Vodafone has begun deploying new disaggregated cell site gateway routers to be able to more cost-effectively upgrade 4G cell sites to 5G and bring new ones online. The routers are the essential link between a mobile site and the core network which connects customers to the internet.
Called Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG), these routers consist of hardware and software that can be sourced independently from multiple vendors and are based on open architecture and standard APIs. They replace existing single supplier, monolithic routers, giving Vodafone a more flexible way of building transport networks to support customer’s need for fast and highly responsive connectivity.
In addition, these DCSG routers can transport customer traffic over mobile backhaul fibre links, as well as support enterprise customers’ dedicated connections, at speeds of up to 100 gigabit per second. This allows Vodafone to support exponential growth in mobile data and internet usage across the entire network.
Vodafone pioneered the development and testing of DCSG routers under the auspices of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) industry body. They have been put through their paces during initial technical trials in Romania and South Africa, in partnership with Vodacom, during 2020 and 2021, demonstrating the capability of the DCSG to support any mobile technology and to interwork with Vodafone suppliers.
Following further tests in Turkey earlier this year, Vodafone is now installing them within the live network, starting deployment from South Marmara to further extend the deployment – across the rest of the country.
Santiago Tenorio, Director of Vodafone Network Architecture, said: “The dynamic and growing nature of internet traffic continually tests the capacity limits of cell sites everywhere. By opening the door to greater vendor diversity and network automation, we can stay ahead of the curve and bring new mobile sites online more quickly and cheaply.”
DCSG routers are based on the same principles as Open Radio Area Network (RAN) equipment. They work using open software and hardware from multiple vendors, and for the first time, interconnect with cell sites running on radio equipment from both new Open RAN and traditional vendors.
Vodafone is using hardware from Edgecore Networks Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Taiwanese company Accton Technology Corporation and a provider for the latest open networking technology, together with software from the German networking and software company ADVA, for the rollout in Turkey. The Vodafone DCSG router is easy to install, and subsequent software changes and capacity upgrades can be made automatically, making it more cost effective to extend 5G to more people.