NTT Introduces New FASA Concept for Future Access Systems

- With Access Equipment Modularization, NTT Enables Service Providers to Begin Service Immediately -

Feb 09, 2016, 04:00 ET from Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation

TOKYO, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In order to enable a more diverse range of services to be provided quickly and at low cost, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (hereinafter "NTT") has introduced the FASA (*1) (Flexible Access System Architecture) concept for technology development on future access networks. FASA aims to serve customers and service providers who use access networks and wish to begin using or providing services immediately.

FASA will not make use of conventional purpose-built equipment, but instead modularize the various individual functions of access equipment as much as possible to enable the free combination of these individual components. This will allow functions to be built into the equipment at low cost and flexibly as required for services, while still maintaining the same service quality. The innovative concept of this sort of modularization technology for implementation in access equipment is the first of its kind in the world. Additionally, an API (*2) developed in cooperation with multiple partners will be released in phases, promoting a commonly usable API.

NTT has developed NetroSpherePIT as a visualized testing environment for the implementation of the NetroSphere concept (*3). Testing of FASA under NetroSpherePIT has already begun, in addition to the testing of technologies that work toward the concept, such as Multi-Service Fabric (MSF), new server architecture (MAGONIA), and Integrated Management. In the future, NTT will perform R&D with even greater openness, in cooperation with other carriers and vendors.

In February 2015, NTT introduced the NetroSphere concept, a vision of R&D for future communications networks. At that time, MSF and MAGONIA were also announced as R&D initiatives working toward the implementation of the concept and transforming network infrastructure for the future. Additionally, in May 2014, NTT announced the "Hikari Collaboration Model," which promoted the further use of access networks by enabling various business players to collaborate in the creation of new types of communications services. However, access networks are equipped with a large amount of access-specific equipment, making it difficult to promptly change or add functions and stalling any large reduction of costs. FASA will be introduced in this context as a part of the NetroSphere concept to transform access networks and their system architecture.

FASA (Fig. 1)
Conventionally, network infrastructure has been comprised of equipment specifically developed for each function. This is true of access networks as well, which contain a large amount of purpose-built equipment. Thus, in order to add or change a function to meet the requirements of new services, at present it is necessary to newly develop the equipment from the device level. Moreover, equipment specifications differ from vendor to vendor, making large cost reductions on equipment difficult to achieve and equipment maintenance complicated.

With FASA, the components of access equipment are separated into three types: (1) software components, (2) generic hardware, and (3) external modules. FASA enables access equipment to provide its necessary functions through the unrestricted combination of these three component types. With software components (1), it will become possible to add new functions quickly and flexibly just by adding or updating necessary software in response to the requirements of services. For the generic functions of access equipment, generic hardware (2) will make it less frequently necessary to newly develop equipment from the device level by striving to achieve a set of common generic components. The creation of such components can also be expected to lower
equipment costs and make maintenance simpler by reducing the number of component types that need maintenance. For functions like optical transmission that are difficult to address with either software components or generic hardware, things like optimal transmission capacities can be achieved through the use of external modules (3) that can be substituted for dedicated hardware
in response to the requirements of services.

FASA aims to achieve a structure that can meet the needs of service providers who want to begin providing service immediately. It does this by making it possible to add on or exchange newly developed software components and external modules to achieve necessary features based on customers' and service providers' demand. For example, mobile traffic is growing year by year, and it is expected that coordination between mobile communications and access systems will be used to efficiently accommodate this growing traffic. While mobile communication specifications are in a state of rapid evolution, access systems can enable providers to begin providing new services sooner with FASA's generic hardware, timely software component add-ons, and the use of external modules.

Commonly usable API by multiple partners (Fig. 2)
FASA seeks to achieve thorough modularization while still maintaining the quality of access services (e.g. fair transmission speeds among customers) provided by conventional access-specific equipment. To achieve this, access equipment will be modularized in implementation as described above, and it will be necessary to introduce an API to handle the exchange of data among these components. This is an innovative concept and the first of its kind in the world. Moreover, the introduction of an API commonly usable by partners both domestically and internationally can be expected to attract a large number of vendors while also achieving modularization, universal compatibility, and cost reduction. NTT plans to introduce the FASA API in phases moving forward into the future. (The first API release is scheduled for May 2016.) API brush-up work will also be conducted in cooperation with partners who support the project's core concept.

Testing in NetroSpherePIT (Fig. 3)
NTT has developed NetroSpherePIT as a test environment for the NetroSphere concept, and it is used for work on identifying issues and implementing the concept in practice. NetroSpherePIT, named with reference to a pit in automobile racing, serves as a space for sending new technologies and services into the field (i.e. for commercialization) in cooperation with a variety of partners. Collaborative testing has already begun with some partner companies. At the NTT R&D Forum 2016 (*4), FASA will be given a public test run in NetroSpherePIT along with MSF, MAGONIA, and Integrated Management. Here, feasibility will be tested in NetroSpherePIT for prototypes in which OLT functionality is handled though modularized hardware components and some modularized software components. These prototypes will be assessed in a virtual environment using generic hardware.

Looking forward
To bring FASA to fruition, it will be necessary to achieve this transformation in partnership with many players in the communications industry. In the future, NTT will cooperate with international and domestic equipment vendors, carriers, and others who share a vision for FASA or something similar to FASA. Open cooperation will also be pursued for initiatives like joint work on API brush-ups and joint testing under NetroSpherePIT.

(*1) FASA: Flexible Access System Architecture.

(*2) API: Application Programming Interface. This is an interface that
specifies how components should interact.

(*3) NetroSphere concept: "NetroSphere: Towards the Transformation of Carrier
Networks" (NTT news release Feb 19, 2015)

(*4) NTT R&D Forum 2016:
To be held February 18-19, 2016, at the NTT Musashino R&D Center (Musashino,

About Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
CEO: Hiroo Unoura

Attachments/ References
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FASA and MSF are trademarks of NTT. MAGONIA is a registered trademark of NTT.

SOURCE Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation