Vodafone has tested a new network slicing technology in Ireland that it claims will support new business models and potentially aid the deployment of fibre networks.

The trial with Huawei demonstrated how virtualisation could be used to create separate network slices for consumer and enterprise customers on the same FTTH link.

One slice carried standard residential broadband and Vodafone TV services, while the other carried the operator’s OneNet service for businesses, which includes voice.

The technology, commonly referred to as fixed access network slicing, allows separate services to be managed by separate operations teams.

This could include teams within a single operator or from different operators altogether, according to the two telcos.

Matt Beal, Director of Technology Architecture and Strategy at Vodafone, wrote in a blog that the technology would therefore provide several benefits.

He said he was “confident” that it would increase overall utilisation levels and stimulate the development of new services.

Further, other operators are able to provision, configure and assure a service with “little or no intervention” from the owner of the network.

In turn, this could boost the roll out of full fibre networks by making joint venture and co-investment models more attractive.

“Vodafone has deployed several FTTH networks around the world and many of these are with partners,” Beal said.

“Virtualisation of the fixed access network will help us build and fill FTTH networks in a more cost-effective way that takes advantage of new operating models where both Vodafone and its deployment partners are able to differentiate their services over the shared fibre infrastructure.”  

Madalina Suceveanu, Vodafone Ireland Technology Director, said: “We are committed in supporting the key stakeholders in further developing the technology with a view of deployment in networks in Ireland and across other markets in the near future.”

As of 30 September 2017, Vodafone had 265,000 fixed broadband customers in Ireland, up 1,000 year-on-year.

It also has a stake in FTTH wholesale provider SIRO, a joint venture with utility provider ESB, which has now passed 120,000 premises and has services live or under construction in 25 towns.

In the UK, Vodafone revealed today (18 January) that Milton Keynes will be the destination of the first FTTH network it is working on with CityFibre.

Last September, it announced plans to spend €2 billion on rolling out FTTH in Germany.

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