Global service providers are no longer tied to a single type of access network – DOCSIS, DSL, Ethernet, or EPON/GPON. Decades of consolidation resulted in a patchwork of last mile access, which necessitated adaptability – in the plant and in CPE (Customer Premises Equipment.) CPE built upon the Reference Design Kit (RDK) began with access networks linked via DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification), and is evolving to be able to connect over a wide and growing fabric of access network types, from DSL (Digital Subscriber Line), typically used in telco plant, to Passive Optical Networks (PONs) used in enterprise environments.
As multiple access networks become the norm, a need arose for a common and unified software environment, so as to simplify network operations and optimize feature utilization, regardless of underlying network specifics. An advanced suite of WiFi security features, for instance, should be able to be added into a service suite, simultaneously and seamlessly across DOCSIS, DSL, and PON topologies.
That common and unified software environment is the RDK (Reference Design Kit) broadband profile, designated in this paper as “RDK-B.” With a common and extensible broadband software stack, operators can design their product roadmaps beyond the “speed wars,” historically relevant but arguably moot now, with the expansion of Gigabit grade connections. Featur development can focus on how to bring additional value to devices connected to the access network (again, regardless of last mile type), to differentiate the customer experience.
This paper overviews access network types and related abstraction layers within the RDK/Broadband stack to support them.