing the digital always-on representation of the network elements, collection and storage of performance data to be used for analytic purposes and the management of ONU via the OMCI management entities. In addition to the migration of selected functionality from network elements toward the cloud is the emergence of cloud-based functionality that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning within the network for purposes of operational analytics which will begin to be deployed for selected, high-value processes.

Finally, two more trends which are making their mark on the industry include the aspect of transforming the operator’s management and control functionality and how vendors will fuse their software and hardware life-cycle development practices with the operator’s evolving practices for acceptance, testing, deployment and operation, otherwise known as DevOps. Up until now, network automation has been applied to specific areas of the network, but as this continues to emerge at an accelerated pace, operators will need to think about how they make upgrades compatible with their currently deployed architecture to avoid the costly and disruptive practice of starting from scratch while using similar DevOps practices of the IT community. 
Showcased at 2019 Broadband World Forum last fall, the state-of-the-art CloudCO, ONAP and the OB-BAA reference implementation demonstration provided a good example of the combination of open source technologies and standards that can ensure a seamless migration to automated networks.  

New revenue streams for service providers as Connected Home accelerates

Jason Walls, QA Cafe, Broadband User Services Work Area Co-Director and Co-Chair of Connected Home at Broadband ForumAs consumers bring more connected devices into the home, service providers will have a real opportunity to capitalize on this market.

The proliferation of devices requires proactive management of the home network, starting with the residential gateway, set-top-boxes, and other devices and applications which are critical to the customers’ experience. Service providers face many challenges in doing this. In light of the everchanging ecosystem, consumers are increasingly turning to their broadband service providers for customer support on device-related issues when trying to set up or manage their smart home devices.  Operators are being held responsible for poor device and application performance by their customers because they perceive the integration of devices, applications, and Internet service as part of their overall broadband experience. 
Despite the challenges, service providers are in a unique position to not only deliver the Connected Home concept but also monetize it. As the broadband home router is standard equipment for any subscriber, it serves as a central point for connectivity and network security in the home. This means that service providers can act as a centralized service center that manages other services, with a single point for billing and customer support, simplifying a complex environment for the end-user, which can in turn, improve users’ experience. Furthermore, service providers have the technical expertise for installation and troubleshooting – often more than CE manufacturers themselves – as they have a direct touch point to the consumer’s home network in addition to the consumer’s Internet connection. 
Service providers will begin to provide this central point for consumers’ smart home services. This will be enabled by the evolution of TR-069 for the Connected Home, Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform (USP) which uses the best of open source and standards to open the door to new use cases such as Wi-Fi management, network security, parental control, home security, home automation, and a host of other services that can all be enabled with a system of USP agents and controllers. This begins a truly interoperable ecosystem for user services even through partnerships with third party application providers – an “app store for the subscriber”, accelerated by the continued evolution of the open source USP Agent, as well as a robust certification program for manufacturers to prove their products will work, and work well, as part of a USP system. 

NG-PON2 and XGS-PON will create a multi-gigabit globe amid unprecedented demand for blazingly-fast connectivity 
Bernd Hesse, Calix, Marketing Chair at Broadband Forum

As operators look to deliver multi-gig broadband speeds on demand, many will continue deploying GPON technology while at the same time, complementing their networks with NG-PON2 and XGS-PON. With BBF’s PON certification program, recently enhanced to include NG-PON2 and XGS-PON certification, a significant impact has already been made to ensure multi-gigabit products meet standards and provide operators the confidence to roll out en masse. Therefore, network interoperability can be assured as new PON technologies are deployed, avoiding vendor lock-in and rising deployment costs. 

Broadband Forum is aiming to kick off its ‘PON 2020 Reality Check’, with marketing councils looking to focus on comparing the different PON flavors relevant to the various applications in the industry. Due to the variety of PON technologies in the market today, it is important to have a PON roadmap for the architectures in place and those emerging in the future, including those driven by 5G. This will form the foundation for the upcoming BASe events, which will bring together vendors, operators and analysts from across the industry. 

A combination of open source and standards will underpin everything 
Geoff Burke, Chief Marketing Officer at Broadband Forum

Last year, saw strong momentum around Broadband Forum’s Open Broadband and Quality of Experience Delivered (QED) initiatives, and we continue to work hard to shape the future of broadband access in such critical areas such as 5G, the Connected Home, network migration and access technologies. 

2020 promises to be an even more exciting year with an expanded portfolio of initiatives and accelerating projects. For example, the CloudCO demonstration, which was shared to huge acclaim at 2019 Broadband World Forum, will further evolve, with another demonstration already planned for Fall 2020. This next phase will show an expansion of CloudCO to include the premises and the access edge. We will also take our popular Connected Home and Broadband QED demonstrations to the next level, expanding into new areas such as security, mesh Wi-Fi, and IPv6. 
Our organization is also evolving alongside the rapid change we are seeing in the broadband industry and at our Q4 meeting last year, we became a functionally ‘open’ organization. As a result, we will make all of our work visible as we continue to transform to find the right balance between open source and standards. Reflecting an industry-wide evolution to greater agility and transparency, we have every confidence that this will further open the whole broadband ecosystem by continuing to drive interoperability in the most agile way.
How is 5G going to affect your business? Find out from the experts at this year’s 5GLIVE