|Issue:||North America 2008|
|Topic:||Engineering today’s network for tomorrow’s convergence|
|Title:||Chief Technology Officer (CTO)|
Pieter Poll is the CTO at Qwest, responsible for the strategic technological direction of the company, the evolution of the network and technologies utilized, network planning and engineering. Dr Poll served previously as Vice President – Corporate Strategy for Mahi Networks. Prior to Mahi, Dr Poll held a variety of leadership positions at Qwest, including :Vice President – Worldwide Technology Management, Vice President – Worldwide Emerging Technologies, and General Manager – Network Architecture and Strategy. Before that time, he worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories developing architectural and evolutionary plans for digital switches and long-distance networks. Dr Poll currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) and the Centre for Telecom Management at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He participates on the Advisory Board for the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Programme at the University of Colorado – Boulder and the Metro Denver Wired Initiative. Dr Poll graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physics at Cornell University.
Telecommunications is morphing into something entirely new, driven by customer expectations of seamless solutions for their business and personal lives. With tomorrow’s networks, everything and everyone will be connected at all times to a worldwide matrix that delivers rich multimedia content communications and applications. Businesses will demand storage and traffic management capabilities and network size and sophistication will grow exponentially. By 2015, networks in the USA will handle one zettabyte (1021) of traffic annually – 50 times more than in 2006.
Industry experts predict that the next generation of telecommunications networks will change the world in new and exciting ways. I believe that future is here and it is now. The torch has been passed – the question is, how will the future be shaped? The telecommunications industry, as we have come to know it, is morphing into something entirely new, driven by customer expectations. Advances in telecommunications over the past 15 years have only increased the consumer’s appetite for more. More speed, more connectivity, more applications, and more control. Users in today’s world expect service on their terms, not on their carriers’. The connection to an always-on network is no longer the customer’s expectation; it is a consumer demand. Like me, today’s users want seamless solutions that not only help them to do their jobs, but also give them the freedom and flexibility to live their lives. One of the benefits of living and working in Colorado is that I get to indulge my passion for fly fishing. While I welcome the peace and solitude that are inherent to the sport, the reality of my job is that I can rarely afford to be out-of-pocket or off-line for very long. Like more and more Americans, when I’m on the river, I can stay connected to the office using a single hand-held device. At the same time, I can also offer friends and family an interactive glimpse into my leisure activities from the relative seclusion of my fishing destinations by taking photos to share online. I look forward to the day when I can integrate those pictures into multimedia applications that I can access, manipulate and send from any consumer device – my handheld, my computer or my TV. Some of that is possible today, but we know and are excited by the prospect of how service convergence will drive a simplified user experience across all devices. What is coming next is the intelligent home, the intelligent building and the intelligent city. We will always be connected, everywhere, all the time. These next generation networks will require a new kind of engineering to deliver this fully integrated experience. Paradoxically, we have to prepare for things we cannot imagine, and prepare it for future customers who may not even be driving a car yet. We are planning now for this next generation of customer expectations. In the future, their location, provider, architecture or devices will no longer limit people. All devices will connect to one matrix and the instruments will no longer dictate the content. The matrix is the connected world and it will be open for business 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week. The connected world matrix is two-way, and people will become part of the network. This evolution will redefine what it means to serve the customer. Consumers, the business community, higher education, government and our global economy, are driving demand. More importantly, demand is being driven by the sheer power of people’s imagination. Users have become sophisticated consumers with a zero-tolerance policy for network downtime or a lack of available services. Obviously, this next generation of networks will need to interact seamlessly and elegantly. It used to be that the home and office were full of separate, freestanding, technologies and providers. But interconnectedness is here – the fridge is talking to the power grid and soon it will be able to order groceries when it senses our milk has expired or we need eggs, and, unfortunately, will be able to enforce those diets our doctors recommend. Time, convenience and ease will continue to be the primary drivers of this next generation. The explosion of technology and data traversing the Internet is creating new architectures that respond to the rise of rich video and interactive media traffic. YouTube, high-definition imaging and online gaming, cloud computing and virtual worlds, as well as demands for hosting and storage, mean the next generation of networks needs to easily handle the flow of these applications consumers want and enjoy. On the enterprise side, the demand for storage and traffic management capabilities in core, edge, metro and access networks will only increase – and increase exponentially. We will need infrastructure to accommodate that growth and the new applications we cannot yet imagine. I cannot tell you what the next great application will be, but it is coming and it will be quickly followed by the next and the next. Carriers that cannot meet the demands of these new applications will not survive. Networks will now follow the people; people will not follow their networks. No longer will customer preferences or content be tied to devices. This new intelligent experience will mean massive bandwidth consumption; people will demand video to the Web and Web to video, and as the walls break down, a new medium will emerge. One day, I will be able to deliver my streaming multimedia fly-fishing experience to my family. For carriers like Qwest, it means staying several steps ahead by anticipating consumer needs and finding new ways to exceed their expectations. There are 2.7 billion mobile phones in use worldwide today. The number will grow to four billion in 2011, when at least one third of all broadband applications will be wireless. Even today, most of the world experiences the Internet not through a computer, but through a mobile phone. Consider that by 2015, in the United States alone, the Discovery Institute projects that IP traffic may reach an annual total of one zettabyte – 1021, one sextillion, or one million, million, billion bytes. For one carrier to imagine it could monopolize this market is unrealistic, but by partnering, carriers will be nimble and powerful enough to accommodate user demand and the universe of new killer applications. If we project Internet growth at current rates, then the Net of 2015 will be 50 times larger than the Net was in 2006. To keep pace, the United States will need to invest in excess of US$100 billion. Clearly, governments have a part to play, not least in ensuring that no segment of society is left behind as this revolution proceeds. In the United States, the federal Universal Service Fund should be restructured so that it can be used to help deliver broadband to the underserved, rural people and communities. We are engineering the next generation of networks to accommodate this paradigm shift and provide for the anytime, anywhere, any-device experience. The specific technology that will enable this is still a matter of great debate and anticipation. Many technologies are showing enormous promise for delivering on the demands of the future. Which one will reign supreme – WiMAX, Optical Mesh Networking, or some other emerging technology? We just do not yet know what the technology will be, but we do know that the user will shape the network like never before. The torch has been passed and the world will never be the same.