Telco Operator Strengthens Foundations for Triple-Play Services

To take advantage of the deregulated market in Poland, rapidly increasing traffic volumes and widening demand for services, Netia, the country's largest alternate carrier, was faced with a major challenge of upgrading its optical network. The solution entailed a radical shift in the core network design using the best technology available on the market. As a result Netia is now able to deliver revenue generating services including IPTV.

Business Challenge

Netia is the largest alternative telecommunications operator in Poland, providing a breadth of services throughout the country. The company's mission is to provide fully integrated fixed-line telecom services over state-of-the-art networks, and to reach the position of the preferred service provider both for business and individual customers. Netia aims to achieve this goal through the quality of its networks and services, customer satisfaction, and competitive tariffs.

To access 5000 km of optical backbone connecting all major cities in Poland, Netia employed a number of technologies including Metro Ethernet and dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM). The network provided voice and data services to Netia's 400,000+ public switched telephone network (PSTN) users, more than 184,000 broadband subscribers, and many business customers spread throughout the country. After some acquisitions and market deregulation in Poland, Netia was faced with several challenges based on increasing traffic levels in its core network:

  • Reliability of data services: Netia delivers Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPN services to many enterprises including companies in the banking sector. These customers have strict requirements for service-level agreement (SLA) guarantees, including network availability and traffic criteria. The capacity of the existing core was limiting the provider's ability to meet SLAs in terms of reliable delivery.
  • Build-out to handle increased traffic volumes: Recent acquisitions resulted in the migration of more traffic to the Netia IP core network, and anticipated increases in subscribers and services as a result of deregulation required further build-out to gain the needed capacity.
  • Enhanced data services to attract and keep more subscribers: To improve the attractiveness of data services, Netia wanted to give subscribers more flexibility and better response to service requests. This would also build a stronger, more scalable foundation for services in general.

"Our company reputation was on the line, and we needed a core upgrade to better deal with high volumes of traffic," says Roman Kowalski, IP Section Manager at Netia.

Netia network

Network Solution

Netia recognized that meeting these challenges required a radical shift in the core network design. The company committed to completely replace the existing network and rebuild a new core with the best technology available on the market. Although incremental upgrades might have provided a satisfactory solution for a short time, an overhaul would provide Netia with a greatly strengthened services foundation and a much longer network lifespan. After the project began, the requirements for future video services were also discussed, although not as a part of the initial business plan or justification for the build-out. Since Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and other video services (e.g., Cisco® TelePresence) would place further burdens on the core, the solution alternatives were also evaluated in terms of the ability to provide the capacity and multicast capabilities required for these services.

The Netia network solution was developed after a few months of discussions and a series of design workshops on various modern technologies including IPv6, multicast, and Layer 2 VPNs (L2VPNs). During this time, Cisco experts and consultants shared best practices and guidelines with the Netia team. Netia created a list of stringent requirements and issued a Request For Proposal (RFP) to all major networking vendors. A first round of evaluation was completed to narrow the field. Subsequent rounds of extensive laboratory make-or-break testing were carried out, and these ultimately led Netia to choose a carrier-grade solution based on Cisco 12000 Series Routers with the Cisco IOS XR system. The Cisco solution met the requested business and technology objectives, including:

  • Carrier-class solution, with extremely high availability due to features such as hardware redundancy, elimination of single points of failure, in-service software upgrades (ISSU), non-stop forwarding, and the self-healing, self-defending, modular Cisco IOS XR software.
  • Availability of high-speed interfaces running at line rate with all features enabled (10 GE).
  • Comprehensive service-enablement features (Quality of Service, MPLS VPNs, multicast, IPv6) that provide investment protection by supporting both current and future services.
  • Scalability for accommodating increasing broadband traffic and providing customer interfaces on a countrywide scale. Netia gains a cost-effective solution for its scalability requirements, since 2.5 G shared port adapters (SPAs) can be initially deployed, with the option to use 10 G adapters in the future as traffic warrants and in proportion to revenue growth.
  • Built-in security with unicast Reverse Path Forwarding (uRPF) to block distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Flexible platform for core applications today and edge applications in the future, allowing cost-effective deployments. The customizable platform meets a range of requirements in terms of size and mixture of high- and low-speed ports on the same platform and line cards. Netia can strictly maintain SLA parameters for new services by appropriately configuring the routers.

Business Results

With the new network core fully operational, Netia noticed two immediate benefits:

  • Increased network capacity: The provider can now expand its broadband business and add more subscribers, and can also provide commercial bit-stream access services on a countrywide scale.
  • Enhanced network reliability: Peering points for IP transit were upgraded to achieve maximum reliability and allow high-quality service delivery.

The new capacity and reliability put Netia in an excellent position in terms of customer retention, and have allowed the company to grow its subscriber base without negatively affecting the quality of the overall user experiences on the network.

Although video services did not drive the network core rebuild, the new design gives Netia a superior platform for IPTV and other revenue-generating services because of the strengths of the Cisco solution, which included:

  • Ability to provide TV-quality video services over a common IP core
  • Service-intelligent fabric built for massive video traffic (multicast) replication and forwarding
  • Better quality in-fabric replication

"We were one of the first to implement the Cisco XR 12000 Series, and we faced the challenge of having to deploy the new core platforms without affecting subscribers and services on our production network," says Kowalski. "With the Cisco technology and the support of the Cisco team, our core upgrade has gone very smoothly. Today, our business is expanding even more aggressively than originally projected. Last year we were thinking in terms of tens of thousands of subscribers; now we are thinking about hundreds of thousands."

Next Steps

The new Cisco 12000 Series Routers also provide the capacity and performance capabilities for future IPTV and video services. Multicast support will enable the efficient delivery and conserve network bandwidth for the otherwise bandwidth-hungry services. The new core design will also allow Netia to easily scale capacity as needed by replacing older equipment and extending the network core. The future expansion can be gradual, and paced in proportion to increases in the subscriber base and revenue-generating service portfolio.

Technical Implementation

Cisco XR12000 routers were implemented in the Netia core network and at major peering points. The routers are connected with 10 GE links, running either over DWDM or directly over fiber. The new routers were integrated with the existing network infrastructure including equipment from Cisco and other vendors. The crucial requirements during the implementation included the avoidance of any impact on existing services and maintaining strict customer SLA parameters.

During the implementation phase, existing core nodes and peering points were replaced one by one with Cisco XR 12000 Series Routers. Live product traffic was gradually moved over to new 10 Gbits/s links connecting the new routers. To help ensure a smooth deployment and avoid disruption of subscriber activities, the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) and the XR Deployment Team provided support during all phases of the implementation. This also allowed Netia to meet the expected implementation schedule on-time.

The ISSU feature of the Cisco 12000 Series allowed Netia to add functionality as required, with in-service installable XR software modules. Over the first few months, all traffic was migrated to the new backbone. The project was coordinated and led by NCR, a Cisco Gold Partner. NCR provided technical services and know-how for deploying the network, training Netia's operations staff, and moving the maintenance functions over to the customer. 

About Cisco

Cisco was founded in 1984 by a small group of computer scientists from Stanford University. Since the company's inception, Cisco engineers have been leaders in the development of Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking technologies. Today, with more than 65,225 employees worldwide, this tradition of innovation continues with industry-leading products and solutions in the company's core development areas of routing and switching.

More info:


Sign-up to our weekly newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.
Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.