centurylinkAs CenturyLink plots their FTTP broadband access future, the company has plans to use a virtualized 10G PON approach, said Frank Miller, CenturyLink vice president of access, in an interview with Telecompetitor. Rather than using a “monolithic” optical line terminal (OLT), CenturyLink 10G PON will be based on a software-defined OLT that can be deployed on generic hardware. Eventually the carrier anticipates virtualizing other network elements as well, Miller said.

The software-defined approach to 10G PON will provide operational benefits by enabling a higher level of automation, Miller noted. But “the primary focus is the customer experience,” he said.

It will be “that much easier to keep delivering value and features to our customers,” he added.

CenturyLink 10G PON
CenturyLink noted in a press release that it deployed a virtualized OLT from Adtran in a field trial. Miller noted, though, that the carrier anticipates using other vendors for its virtualized OLT needs as well. According to Adtran, this is the first U.S. deployment of a disaggregated software-defined access (SD-Access) solution.

The deployment included both XGS-PON  and NG-PON2  equipment, the company said. Initially CenturyLink 10G PON will target the business market but eventually will be available for residential users, Miller said.

He also noted that for situations in which CenturyLink is able to upgrade current-generation PON equipment that has already been deployed, the company will continue to use traditional OLTs. For new deployments, however, the company will use a software-defined OLT.

CenturyLink has been quite aggressive on the software-defined networking (SDN) and cloud front, but until now most of those efforts have focused on self-service and other customer-facing capabilities.

“The big key for us is we’ve had compute cloud expertise for a long time,” said Miller. “We’re leveraging that expertise for the network side of the house [and] a cultural transformation for the organization.”