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Vodafone puts Facebook Voyager through its paces

Vodafone said it has finished successfully testing the open source Facebook Voyager transponder on a live network in Spain.

Vodafone has completed what it described as a successful trial of a Facebook-designed white box transponder, called Voyager. The announcement is the latest example of the carrier's effort to develop alternatives to proprietary technology.

The telecommunications company said this week the trial demonstrated the viability of running the optical transponder hardware through a software-based networking system. Vodafone tested Facebook Voyager and the related software on a live network in Spain.

The software used with Voyager included a network operating system developed by Cumulus Networks and network orchestration technology from Zeetta Networks. ADVA Optical Networking, a European telecommunications vendor, was one of the architects of the platform.

Open source technology is playing a more significant role in the networks and data centers of carriers that are trying to decrease their dependence on suppliers for innovation. For example, sales of open hardware from the Facebook-founded Open Compute Project are expected to grow 59% annually to $6 billion in 2021, according to research firm IHS Markit, based in London.

Facebook Voyager's accomplishments

The Vodafone trial showed the Facebook Voyager platform could achieve optical commissioning and optical real-time monitoring at 200 Gbps. Voyager also was able to deliver capacity of 800 Gbps per rack unit over an existing optical infrastructure.

"We wanted to show how Voyager's variable-rate transceivers can be used to match speeds and modulation formats with actual line conditions," Santiago Tenorio Sanz, head of network strategy and architecture at U.K.-based Vodafone, said in a blog post. "Thanks to a streamlined network operating system and SDN [software-defined networking] automation, we showed how our live network can set up optical services and keep them running, reduce unnecessary and lengthy customer service interruptions, and improve network utilization."

In 2016, Facebook's introduction of Voyager advanced the company's move into the telecom industry. The platform works with Open Packet DWDM, or dense wavelength division multiplexing, which is Facebook's combination of packet and DWDM technology to transmit over optical networks.

Facebook contributed Voyager to the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), an industry group dedicated to developing an open source telecom network architecture. Facebook also added its open source wireless access platform, OpenCellular, to TIP.

In January, the growing demand for better open source products led the Linux Foundation to streamline its networking projects by having them share financial resources and staff under a single governing body, called the LF Networking Fund.

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