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In AT&T’s latest effort to virtualize the last mile of connectivity between its fiber network and customers’ homes or businesses, the operator released open-source software it calls the “brain” for XGS-PON access technology.

In a blog post, Eddy Barker, assistant vice president of technical design and architecture at AT&T Labs, says the software, dubbed VOLTHA 1.0 (virtual optical line termination hardware abstraction), helps AT&T’s push to put the framework behind the XGS-PON access network in the cloud, and move toward open source-software and SDN/NFV frameworks.

In June, the operator announced plans to conduct 10 Gbps XGS-PON field tests in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta areas later this year. 

XGS-PON is a fixed wavelength symmetrical 10 Gbps passive optic network technology that can reportedly coexist with current GPON technology and provide four times the existing downstream bandwidth.

As bandwidth needs increase for applications like virtual reality and augmented reality, XGS-PON can help networks handle the extra burden, Barker notes.

VOLTHA was developed closely with the Open Networking Foundation and the vendor community, and AT&T says the next release will set the stage for combining all services on a single network including 5G wireless infrastructure.

“Open software efforts benefit the industry because we rely on the active participation and feedback from a large community of developers,” Barker writes. “Developers can improve, add, and influence changes to the software that will help us deliver XGS-PON technology to customers quickly.”

A software release like VOLTHA is key to keeping AT&T on its virtualization track, according to Barker. The operator expects to virtualize 55 percent of its networks by the end of this year, with a goal of 75 percent of traffic on a software-defined network by 2020.

AT&T isn’t the only player trialing XGS-PON technology. In April, Nokia successfully completed an XGS-PON field test with Finnish operator Elisa.

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