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

Network convergence has been occurring for a long time. Today’s evolutionary focus is on the merging of broadband cable and mobile 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 collaborative initiative that brings together the industry to deliver impactful converged network solutions. We aim to push to the forefront of innovation, transforming concepts and impossibilities into practical and adoptable 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?

Broadband operators are uniquely positioned to provide converged services because they already have secure wireline networks and Wi-Fi hotspots in place that reach a vast number of homes and businesses. In many cases, these operators are also mobile operators.

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

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Seamless User Experiences

Deliver a seamless user experience, inside and outside the home, and leverage available wireless and wireline networks, aided by a common policy, identity, authentication, resiliency, and subscription across the networks.

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Creation of New Services

Deliver an agile platform for creating and expediting new business opportunities, for both operators and third-party developers.

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Achieve Economic and Operational Efficiencies

Deliver a network based on common and open platforms, managed via orchestration and automation to make operations more efficient and cost-effective.

03. Innovation

How to Achieve Convergence

Recent enablers such as disaggregation, cloudification, and open interfaces have paved the road for convergence across wireless and wireline networks. The different types of convergence include:

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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.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” convergence roadmap and we are working on all three to accomplish our vision of the future. 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. Innovation

Driving Innovation

Realizing the vision of a truly connected future is a major task that will require effort and innovation. CableLabs has been working on the building blocks needed to support convergence on the wired network side for many years:

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Distributed Access Architectures (DAA)

allows cable operators to convert their extensive fiber networks from analog optics to digital ethernet networks that can support a variety of different services beyond just DOCSIS-based broadband.

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Point-to-Point (P2P) Coherent Optics

enables existing fiber networks to operate at dramatically higher capacities, opening the bandwidth needed to support any services an operator might wish to offer over their network.

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Converged Core

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

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Adrenaline

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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Low Latency Xhaul (LLX)

defines a common, interoperable method for carrying mobile data over DOCSIS and PON networks with reduced latency.

And we haven’t stopped there. Recent convergence initiatives include:

  • Developing MVNO architectures and requirements to support deployment of cable operator mobile offerings and Wi-Fi offload
  • Edge-based access controller supporting real-time intelligent traffic splitting, switching and steering across multiple access technologies
  • Building a service orchestration framework that supports both physical and virtual network functions to automate deployment, configuration, and assurance of converged services

Innovations in fixed and mobile will leverage key technology enablers.

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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 nano surgery, 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. In the video “Diverse Thinkers Wanted”, the main character embarks on a scavenger hunt with the help of her remote colleagues and a slew of futuristic technology. Throughout her adventure, there are certain things the character never does: She never stops to check her network connection or find a network to connect to, and she never has to enter a login or think about her connection. Instead, she’s simply always connected to her colleagues, to her personal assistant, to cars, to information. Moreover, she simply assumes that connection will provide her with whatever she needs.

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” at https://www.cablelabs.com/thenearfuture.

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