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Vodafone taps Nokia for European fixed-line upgrade

fibre broadband

Nokia has bagged a significant deal involving Vodafone’s 143 million European fixed broadband customers.

Under the agreement, Voda will conduct proof-of-concept (PoC) trials of Nokia’s Altiplano SDN manager and controller (SDN-M&C) services for multi-access fixed networks. If all goes well, the two companies will begin a broader rollout later this year.

“The last few years have proven that the resilience of economies depends on our ability to quickly respond to changing societal needs,” said Gavin Young, head of Vodafone’s fixed access centre of excellence. “Nokia’s Altiplano solution will enable us to help our customers adapt to new developments even quicker.”

The controller is the brain of a software-defined network. It sits on a server between the application layer and the infrastructure layer, using policy-based forwarding to automatically optimise the flow of traffic through the network. Nokia claims that its SDN controller will “simplify, automate, visualise, optimise and enhance” Vodafone’s broadband networks, supporting its network-as-a-platform (NaaP) strategy.

According to the Finnish vendor, another reason why Vodafone is keen to try out its Altiplano solution is because of its ability to work across multi-generational, multi-technology, multi-vendor environments, which is an important consideration if you’re a telco with a diverse range of operating companies spread across multiple markets.

“Our SDN-M&C platform is built with openness in mind,” said Sandy Motley, president of Nokia Fixed Networks. “Nokia’s SDN controller platform provides open and standardised APIs and leverages open source where applicable. The result is our Altiplano access controller can manage and control any SDN-native, disaggregated, legacy and third-party equipment and is highly customisable to suit operator needs now and in the future.”

As the only vendor selected for Vodafone’s European PoC trials, this could prove to be a lucrative win for Nokia. And as for Vodafone, it’s all part of its ongoing strategy to improve efficiency across its operating footprint by standardising products and procedures, and by process automation. Other big deals in line with this strategy include Vodafone selecting Samsung as its lead Open RAN vendor for the whole of Europe, for example.

“We are driving simplification and automation throughout our network and IT systems across Europe and Africa to further improve the customer experience and support the growing number of connected devices,” said Young.

Meanwhile, it’s not the only eye-catching partnership Nokia and Vodafone have shared this week. On Wednesday, the two revealed they are working on what they claim is the world’s first marine-focused 5G testbed.

Based in Plymouth in the UK, and called Smart Sound Connect, it will offer private 5G coverage from the quayside to more than 20 miles offshore. The idea is that it will attract local and international businesses keen on developing new marine 5G use cases, including autonomous vehicles. With any luck, it’ll be plain sailing for all involved.

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