Advanced Television

Broadband Forum finalises specs to increase gateway scalability

October 7, 2020

Operators facing increasing bandwidth demands will now be able to increase the scalability of their networks in a more flexible way, as Broadband Forum completed its specifications for Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) disaggregation.

With video and broadband consumption continuing to grow, Broadband Forum’s ‘Control and User Plane Separation for a Disaggregated BNG’ (TR-459) addresses the increasing bandwidth demands being placed on BNGs and the challenges in control plane and user plane scaling. The architecture also reduces time to market for new services and increases service resilience.

Additionally, it significantly simplifies network operation by drastically reducing the number of management points. Disaggregated BNG User Plane deployments can be scaled to match subscribers’ broadband demand and then be managed by a control plane instance in a centralised location. This brings benefits such as reduced operational expenditure (OPEX) for operators.

“Over the years, BNGs have had to evolve to support new functionalities such as management of multiple types of accesses, transport encapsulations and customers,” said Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh. “Broadband Forum’s work responds to the changing ecosystem and ensures flexible scalability through an agile architecture constructed to meet operators’ needs.”

Defining the architecture and requirements for a disaggregated BNG control plane and user plane, TR-459 separates the control plane and data plane. The work will enable the control plane and user plane to be easily scaled independently according to what is needed for new services and additional customers. This will also bring benefits such as centralized locations for configuration and IP address management, leading to easier operations and faster delivery of new services.

Geographical-related challenges such as fragmented IP pool management, under-utilised control plane and complex operation and management for software upgrades and service provisioning are also addressed by the specification.

“Operators have previously suffered from very limited choice when addressing subscriber growth or bandwidth demand. The most common approach has always been to add more BNGs into the network,” said Kenneth Wan, Senior Product Manager at Nokia. “The Disaggregated BNG changes this. It not only offers flexible user and control plane scaling but ensures operational simplicity by using a single control plane function to manage multiple instances of user plane. The completion of TR-459 is of significant importance, especially for service providers, who have been eagerly anticipating a Broadband Forum standard Disaggregated BNG reference architecture with standardised interfaces and protocols.”

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