Network Convergence (2018)

By Jennifer Andreoli-Fang, Ph.D. & Bernard McKibben, CableLabs; Alon Bernstein, Aeneas Dodd-Noble & Elias & Chavarria Reyes, Ph.D., Cisco; Curt Wong, Charter Communications

Many cable operators operate a combination of wireline (DOCSIS), Wi-Fi, and mobile (LTE, and soon to be 5G) access networks. Each access technology is supported by separate cores with overlapping capabilities. An operator that provides both mobile and wireline services will need to purchase and maintain separate core network elements to manage their corresponding access networks – 5G Core(5GC) for next generation radio access network (NG RAN), and cable core for DOCSIS access.

Converging these overlapping capabilities will provide savings for cable operators, while allowing the operators to offer new network services across uncoupled access networks.

Today, mobile and wireline core networks have some obvious disparities. They use

  • different credentials to authenticate and authorize devices
  • different data management
  • different accounting and billing systems in the back office
  • different policies to instantiate and manage data sessions

In spite of this, targeted convergence can reduce or bridge many of these differences without the need for massive replacements of customer CPEs. Appropriate updates of infrastructure features can enable the efficiencies realized through core convergence.

While the operators manage their multiple networks, the users should be network agnostic. With converged core networks, the user does not need to know which access network (e.g., fixed, Wi-Fi, cellular) s/he is on, but can expect seamless and consistent user experience.

Finding the sweet spot to converge the functionalities of the two different cores will benefit the operator’s capex and opex, while providing the end user with seamless and consistent service experience.

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