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CONNEXUS

The Nexus for Mobile + Fixed Convergence

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01. Introduction

A New Era of Connectivity

con·ver·gence

noun

the process of harmonizing, unifying

The broadband industry stands on the precipice of a new era. Although network convergence has been occurring for well over a decade, we now have the foundational technologies to begin merging mobile and broadband networks. Enabling convergence benefits both operators and end-users.

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For operators, convergence means improved quality of service and enhanced operational agility. Convergence allows an operator to scale and create opportunities, as well as to monetize their network features and capabilities to deliver differentiated services.

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For end-users, convergence provides better, simpler service. End-users will always be connected, wherever they are, without having to think or worry about it. They will have network resources always at their fingertips, whenever they need it, to support whatever they might need to do with both current and future applications. Throughout their experience, they’ll know that the network remains secure.

Connexus and Convergence

Connexus is a multi-faceted collaborative initiative designed to facilitate industry alignment around network convergence so that we can start transforming concepts into practical everyday uses. To realize the vision of a truly connected future, Connexus is crucial to facilitate industry alignment.

With convergence, it will be possible to dynamically signal the converged core so that connectivity can be tailored automatically per user, per device, or even per application. This is customized experience excellence.

Nadia Benabdallah's headshot
Nadia Benabdallah
Group Network Director
Vodafone Italy

02. Convergence

What is Convergence?

Network convergence is the process of unifying disparate access technologies to deliver seamless and ubiquitous connectivity. One of the most important reasons for convergence is the need to meet future demand for a faster, better, and more seamless connected experiences in a way that makes the most business sense. Many broadband operators already provide wireline and wireless services, including Wi-Fi and cellular, so theyre naturally positioned to take this next step.

The convergence of networks is necessary to meet future demands for:

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Seamless User Experiences

With personalized service everywhere, users can set priorities for any device or application associated with their account, regardless of connection method. They have a seamless experience, leveraging available wireless and wireline networks, aided by common policy, identity, authentication, and subscription across networks, both inside and outside the home.

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New Services

Through a new agile platform, operators can create and expedite new business opportunities. With the ability to move from one network to another, customers always have the best connection. Hybrid access provides the ability to intelligently use both mobile and fixed networks to deliver new services.

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Economic Efficiencies

Converged networks are based on common and open platforms, managed by orchestration and automation. Efficient and cost-effective operations are achieved through the use of existing coax and mobile networks, and common power, equipment, compute platforms, and software.

03. Innovation

How to Achieve Convergence

Broadband and mobile networks consist of many layers—for example, core, transport, access, applications, security, policy, and operations. Because these layers can vary from one operator to the next, there’s no “onesize-fits-all” convergence solution. With the launch of the Connexus initiative, were aiming to create a common toolkit of technologies that can be applied to each network layer to achieve three basic types of convergence:

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Network Convergence

combines wireline and wireless services into a single connectivity platform to improve service quality and efficiency.

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Application Convergence

enables a consistent application experience, regardless of the network or platform an application uses, by exposing network capabilities via open, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs).

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Security Convergence

enables tailored experiences through secure identity and privacy-protecting capabilities that can navigate network complexities on the user’s behalf.

Convergence is accomplished through a common toolkit of techniques and specifications that the ecosystem can draw upon. This toolkit is designed to accommodate convergence at each network layer.

The long-term vision for fixed mobile convergence is to deliver ubiquitous wired-wireless connectivity to our customers anywhere and on any device, delivered on cable’s high-capacity and low-latency networks. This means that customers will carry their services, policies and identity with them wherever they go.

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Craig Cowden
SVP, Wireless Technology
Charter

04. Technology

Technological Building Blocks

Many networking trends have made it possible for us to get where we are today. Recent developments in network disaggregation, cloudification, open interfaces, automation, APIs and edge computing have paved the road for convergence in both wireless and wireline networks, making it much easier to merge common functions.

Here at CableLabs, we’ve been preparing for this moment for years by spearheading solutions that we knew would eventually support the vision of a truly network-agnostic future. Today, we consider these solutions to represent technological building blocks of convergence:

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Distributed Access Architectures (DAA)

prepares the cable network with more fiber connectivity and ubiquitous optical Ethernet links to support any service, any time, including mobile and fixed wireless xhaul, business services, and residential broadband. 

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Coherent Optics

leverages the tremendous capacity potential of coherent optical transmission and reception to fully support the aggregation and backhaul requirements of mobile cell sites and intelligent edge devices. 

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Converged Core

enables leveraging of the 5G core for managing subscription, policy, location, user identification, and security controls. 

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Virtualization and Acceleration

defines an architecture for accelerated virtualized infrastructure designed specifically for converged network capabilities leveraging cloud capabilities from the data center to the access network edge. 

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Mobile Transport Solutions

defines cooperative scheduling techniques that allow mobile data to be backhauled over DOCSIS networks with extremely low latency.  

