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Huawei Evolves SMRT’s Communications System and Network

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Huawei Evolves SMRT’s Communications System and Network

2017/4/22 0:00:00

Background

Singapore’s mass transit system is the second oldest metro system in Southeast Asia and one of the most advanced and comprehensive public transport systems in the world. It currently consists of 178 kilometers of rail lines, 90 stations, and 8 interchange stations in operation, serving half of the country’s population.

SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is the leading public transport operator in Singapore. SMRT offers millions of passengers an extensive Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and light rail system which connects seamlessly with its island-wide bus and taxi operations. The company started operating Singapore’s first urban rail line, the North South Line, in 1987. Now, SMRT operates all of the country’s urban rail lines except for the North East Line.

Challenges

SMRT’s existing backbone communications network was constructed in 2003. With obsolete equipment, complex network design, complicated maintenance procedures, and difficulties in rolling out unified communication services such as video surveillance and Passenger Information System (PIS), communications networks could no longer ensure smooth operations of the mass transit system, and created difficulties in developing new services. To address such issues, SMRT urgently needed to use cutting-edge technologies to reinvent its backbone communications network to achieve stable performance and simplify maintenance.

SMRT faced challenges such as reconstructing and upgrading its existing infrastructures, communications systems, more than 60 of its sites, and a large number of traditional services on the live network that had long been established in order to meet the future needs towards packet services.

  • The live network mainly provided voice and data services, all of which were small-granularity TDM services that require small bandwidths. However, development of IP-based interfaces and services brought with them an ever-increasing number of large-granularity data and video services requiring larger bandwidths. The new communications network needed to adopt advanced technologies to accommodate newly emerging services and, at the same time, support future-oriented smooth evolution.
  • Existing optical fibers of the communications network were deployed years ago with a limited number of cores. Most of fibers had been taken up by other service systems, leaving fewer resources for the Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) network. SMRT required that legacy optical fibers be optimized after network reconstruction.
  • Existing sites and equipment rooms could not easily be expanded. Given the small size of the equipment rooms at many sites, new devices had to be deployed within the free space of existing cabinets provided by previous vendors. Therefore, SMRT was looking for a vendor whose large-capacity devices could fit within limited spaces.
  • Implementing the new communications network was challenging because the live network needed to keep running during work hours to ensure normal operations of the mass transit system. Cutover could only be conducted at midnight without interrupting reliable transmission of service systems. A precise step-by-step plan was needed to accomplish the heavy workload within the limited time available and guarantee a smooth migration of SMRT’s live service systems.

Solution

After careful deliberation, SMRT chose Huawei’s Urban Rail Operational Communication Solution. Huawei supplied Hybrid Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol (MSTP) products with industry leading capabilities such as forwarding compatibility, future-oriented evolution, and network migration. 

  • Smooth evolution of communications network enabled by soft and hard pipes

Huawei’s mature Hybrid MSTP solution provides soft and hard pipes. On one hand, traditional SDH hard pipes are applied to carry existing Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) services such as wired/wireless dispatching, surveillance data, and automated office services. Hard pipes provide physically isolated 2 Mbit/s VC-4 channels to transmit mission-critical services that require high security, high reliability, and low latency. On the other hand, elastic soft pipes are used to support future access to a large quantity of packet services, such as video surveillance and PIS. Soft pipes offer sufficiently large bandwidths to handle sudden surges of IP-based packet services.

Compared with traditional Ethernet Over SDH (EOS) technology, packet pipes provide the advantage of bandwidth statistical multiplexing that not only improves transmission efficiency, but also saves over 30 percent of bandwidth resources. The application of soft and hard pipes allows for a traditional SDH network to smoothly evolve into a future-oriented Multiprotocol Label Switching – Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) network, which will not be outdated within the next 15 years.

