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Broadband Forum Virtual Residential Gateway Specification Taps NFV

August 11, 2016 By Molly White in

The Broadband Forum recently announced the release of a new virtual residential gateway specification that the forum says will bring the benefits of network functions virtualization (NFV) to the home. Embedded in customer premises equipment (CPE), the Network Enhanced Residential Gateway (TR-317) will enable service providers to attach new services directly to an end-user’s home network gateway from centralized Cloud platforms.

That opens up opportunities to improve the quality of the end-user experience, roll out new services faster, reduce costs and enhance personalization of end-user packages, Broadband Forum highlights in a news release. TR-317 also enables service providers to enforce Quality of Service (QoS) down to the level of individual end-users, devices and/or services, something that’s becoming more important with the introduction of new, more demanding services, according to the industry association.

“This work is extremely significant because many broadband operators are already working on the delivery of some flavors of cloud-based virtual residential gateway services,” Orange Network Architect David Minodier was quoted as saying. Orange led development of TR-317.

“Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Network (SDN) techniques allow the delivery of such innovative services from a Point of Presence (PoP) or data center to be envisaged, which was not possible before,” Minodier added. ¨TR-317 provides CPE manufacturers with a first set of specifications to ensure interoperability between the bridged residential gateway at the customer premises and the virtual gateway hosted in the Service Provider’s cloud infrastructure.”

Orange and AT&T on July 21 announced they are collaborating to develop open source standards for NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) in order to simplify, streamline and enhance provision and delivery of residential network services that span everything from home entertainment to automation. 

Virtual Residential Gateway Specification

In an online video, Broadband Forum member Gregory Dalle explains that TR-317 leverages service providers’ Cloud platforms to offer new and enhanced home network capabilities. 

Dalle cites the ability of providers to offer new services to specific devices in the home, such as parental control over content accessible to children’s tablets. On the other hand, Dalle adds that TR-317 will enable parents to provide more bandwidth and improve quality of service for laptops used in home offices. 

¨Another category of service is augmenting the capacity of the home with virtual storage, or home automation,¨ he says. ¨There is unlimited service creation opportunity here.”

The end result is that end-to-end network architecture remains essentially the same while the business ecosystem changes significantly. That will enable telcos to offer more in the way of value-added ¨flagship¨ services, an important point given the ¨commoditization¨ of residential Cloud services, Broadband Forum points out.

Furthermore, TR-317 will enable telcos to keep pace with the growing number of connected consumer electronics devices on the market. “Enabling operator gateway services with the agility of cloud-based software and supporting some new use cases is the purpose of the Network Enhanced Residential Gateway architecture which TR-317 provides,” Broadband Forum CEO Robin Mersh said in a statement.

For example, TR-317 will enable service provision to be shifted from residential CPE to the network and charged for on a ¨pay as you grow¨ basis, according to Broadband Forum. Moving the machine-to-machine home automation from the premises to the network will also enhance the provision, delivery and updating of M2M services integral to expanding use of IoT technology in the home, the industry association adds.