TIM Brasil is a subsidiary of Italian operator Telecom Italia in Brasil and the third largest operator in the country. Despite its big mobile business, TIM Brasil is a small player in the fixed broadband sector of Brazil. By Q1 2020, it had around 600,000 fixed broadband users, holding a 1.8% share and ranking fifth in the Brazilian market. Because of its sluggish growth in mobile business, TIM Brasil expected to make a difference in the fixed-network segment. It planned to transform into an integrated service operator by launching mobile-fixed packages to attract users and gain market share.
Fierce Competition Calls for GPON Rollout
TIM Brasil started to plan and build fixed broadband networks in 2012. It worked with ZTE to carry out ultra broadband (UBB) projects and build very high-speed digital subscriber line (VDSL) networks in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states that provided users with up to 70 Mbps broadband services.
With the development of high-definition videos, online shopping and online games, user demand for high bandwidth and low latency was going mainstream. To meet the growing demand, Brazilian operators kept introducing higher-bandwidth, lower-price broadband packages. TIM Brasil urgently needed to upgrade its broadband networks to get ahead in the intense competition.
TIM Brasil hoped to expand its broadband footprint from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states to the other states. A Gigabit passive optical network (GPON) has many advantages such as high bandwidth, high efficiency, wide coverage, and low maintenance cost. There were less than one million FTTH users throughout Brazil in 2016. Against this background, building GPON on a large scale became a strategic choice for TIM Brasil.
Customized Solution Improves User Experience
At the beginning of 2017, TIM Brasil launched its GPON project under the TIM LIVE brand name. In mid-2017, TIM Brasil invited public tenders for medium-sized optical line terminals (OLTs) used in GPON construction, focusing on product maturity and network evolution capabilities. The tenders attracted the participation of the world's leading suppliers of fixed network equipment. After scoring top marks in TIM Brasil's technical and commercial evaluations, ZTE won the biggest share of the GPON project.
TIM Brasil required that OLTs have high reliability, support ring protection and L3 routing, and be capable of smooth evolution.
TITAN employs a distributed switching and forwarding mechanism based on router architecture. Its control and forwarding functions are independent of each other. The main control cards support active/standby redundancy at the control plane and load sharing at the forwarding plane. These characteristics make OLTs highly reliable.
TIM Brasil adopts the ring topology in its fixed networks. Previously, its VDSL networks employed multiple spanning tree protocol (MSTP)-enabled ring protection, with recovery from a disconnection usually taking two to ten seconds. TIM Brazil hopes to shorten the recovery time of the GPON networks to millisecond levels, which poses high requirements for link fault detection as well as active/standby switching and load sharing after the fault. Through its support for the Ethernet ring protection switching (ERPS) protocol defined in ITU-T G. 8032, TITAN limits the disconnection recovery time to within 50 milliseconds, making the network more secure, stable and reliable.
TIM Brasil requires that OLTs can flexibly adapt to multi-tenant scenarios, connect different services on demand, and enable the sharing of network resources with other operators. TITAN supports powerful L3 routing functions, including L3 virtual private network (VPN) and virtual extensible LAN (VXLAN). It can act as a remote module of the edge data center to be integrated into a network architecture that is centered on data centers (DC). TITAN supports perfect network slicing functions, allowing for slicing at three levels—user network interface (UNI), PON port or OLT.
TIM Brasil attaches great importance to OLT evolution capabilities and hopes that TITAN will support network deployments and upgrades in the next five to ten years. As a new-generation optical access platform, TITAN provides a super-large system capacity four times as high as that of the current industry level, and is significantly ahead of competitors in terms of switching capability, backplane bandwidth and slot bandwidth. Because TITAN is a unified platform supporting multiple technologies including GPON, 10G PON, TWDM-PON and 100G/25G PON, it enables TIM Brasil to choose access technologies as needed, flexibly make network development plans, and perform long-term smooth network evolution. TITAN supports standard northbound interfaces including NETCONF/YANG and OpenFlow, which can be connected with software-defined network (SDN) controllers in DC to implement smooth evolution from optical access network to SDN.
The OLT provided by ZTE for TIM Brazil is ZXA10 C650 based on TITAN—ZTE's new-generation optical access platform. With such advantages as advanced technology, mature L3 functions, high reliability and low latency, the OLT meets the needs of TIM Brasil for optical access construction and development plan.
Moving into a New Era of Fiber Optic
TIM Brasil started deploying GPON networks in 2019. After ZXA10 C650 OLTs went live, they have been operating stably, which ensures steady growth of TIM Brasil's fixed broadband business. By the beginning of 2020, TIM Brasil had deployed more than 160 ZXA10 C650 OLTs and rapidly increased the number of fixed broadband users from 480,000 to 600,000. Based on the GPON networks, TIM Brasil launched its TIM Live Ultrafibra brand, providing users with broadband packages at speeds ranging from 60 Mbps to 2 Gbps as well as many HD videos and live sports such as FOX and Esporte Interativo. These services are favored by more and more high-end home and enterprise users, propelling TIM Brasil into the fast lane of broadband development.