The Role of FMA in the Path to 10G

For the majority of operators, the road to 10G is a multi-year, multi-stage journey. But as we look ahead at the next phase of distributed access architectures (DAA), the decision of where to locate the MAC and how to integrate this chosen architecture with other network components and stages of evolution is complicated by a current lack of standardization. CommScope’s Dan Torbet blogs about the importance of Flexible MAC Architecture and benefits to the network.

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For the majority of operators, the road to 10G is a multi-year, multi-stage journey. But as we look ahead at the next phase of distributed access architectures (DAA), the decision of where to locate the MAC and how to integrate this chosen architecture with other network components and stages of evolution is complicated by a current lack of standardization—that’s where FMA comes in.

FMA—or Flexible MAC Architecture—aims to standardize the way that MAC architectures are implemented throughout the network, regardless of where the MAC resides. The goal is to harmonize the management and control planes across these architectures and to facilitate multi-vendor interoperability as operators begin to invest in their next-generation networks. In turn, this will facilitate the growth and adoption of new network configurations and components. With FMA, operators will be able to select the best solutions from a multi-vendor environment as well as provision, monitor, and manage them, simply and reliably. In other words, FMA is an important next step forward in enabling operators to scale out their DAA networks by taking advantage of virtualizing the management and control planes.

CableLabs® is spearheading the industry-wide effort to build the FMA specification. The development consists of seven committees of vendors and operators working on everything from new provisioning and streaming telemetry models to security and the impacts of disaggregation to MSO back-office systems. CommScope is proud to be a key contributor to FMA as a vendor chair. We’ve made notable contributions to the FMA specifications since the very beginning—including the general architecture, disaggregation of the management and forwarding planes of the traditional I-CCAP, lawful intercept. Today, five of our experts are co-chairing FMA committees, six are authoring new developments in these specifications, and three are contributing their expertise across multiple working groups.

Our aim with this process is not only to ensure technical excellence in the standards that will be used to manage the delivery of broadband to millions of people around the world but also to afford operators a variety of choices to suit their evolving networks. Our global customers have networks in all stages of development, and our goal is to help those who want to get started with FMA leverage their existing strengths and network investments to chart a unique path to 10G.

Among the key advantages with FMA is the ability to build a best-of-breed DAA network using components from multiple vendors to supplement existing equipment. It offers flexibility in investing in a system of network solutions with constantly moving parts. If you’d like to discuss a customized plan for implementing FMA in your network, please contact our sales team.