  • Smooth evolution of services enabled by built-in PCM

There are many low-speed, narrow-bandwidth services on SMRT’s live network, which were first converged into a 2Mbit/s service by independent PCM devices and then forwarded to transmission devices. Huawei’s transmission devices provide built-in PCM boards, so that a single transmission device allows for unified access to PCM, PDH, SDH, and IP services. By eliminating the need for independent PCM devices, Huawei helped SMRT reduce investment in equipment, save space in equipment rooms, decrease the number of network nodes, simplify management, and enable live network services to enter an all-IP era.

  • Smooth bandwidth expansion enabled by 40 Gbit/s capacity of a single optical fiber

To ensure that the network was able to satisfy the increasing need for service systems for larger bandwidths within a 15-year period, Huawei offered a progressive ultra-large-bandwidth solution in which a single optical fiber supports up to 40 Gbit/s capacity. The solution adopts Photonic Integrated Device (PID) technology to integrate multiple Optical Transponder Units (OTU), Optical De-multiplexing Units (ODU), Optical Multiplexer Units (OMU), Optical Amplifier Units (OAU), and Dispersion Compensation Module (DCM) boards into a single set of PID boards. The solution also uses 40G line boards that support any combination of STM-64 and 10 GE services. The flexibility allows the customer to transmit a variety of services in different scenarios without the need to change the lines boards, meeting current service requirements and keeping pace with the future development of services in the most cost-effective manner.

  • Many features to address live network problems

To address the problems of limited space and optical fiber resources, Huawei developed a single-fiber bi-directional scheme and deployed integrated OSN580 products that are large in terms of capacity but small in size. In this way, a set of equipment providing 40 Gbit/s bandwidth only occupies a 5U space.

  • Unified network management system oversees multi-domain network devices

To adapt to the trend of convergence and the shift from a vertical to a flattened network architecture, Huawei provided a next-generation U2000 Network Management System (NMS) that uniformly manages multi-domain devices on the Network Element (NE) layer as well as network layer. NMS allows SMRT to assure unified management of its Hybrid-MSTP network, PCM power supply system, Building Integrated Timing Supply (BITS) system, and routers. Highly scalable and an easy-to-use NMS helps minimize Operation and Maintenance (O&M) costs while maximizing the network’s value.

  • Huawei proprietary tools facilitate service migration

As SMRT’s live network carries mission-critical data, service cutover could not affect normal operations of the mass transit system. Considering actual installation environments and the large number of services on the live network, Huawei used its self-developed MGS2600 tool to facilitate network service cutover. The tool automatically extracts the configuration data of the existing third-party network and converts it into new configuration data that can be recognized by the new network. This delivers safer and quicker migration between services from the old to the new network. In addition, the Huawei-proprietary Trial Cutover Automated Tool (TCAT) software was used for complete configuration and verification in batch mode as well as enable one-click cutover of a large number of services at a specified or scheduled time. These automated tools, coupled with Huawei’s customized cutover schemes and precise planning of cutover procedures, guarantee quick and smooth migration of live network services.

  • High quality management ensures trouble-free migration

Given the risks and difficulties existing in network implementation, SMRT regarded the project as highly challenging. Huawei set up a dedicated project team to develop a number of implementation models such as backup power supply, temporary power supply, network cutover, one-by-one NE cutover, and one-by-one service cutover. Designed for diverse scenarios such as power supply cutover, backbone network cutover, and withdrawal of live network devices, implementation models ensured trouble-free migration.

Benefits

As a public transport company, SMRT has an excellent track record. The company recognized Huawei’s capabilities in delivering sustainable services and established long-term cooperation with Huawei to continue improving its mass transit system.

After completion of reconstruction, the communications network of SMRT’s mass transit system will be Singapore’s first dual-plane (TDM and MPLS-TP) communications network that supports smooth evolution towards all MPLS-TP. Since Singapore has decided to apply for MPLS-TP all-packet switched technology for its future urban rail communications networks, this project serves as a benchmark and will pave the way for reconstructing more communications networks across the nation.

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