ETSI releases first specification on 5th Generation Fixed Network (F5G) architecture

Sophia Antipolis, 12 May 2022

ETSI's 5th Generation Fixed Network group (ISG F5G) has released its first specification for F5G Network Architecture ETSI GS F5G 004. This architecture will deliver a variety of services to residential and business customers over a single physical network with guaranteed SLAs (service level agreements).

The new ETSI specification defines the F5G end-to-end network architecture and the related requirements for the network nodes, including Customer Premise Network (CPN), Access Network and Aggregation Network. The F5G architecture takes SDN/NFV into account for the network's control layer and Autonomous Network principles for the network's management layer. It explores new network features such as a seamless connection between Optical Transport Network and Access Network, E2E full-stack slicing and AI embedded features, among others.

The F5G network offers three main features for extending and enhancing fixed networks - eFBB (enhanced Fixed Broadband), FFC (Full Fibre Connection) and GRE (Guaranteed Reliable Experience). To implement them, the F5G architecture has introduced new design principles:

  • Separation of data plane into Underlay Plane and Service Plane,
  • Dual network fabrics for the Aggregation Network, comprising an IP/Ethernet and an OTN fabric,
  • Seamless and combined usage of PON and OTN supported by E2E slicing and Traffic Steering.

The F5G architecture balances performance and operational efficiency through a high degree of flexibility and choice. Network services can be supported by an IP/Ethernet or by an OTN fabric depending on the network characteristics and the performance requirements, and allow independent changes to the Underlay or Service Planes to match the needs of applications, services and users. Using EVPN as the unified Service Plane technology simplifies the protocols and management required. This Service Plane is easily programmable to adapt to market needs, and it supports different cloud-oriented Information and Communication Technology (ICT) architectures.

This specification represents a foundation in F5G work, as it forms the basis for future upgrades. Fibre and fibre-based optical networks are the key technical enablers of our society's twin transitions (green and digital), providing sustainable and cost-effective communications with high bandwidth, stability, reliability and improved latency. Based on the innovative design with dual plane and E2E full-stack slicing across all the network segments, reachability is greatly improved,” explained Luca Pesando, Chair of ETSI ISG F5G.

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