Fixed and mobile networks have been subjects to significant technological and architectural evolutions in the past years, with e.g. deployments of 4G mobile networks and FTTH fixed networks, as well as significant increase in traffic demand and access bandwidth both in fixed and mobile access networks. All these network evolutions lead to enormous investments in independent network infrastructures (billions of €). In terms of usage, the difference between fixed and mobile access tends to diminish with more and more video streaming and the willingness of users to use fixed (Wi-Fi) interface on their mobile device. All these elements strengthen the motivation of operators to integrate fixed and mobile networks and make them converge in the perspective of 5G networks.
Today, Fixed and Mobile Convergence (FMC) is mainly implemented at service level with all IP services and IMS, allowing a converged service control layer. Fixed and mobile networks themselves have been optimized and evolved independently from each other and the current network deployments are still reflecting this independent evolution. In contrast, COMBO will allow the convergence of fixed and mobile networks themselves.
To achieve this objective, COMBO will define, develop and technically assess network scenarios organized around the concept of Next Generation Point of Presence (NG-POP) and which embody the most promising directions for FMC at network level. These proposals will lead to networks with a more effective distribution of essential functions and improved utilisation of equipment and infrastructures. So as to show experimentally the high potential of FMC for future networks, COMBO will develop proof of concept demonstrations including both a unified access / aggregation network and a Universal Access Gateway (UAG), the key elements to implement NG-POP concept.
These proof of concept demonstrations will include the necessary hardware and software development required to show key FMC network functions and converged network.
The overall project targets of COMBO will be to: