What is interoperability all about?

By Nikolaj Sobolev, Customer Solution Manager

(4-minute read / 650 words)

As an operator, can you imagine a situation when OLTs and ONTs purchased from various vendors simply refuse to work together? Such a situation is not uncommon whenever there is a switch-over to another equipment vendor, or when adding another vendor to support the dual-vendor strategy, for instance.




Here at Slovenia’s Kontron, we take interoperability issues off the table. We fully support you in any way you would like to play it – be it expanding your network, or just complying with a new regulation. So, in which cases can we help you? Let us take a look:

  • Operator pursuing a dual-vendor strategy;
  • Complex infrastructure deregulation taking place;
  • Macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, such as embargoes and national security concerns;
  • Various locations each with specific demands.

All of the situations above increase demand for network-equipment interoperability.




What is the process of ensuring interoperability?

Full interoperability is ensured by rigorous testing of equipment, followed by a thorough analysis of results, which either confirms equipment interoperability or not. If interoperability is not possible by default, software adjustments are made and software patches issued; these will then enable the components and products of various vendors to operate in the same set-up.


The solution for FTTH interoperability




Remember these two words: OMCI and TR-069

The way OLTs and ONTs communicate is determined by two protocols, the OMCI and TR-069.

  • OMCI (ONU Management Control Interface) is a mechanism used by OLTs (Optical Line Terminals) to configure, manage and monitor the ONTs (Optical Network Terminals).
  • TR-069 (Technical Report 069) is a technical specification of the Broadband Forum that defines an application-layer protocol for remote management and provisioning of customer-premises equipment (CPE) connected to an IP network.

Special tools for ONT configuration and monitoring are typically used, namely an ACS (Auto-Configuration System) based on TR-069. These include Wi-Fi settings, firewall settings, voice, remote access, etc.

And while the TR-069 is a standardised protocol which all vendors of Layer-3 ONTs must adhere to, the OMCI protocol allows for a certain flexibility in the way OLTs and ONTs communicate, and may differentiate from vendor to vendor. This can result in equipment unable to work well together, or not at all.


The difference of the dual-box setup

In the dual-box setup, a termination box (Layer-2 bridge device) is complemented by a feature-rich stand-alone home gateway. In such setup, the provisioning is handled by the OLT via OMCI protocol to the termination box and is controlled by the network provider.




Fear not. We’ve got this

The broadband team of Slovenia’s Kontron team has the necessary knowledge and expertise to make OLTs and ONTs work on the same network with virtually anything. We prove it with countless successful deployments in different environments in which we had to mix-and-match our equipment with equipment of other vendors per operator’s deployment plans. At present, Iskratel Lumia OLTs and Iskratel Innbox ONTs are interoperable with equipment from other major vendors.


And what if–

If a minor hiccup happens, we are able to identify the interoperability issue and resolve it quickly. The software stack allows us the flexibility needed to adjust management and configuration. Below is an example of the standard process to achieve a seamless integration.

Step 1: Keep the existing 3rd-party OLT and ONTs.




Step 2: Add Iskratel Innbox ONTs to 3rd-party OLT.

  • 3rd-party OLT only establishes a Layer-2 connection;
  • ACS configures the triple play services;
  • ACS is connected with the NBI (Northbound Interface) to the existing OSS/BSS (Operations Support System / Business Support System).



Step 3: Deploy Iskratel Lumia OLT in the network.

  • The OLT is managed by Iskratel MNS or via NBI using the so-called REST API/SOAP protocol to the existing OSS/BSS;
  • Iskratel Lumia OLT establishes a Layer-2 connection to the 3rd-party and Iskratel Innbox ONTs;
  • ACS configures the triple play services;
  • ACS is connected with NBI on existing OSS/BSS.




Iskratel Lumia OLTs and Iskratel Innbox ONTs are fully interoperable with the majority of other vendors; and in case if we come across an exception, we know how to handle the situation quickly and effectively, and ensure flawless interoperability.


About the Author


Webinar photo Nikolaj

Nikolaj Sobolev
Customer Solution Manager


After having joined S&T Iskratel (now Kontron) as a product manager in 2020, Nikolaj has been leading the development of Kontron’s premium line of next-generation fibre access, with Iskratel Lumia C16 and Iskratel Lumia T14 standout examples.

In 2023, Nikolaj shifted to business development to pursue a more active promotion of Iskratel Lumia next-gen access products, and further increase brand recognition among customers.

He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, and a very versatile person seeking continuous personal development. Among his many and varied interests, Nikolaj is a passionate (and former professional) ice hockey player.