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Dynamic and flexible on-demand connectivity will level-up operators’ revenue streams

by Anthony Weaver

17 April 2023: A more seamless broadband experience will be provided to subscribers thanks to a ground-breaking dynamic new standard which enables operators to seamlessly reconfigure a connection to meet the specific demands of the broadband application in use.

Broadband Forum’s work on WT-474 Subscriber Session Steering is well underway. The project will deliver flexible on-demand connectivity that detects traffic changes and automatically scales to preserve the user experience, bringing benefits to both the service provider and their customers. Essentially, this provides operators with a load balancing and service selection capability right at the ingress to the broadband network.

This will allow operators to better utilize network assets, save energy, and ensure their networks can run more efficiently. The ability to treat subscribers individually allows operators to use different network paths for subscribers with varying service offerings.

“Typically, traditional fixed broadband networks have relatively static configurations in the access network, with subscribers mapped to specific gateways,” said Jonathan Newton, Vodafone and Co-Director of the Access and Transport Architecture Work Area at Broadband Forum. “Subscriber Session Steering breaks through restrictions on a service provider’s ability to offer innovative edge services, ensuring that the network is loaded evenly, coping with issues such as device failures, and allowing service providers to focus on service innovation.”

Using the CloudCO framework, Subscriber Session Steering can dynamically move a subscriber’s service to a different Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) user plane (the function carrying the network user traffic) in real-time if it is not meeting the quality a customer demands for video streaming or gaming. For example, an operator can change the user plane location to improve the latency that is needed for an end-user’s gaming session.

Beyond gaming, operators can use the SDN-enabled capabilities to offer tailored packages for remote workers, telehealth use cases and smart home services, for example. For the end-user, they receive a seamless experience as they are afforded on-demand access to low latency services, improved availability, and reduced maintenance. It will allow operators to offer a greater range of service levels with the knowledge of network costs in relation to each service offering.

“As we continue to migrate to a fully virtualized network, operators desire new tools to effectively manage and upgrade networks and differentiate the services they offer to customers,” said Ken Ko, Managing Director at Broadband Forum. “WT-474 is enabling increasing differentiation by dynamically steering subscribers to an optimized user plane function. An operator can now change the user plane location of an existing subscriber session in order to address a particular application’s service level agreement (SLA) requirements.”

Until operators can steer sessions, virtual BNG (vBNG) deployments will remain statically tied to specific servers and this limits the ability to scale effectively to meet demand. With session steering functionality, load balancing can be enabled across vBNG user plane instances and operators can manage software in a cloud native model, seamlessly rolling out software in a controlled way.

To watch the latest demo video on the project, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBolrhpbX6A.

About the Broadband Forum

Broadband Forum is the communications industry’s leading open standards development organization focused on accelerating broadband innovation, standards, and ecosystem development. Our members’ passion – delivering on the promise of broadband by enabling smarter and faster broadband networks and a thriving broadband ecosystem.

Broadband Forum is an open, non-profit industry organization composed of the industry’s leading broadband operators, vendors, thought leaders who are shaping the future of broadband, and observers who closely track our progress. Its work to date has been the foundation for broadband’s global proliferation and innovation. For example, the Forum’s flagship TR-069 CPE WAN Management Protocol has nearly 1 billion installations worldwide.

Broadband Forum’s projects span across 5G, Connected Home, Cloud, and Access. Its working groups collaborate to define best practices for global networks, enable new revenue-generating service and content delivery, establish technology migration strategies, and engineer critical device, service & development management tools in the home and business IP networking infrastructure. We develop multi-service broadband packet networking specifications addressing architecture, device and service management, software data models, interoperability and certification in the broadband market.

Our free technical reports and white papers can be found at https://www.broadband-forum.org/.

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