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Pia Habel

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Deutsche Telekom is moving ahead on Access 4.0

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  • Reply selected as co-development partner
  • First Access 4.0 sites to be deployed in 2020
  • Paradigm shift towards open, disaggregated and microservices based technologies
Filippo Rizzante, Reply, Robert Soukup, Deutsche Telekom, Ram Velaga, Broadcom and Hannes Gredler, RtBrick

Filippo Rizzante, Reply, Robert Soukup, Deutsche Telekom, Ram Velaga, Broadcom and Hannes Gredler, RtBrick.

Teaming up with Reply as its co-development partner, Deutsche Telekom is taking the next step towards bringing its new backhaul generation to life. Deutsche Telekom’s program Access 4.0 plans to deploy geographically distributed mini data centers at the network edge to produce broadband Internet and VPN access for their customers.  

Besides the co-development partnership, DT also announces that it teamed up with Broadcom and RtBrick to deliver the first fully featured BNG on merchant silicon. This BNG is a centerpiece of the A4 platform and hence marks a major milestone in the Access 4.0 program.

The program endeavored to refine the way networks are built and deployed: Traditional hardwired systems are replaced by open, disaggregated and microservices based technologies. Access 4.0 will leverage open source and also contribute to open source communities to make it available to others. Experts estimate that three out of four carriers can benefit from this technology. The open software will increase competition on the supplier side and save CAPEX. Further, it will reduce OPEX as anybody can optimize the network for ultra-lean, i.e. highly automated operations. 

Following a first successful prototype in 2018, Deutsche Telekom and Reply will jointly conclude the development of the A4 platform in carrier grade quality and scale by end 2020. in parallel to the final development touches, in 2020 the rollout of the new platform will slowly start with first pilot sites being deployed in the Deutsche Telekom network in Germany. 
Reply is not only tasked with co-development but also with conceiving and implementing a global productization strategy for the A4 platform. This will involve working closely with other carriers to understand their respective needs as well as a strong engagement in the open source community. 

Moreover, the way how network departments will work in the future will change significantly. Software and Information Technology (IT) are faster than traditional, chassis-based Network Technology (NT). While such classic network equipment required weeks, months, or even years to be deployed, Software and IT can be rolled-out almost instantly and globally. Robert Soukup, Senior Program Manager for Access 4.0 at Deutsche Telekom, expects this to continue to shake up the supplier market. “Imagine how fast product ideas can be turned into systems if you only need to deploy new software. We will combine agility with carrier grade quality at a massive scale. Of course, managing this transformation will be a major challenge. That’s why I am glad we selected Reply as a partner to also coach us on this journey.”

Filippo Rizzante, CTO of Reply, commented: "The telecommunications industry is currently undergoing fundamental change. Previously closed systems are being disaggregated, because the separation of hardware and software is the key to making the control, management and operation of networks more scalable, flexible and cost efficient. We are pleased to share this vision and to shape the transformation process together with Deutsche Telekom. We have seen from other industries that the combination of innovative microservices with agile and devops culture will lead to a shortened time-to-market through a faster roll-out of new services to customers.”

In the first place, Access 4.0 will focus on Deutsche Telekom’s broadband Internet access for FTTH/B. But the underlying A4 platform will be technically ready to power other applications like Edge Compute, AI, 5G backhaul and content caching or IoT. 

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