Colt Technology Services is linking up with Cisco to initiate backhaul sharing among mobile network providers on 5G networks. Colt is now deploying Cisco’s segment routing and Ethernet VPN architecture to enable network operators to be more flexible in how they deliver bandwidth at scale based on characteristics like data rates, latency requirements, and the impact on fiber efficiency.
“Backhaul based on Ethernet will allow [mobile network operators] to share more efficient transport connectivity versus procuring a dedicated pair of dark fiber,” Aaron Partouche, principal business development director at Colt, wrote in response to questions. This enables ethernet backhaul to evolve on a network that can “cope dynamically and act flexibly with various service level agreements (SLAs) depending on the applications. Segment routing is one key feature that makes our network more scalable and dynamic.”
The will also allow mobile operators to self provision for guaranteed SLAs based on latency and bandwidth demand, according to Partouche. Sharing fiber for backhaul is typically a time-consuming process that requires manual oversight.
“Before segment routing, doing traffic engineering at scale was a particular problem. Segment routing changes that,” said Sumeet Arora, senior vice president and general manager of service provider network systems at Cisco. Segment routing enables network operators to deliver on the promise of 5G by creating separate classes of network capabilities at scale based on the specific needs of each application or connection, he added.
“You can do that very efficiently and at scale under control of an SDN controller or an automation system,” Arora said. “We have extended the capability all the way to the backhaul and cell sites as well, so you can do it all across the network.”
Sharing 5G Backhaul Costs
By building converged infrastructure with these capabilities and sharing costs, carriers with high backhaul capacity can sell to other mobile operators without impacting their own network, Arora explained. “We have made sure that the infrastructure is shareable.”
Mobile operators don’t currently have other options for sharing assets and connectivity, according to Partouche. “We see this causing an emergence of new key players acting as neutral hosts, such as the tower companies. This scenario applies obviously to mobile operators without their own fiber.”
With Cisco’s segment routing and Ethernet VPN architecture now built into Colt’s platform, customers gain access to standards-based APIs that can automate 5G backhaul requirements and create network slices based on specific demands, Partouche explained. Colt says its technology is present in more than 850 data centers around the world.
“Although the connectivity is shared, each mobile network operator can have a different SLA for their applications,” Partouche wrote. “The openness and programmability of the architecture can be extended to specific industry verticals using standards-based APIs. The architecture enables self-provisioning of guaranteed SLA services or network slices based on latency and bandwidth demands.”