AT&T shows off Ufi Space white box cell site gateway router based on OCP specifications

AT&T used last week’s Open Networking Summit (ONS) in San Jose to demonstrate the capabilities of a white-box cell site gateway router manufactured by Ufi Space. The disaggregated router is based on specifications the Tier 1 service provider submitted to the Open Compute Project (OCP) last fall and used the network operator’s internally developed Vyatta network operating system.

Apr 8th, 2019
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AT&T used last week’s Open Networking Summit (ONS) in San Jose to demonstrate the capabilities of a white-box cell site gateway router manufactured by Ufi Space. The disaggregated router is based on specifications the Tier 1 service provider submitted to the Open Compute Project (OCP) last fall and used the network operator’s internally developed Vyatta network operating system (see "AT&T submits white box cell site gateway router specs to Open Compute Project").

The router supports a range of speeds on the client side. The options include 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps needed for legacy baseband unit systems and next-generation 5G baseband unit systems operating at 10/25 Gbps and with backhaul speeds up to 100 Gbps. It leverages the Broadcom Qumran-AX switching chip with deep buffers to support advanced features and quality of service as well as a baseboard management controller (BMC) for platform health status monitoring and recovery, a CPU for the network operating software, and timing circuitry. The router is designed to operate at -40C to +65C. Taiwan-based Ufi Space describes itself as a "services enabler and a system integrator."

“The Ufi Space design has been future-proofed to include critical features needed to support our 5G RAN deployments,” said Janet Peng, director of White Box Development at AT&T Labs. “It has 100G uplinks to support high-bandwidth transport needs, sophisticated IEEE 1588-compliant timing features, a powerful processor to support control and management plane features, and diagnostics and network management features designed to meet our rigorous reliability requirements. This powerful hardware design is complemented by our internally developed Vyatta network operating system software that provides a rich portfolio of networking features.

AT&T says it conducted a First Field Application (FFA) of a white-box cell site gateway router in December 2018 in its production network carrying live customer traffic. The success of the trial will lead to expanded deployments this summer. The service provider says it expects to deploy more than 60,000 of the white box cell site gateway routers eventually.

The router design is one of several white-box hardware and open software models AT&T has contributed to OCP (see, for example, “AT&T finishes open source XGS-PON field trials”). It’s part of an overall strategy to use open systems and software throughout its network (see “AT&T field trials open source white box switches” and “AT&T: Operators should take more responsibility for their network technology”).

Meanwhile, the Telecom Infra Project also has developed specifications for an open white-box disaggregated cell site gateway (see “Telecom Infra Project targets disaggregated cell site gateways”).

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