Flexible, seamless broadband experiences are on their way

The Broadband Forum’s WT-474 Subscriber Session Steering proejct is well underway the Forum has announced. The aim is flexible on-demand connectivity that detects traffic changes and automatically scales to preserve the user experience. The ability to treat each subscriber individually allows operators to use different network paths for those with different needs.

The Forum says this will allow operators to better utilize network assets, save energy, and ensure their networks run more efficiently.

How Subscriber Session Steering works

Subscriber Session Steering can dynamically move a subscriber’s service to a different Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) user plane (the function carrying the network user traffic) in real-time if it is not meeting the quality expectations of the service or customer.

For example, a service provider can change the user plane location to decrease latency.

Jonathan Newton, Vodafone engineer and Co-Director of Access and Transport Architecture, Broadband Forum

“Typically, traditional fixed broadband networks have relatively static configurations in the access network, with subscribers mapped to specific gateways,” says Vodafone’s Jonathan Newton, who is Co-Director of the Access and Transport Architecture at Broadband Forum. “Subscriber Session Steering breaks through restrictions on a service provider’s ability to offer innovative edge services, ensuring that the network is loaded evenly.”

Until operators can steer sessions, virtual BNG (vBNG) deployments will remain statically tied to specific servers and this limits the ability to scale effectively to meet demand.

With session steering functionality, load balancing can be enabled across vBNG user plane instances and operators can manage software in a cloud native model, seamlessly rolling out software in a controlled way.

How can this capability be used?

Customer will have lower latency (when needed), improved availability and reduced maintenance, which will reinforce their perception of a premium network experience.

The ability to maintain QoS is critical for QoS-sensitive services such as gaming. But beyond this, service providers can use the SDN-enabled capabilities to offer tailored packages for remote workers, telehealth and smart home services.

Service providers will be able to offer a greater range of service levels with the added knowledge of the precise network costs associated with each.

Ken Ko, MD Broadband Forum

“WT-474 is enabling increasing differentiation by dynamically steering subscribers to an optimized user plane function,” says Ken Ko, Managing Director at Broadband Forum. “An operator can now change the user plane location of an existing subscriber session in order to address a particular application’s service level agreement (SLA) requirements.”