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BT, Vodafone, DT and Verizon pledge to help merge 5G and fixed broadband 

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Critics say initiative needs massive support commitment

Soon 5G services could be offered to subscriber over their land lines, if a new initiative announced by the Broadband Forum comes to fruition.

The mission is to simplify the development of products and services, the spirit of which is undermined by the sesquipedalian title of the proposed standard: Open Broadband – WWC Reference Implementation for 5G-RG (residential gateway) (OB-5WWC).

The aim is to help vendors and operators get products to market quicker, by cutting the development times and cycles. “The Open Source project will bring the full benefits of the 5G ecosystem to fixed-line services and offer a full end-to-end solution to operators,” said the Forum in a statement.

Telcos pledged support for standard

Telcos including BT, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, Telecom Italia and Telstra have pledged support in developing the new Open Broadband standard. Many of the world’s telcos are already working on the convergence of fixed line and mobile networks with the recent merger of BT and EE a case in point.

According to ISP Review wireless and fixed line broadband infrastructures are characterised by disparate aggregation and core networks. BT has reportedly struggled to develop its Halo for Business portfolio of products.

The open source ethos behind OB-5WWC should create a “production grade 5G solution stack capable of integration with OpenWRT/RDK-B frameworks,” the Forum said.

The challenge is to apply 5G’s Quality of Service (QoS) model to the fixed line devices. “The 5G-RG should natively support 5G signalling protocols and capabilities and connect services and opportunities,” the Forum claimed.

Great idea on paper but is it realistic?

This is fine in theory, but it needs huge commitment from vendors and operators to support the initiative, said ISP Review.  

David Woolley, Broadband Forum’s OB-5WWC Project Leader, said he had already received “strong support from the service provider community”. Now he said, the Forum is calling for all interested parties across the industry, including customer premises equipment (CPE) manufacturers, end-to-end integrators and hardware and software vendors, to join the project and share ideas.

The goal is to give businesses and consumers seamless and cost effective 5G and fixed broadband connections from a single provider. However, ISP Review warned that many prefer to keep both services separate – “not least to avoid being tied down to a single operator”