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Mobile Virtual Network Operator Architectures

explores novel converged architectures complementing cable operators’ mobile and Wi-Fi deployments by planning efficient ways to interconnect MNO and MSO networks, in order to improve MVNO user experience and economics 

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Converged Edge Access Controller

facilitates the converged use of cable, fiber, Wi-Fi and mobile access technologies to optimize the use of network assets by providing traffic switching/steering/splitting decisions based on real-time telemetry data and AI/ML inference. 

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Common Service Management Layer

provides a common service orchestration framework for automated deployment, configuration and assurance of wireline and wireless services, with a special focus on studying various hybrid physical and virtual network deployment scenarios. 

05. Together

A Collaborative Ecosystem

CableLabs is a catalyst for new network and broadband technologies. We are the nexus for collaboration across the industry, bringing crucial new technologies to over half a billion customers around the globe. This makes us a natural unifier as convergence requires immense cooperation and communication to realize a harmonized network that works for everyone. Here are some of the convergence collaborative efforts:

The Mobile Convergence Committee (MCC)

An operator-led group whose main objective is to drive a convergence strategy which differentiates the industry.

The MCC will focus on:

  • Requirement definitions
  • Architecture development
  • Proof of concepts

The Convergence Council (CC)

An advisory board composed of a broad range of experts and thought leaders representing multiple aspects of connectivity. The focus is on identifying convergence use cases that will inspire development, as well as solutions and business models that could unlock opportunities.

A Collaborative Lab

The lab is designed to support convergence in collaboration with operators, vendors, and other innovators to experiment, test, and develop converged fixed and mobile networks. The lab was created to:

  • Develop and test next-generation network capabilities across multiple layers
  • Conduct interoperability development across a broad range of technologies
  • Provide network and edge computing infrastructure to develop and test new services, applications, and security on a converged architecture

A Broader Ecosystem

Engagement from the full ecosystem is crucial for successful convergence:

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06. Next

Inventing the Future

Convergence will enable a new wave of innovations that will fundamentally change the way we live, work, learn and play. From smart cities to mixed reality to nanosurgery, convergence involves thinking about what the future might look like, figuring out how we get there, and what we need to make it work.

One of the methods CableLabs uses to visualize that future is our Near Future videos. Although there are aspects of this future vision that may still be a ways off, the ability to be always connected—to always have the connection you need—without thinking about it, may not be as far away as you might think. Check out the video “Diverse Thinkers Wanted”.

The industry has been talking about convergence for a long time. What’s exciting about this CableLabs initiative is that the foundational technologies now exist for us to make this real, and the focus on the customer experience is the right guiding principle.

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Iyad Tarazi
President, CEO and Co-Founder
Federated Wireless

The advantages of convergent networks is clear, and the strong benefit to our customers is equally clear. We will simplify the consumption of new services, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. With the adoption of the ‘Network as a Platform’ approach, we make the underlying networks invisible to our customers.

Nadia Benabdallah's headshot
Nadia Benabdallah
Group Network Director
Vodafone Italy

With Xfinity Mobile, Comcast has taken its leading connectivity experience outside the home and given our customers the ability to access the Internet from anywhere. As we look toward a future with more integrated experiences across all of our services, we’re excited to work with CableLabs toward the virtualization and convergence that will help make that a reality.

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Tom Nagel
Senior Vice President, Wireless Strategy and Development
Comcast

We believe that bringing together a common vision and strategy in wireless, cable infrastructure and—most important—customer experience is critical to moving the industry forward. As members of CableLabs, we’re very pleased to participate in the Mobile Convergence Committee to help simplify converged solutions and bring new experiences to customers.

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Luciano Ramos
Senior Vice President, Network Development, Planning & Engineering
Rogers

Cable access digitization and transition to cloud is a ripe environment for bandwidth-rich solutions. Intelligence and convergence will enable myriad end-to-end services and a seamless user experience.

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Steve Alexander
Chief Technology Officer
Ciena

Cable providers will play a critical role in the era of 5G and the edge. Convergence is essential for ensuring consistent service and persistent connectivity.

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Caroline Chan
Vice President and General Manager, Network Business Incubator Division
Intel

The time for convergence is now, as we can leverage key building blocks like virtualization, network disaggregation, open interfaces and multi-access edge computing, automation, along with artificial intelligence and machine learning, to manage network complexities.

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Craig Cowden
SVP, Wireless Technology
Charter

The future of convergence and mobile access networks will be to lean forward toward virtualized and disaggregated platforms. These platforms will be flexible and maximize user and enterprise experience. This will create great opportunities between cable operators and mobile operators to cooperate in many ways in the 5G era. Leveraging transport platforms and utilizing common technologies are strong opportunities for greater cooperation between different types of operators that minimize the total cost of ownership."

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Mariam Sorond
Chief Research & Development Officer & Senior Vice President
CableLabs