Over the years, Broadband Network Gateways (BNGs) have had to evolve to support new functionalities. Management of multiple types of access, transmission of data encapsulations, and customers have challenged the effectiveness, speed and delivery of gateways. These are management systems that allow residential subscribers to connect to broadband services. 

Moreover, increasing video consumption, multimedia services, mobile applications, social media, VoIP, cloud computing, and an ever-growing array of bandwidth-hungry applications has driven an exponential rise in digital traffic.

A new project addresses some of these traffic management challenges.

Announced earlier this year at the Broadband Forum meeting in Warsaw, BNG disaggregation will facilitate scalability by creating more flexible architecture.

The project was initiated by Broadband Forum, the industry’s leading organization focused on accelerating broadband innovations, standards, and ecosystem development. The non-profit is composed of the industry’s top broadband operators, vendors and thought leaders.

BNG disaggregation and network architecture simplification

Today’s cable broadband can lead to underwhelming Wi-Fi. Customers complain about their wireless network speed not measuring up to the internet plan they’ve signed up for.

BNG disaggregation can address slowdowns resulting from increasing traffic. To address load spreading, operators must currently deploy and manage multiple BNGs across numerous locations closer to the network edge. This results in challenges in control plane and user plane scaling and geographically-related issues. BNG deployments can lead to fragmented IP pool management, under-utilized control plane and complex operation and management for software upgrades and service provision.

BNG disaggregation also simplifies network operation. It defines the architecture and requirements for a disaggregated BNG control plane and user plane, thus separating the control plane and data plane. By doing so the user plane can be added to increase the scalability (capacity and performance) while keeping the control plane in a special place. Benefits include centralized locations for configuration and IP address management, faster delivery of new services, and easier scaling of control and user plane according to customer demand.

“There are a number of areas where you can see direct benefit from disaggregated BNG,” Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh told Broadband World News. Mersh expects the project to augment developments in network functions virtualization (NFV), Cloud CO (Cloud Central Office, a hosting infrastructure) and other open-source projects. On a more practical level, the use of dark fiber, too, can aid with large bandwidth requirements, although implementation of these dormant fiber cables is usually relegated to large operations. “And then when you throw in the wireless-wireline convergence, there are all sorts of things happening and new ideas for new business practices that are driving this as well,” Mersh said.

Disaggregated BNG—a potential disruptor?

The connected home represents a huge opportunity for operators, service providers, as well as home integrators. Given the additional sophistication of 5G, gaming and video, ultra-high def video and other upcoming markets expected to be mainstream, the demand for better broadband can only grow.

Disaggregated BNG has the potential to disrupt the industry. Conventional BNG is packed into one box. As demands for services rise, operators must add more boxes, placing them closer and closer to the network edge. More boxes mean more to manage, and becomes increasingly expensive and complex to operate and maintain. By separating the control plane and the user plane, networks can meet customer needs without significantly increasing operational costs.

Currently, the Broadband Forum group is considering whether one of two protocols is right for disaggregated BNG. When implemented, the technology could mitigate the problems resulting from overloaded systems and increase our ability to deliver quality broadband to customers.