Sunday, April 22, 2007

MFA Forum Launches MPLS-based Mobile Backhaul Initiative

The MFA Forum is launching a major technical initiative targeting the role of IP/MPLS in backhaul transport networks that support mobile radio access networks (RAN).

The MFA Forum said its MPLS Mobile Backhaul Initiative (MMBI) will help service providers migrate from existing separate, legacy ATM and TDM backhaul networks to a more cost-effective, converged, MPLS-enabled, and multi-purpose network. The Initiative will directly impact mobile operators' bottom line by substantially reducing operation costs, and will enable operators to offer additional value-added services for their enterprise customers.

Traditional 2G mobile networks are TDM-based and designed to carry circuit-switched voice traffic. The 3G GSM/UMTS networks have evolved with ATM to support voice and data. Mobile broadband services (such as HSPA, EV-DO, WiMAX), aided by enhanced air interface technologies, have fueled demand for mobile data traffic and packet-based services. Limited capacity at existing cell sites is expensive to upgrade, and is becoming the gating factor in the support of evolving broadband services. The MPLS Mobile Backhaul Initiative leverages MPLS' ability to support all generations of wireless voice and data services over a single packet-based RAN. MMBI enables a smooth migration from one generation to the next, using pseudowire technology and supports dynamic sharing of RAN capacity. Using the same MPLS based backhaul networks, operators can offer additional services such as L3 VPNs.

The MPLS in Mobile Backhaul Initiative will also:

  • Address how performance and reliability attributes of the traditional backhaul network can be maintained while adopting MPLS-based backhaul.

  • Create a roadmap that begins with existing service offerings (2G, 2.5G, and 3G services) and which facilitate the future evolution to packet-based, Next Generation mobile networks such as LTE, UMB, and Mobile WiMAX.

"The MFA Forum is defining the reference architecture and different cases where MPLS can be leveraged to enable operators to efficiently packetize their existing 2G/3G backhaul networks," said Nikhil Shah of Juniper Networks and MFA Board Member and VP of International Development. "In recent years, the Forum has published implementation agreements to facilitate the migration of ATM and TDM to MPLS-based infrastructure and that expertise will be leveraged in the Mobile Backhaul Initiative. We are aiming to complement the cost benefits of Ethernet with the proven track record of MPLS for building converged, reliable and QoS-aware mobile grade infrastructure."
  • In October 2006, The MFA Forum announced the approval of five technical specifications, including two that address multi-service interworking. Additional specifications cover high-speed connections, ATM and Frame Relay-to-MPLS control plane interworking, and virtual trunks for ATM/MPLS control plane interworking.

    The Multi-Service Interworking – Ethernet over MPLS (MFA Forum 12.0.0) specification is aimed at the delivery of Ethernet services utilizing an MPLS core network. The term "multi-service interworking" means that Ethernet frames are transported across the MPLS core in a pseudo wire (PW), and that the two attachment circuits (ACs) associated with the PW employ different Layer 2 technologies (e.g. ATM on one AC and Ethernet on the other). The specification enables carriers and service providers to introduce new Ethernet services, while preserving existing infrastructure and ATM and Frame Relay service end-points.

    The Fault Management for Multi-Service Interworking over MPLS Version 1.0 (MFA Forum 13.0.0) specification allows service providers to detect and isolate faults, and propagate alarms so that action can be taken to minimize or avoid service outages, and thus meet customer service expectations. This continues to be important as traditional ATM and Frame Relay, as well as emerging Ethernet and IP services are migrated to MPLS networks.

    The High Speed Connections (MFA Forum 11.0.0) specification defines a maximum rate of approximately 1.8 Terabits per second for data transfer between storage servers, maximizing optical links when ATM is part of the network solution.

    The ATM and Frame Relay to MPLS Control Plane Interworking: Client-Server (MFA Forum 10.0.0) specification defines the control plane and protocol interworking procedures for ATM and Frame Relay connections across an IP/MPLS network using pseudo wires, simplifying migration from ATM to next-generation multi-service packet networks. The specification is designed to protect carrier investment in current services and revenue streams while enabling emerging IP applications and services.

    The Virtual Trunks for ATM/MPLS Control Plane Interworking (MFA Forum 9.0.0) specification is a distributed interworking approach to the ATM and MPLS control planes, enabling separation of the MPLS network routing domains and the ATM routing domains.

See also