Optical Networks Light Up Broadband Experience
I was fascinated to hear Jim Cramer of TV’s Mad Money say: “One word: Optical,” on a recent episode. Cramer was referring to the transport networks required to support high performance video. His observation acknowledges the reality known by telecom operators for some time now; consumers are using new devices that offer new services that fuel an exponential need for more bandwidth. Telecom operators need to transform their network to cope with these new demands in a cost effective way. The optical network is at the heart of supporting this transformation by providing high capacity connectivity along with the network flexibility and intelligence required to maximize network utilization.
Telecom operators are embracing the need for a scalable, versatile and dynamic networking solution that can adapt to the ever-changing needs of their users. That’s evident with customers like Turkcell Superonline, China Unicom and NORDUnet. They have all made the necessary changes that give them the capacity to support ultra-broadband, as well as the ability to reduce operational costs and increase revenue.
Network Capacity: A major challenge
Consumers are driving the demand for more bandwidth; they are increasingly using bandwidth hungry applications and services supported on a new era of connected devices such as smartphones, smart TVs and tablets. We are seeing telecom operators in a race to keep their networks up to speed with this consumer demand. Those that fall behind risk losing their high value clients. New services like IP Video are driving capacity growth in fixed networks, where we see traditional broadcast TV companies, satellite TV delivery companies and Pay TV companies all introducing IPTV services to complement their standard delivery mechanisms. In the mobile space we see LTE rollout rapidly driving up mobile data usage, and the backhaul network must support this rapid bandwidth uplift. In the enterprise space we see a move to cloud-based services driving a requirement for high-capacity, low latency, secure connectivity.
We see little slow-down in this growth with research suggesting that global IP traffic will increase threefold over the next three years and that mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold between 2012 and 2017. This growth is being driven by the widespread rollout of LTE, rapid expansion of cloud services and new higher capacity TV formats such as 3DTV and 4K UltraHD.
Investment in the transport network: More than moving light
Telecom operators are seeing the need for a new investment cycle in the transport network to support this huge uplift in capacity. We see them looking to deploy 100G connectivity across their network today, with the potential to seamlessly evolve this to 400G in the future.
We also see that telecom operators are looking for far more than just bigger pipes. They want a scalable, versatile and dynamic networking solution that can adapt to the ever-changing needs of their users, drive down the total cost of ownership and allow them to realize the full potential of their network investment. The network must provide flexibility to support driving down costs, the intelligence to easily add new services and the agility to scale bandwidth where and when it is needed. At Alcatel-Lucent we call this Agile Optical Networking (Figure 1).
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