|Issue:||North America 2011|
|Topic:||The Keys to the network of the future|
|Organisation:||Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)|
Grant Seiffert is the President of the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the leading advocate in Washington, D.C., for the information and communications technology (ICT) industry; he oversees its policy, standards, educational, networking and marketing efforts. TIA’s member companies represent the entire supply chain of the ICT industry. Mr Seiffert joined the TIA as Director of Government Relations, representing the equipment industry’s interests. Mr Seiffert later became Vice President and directed domestic and global policy and interacted with the U.S. Congress, the FCC and the Administration, as well as with international regulatory bodies and government leaders. Prior to joining TIA, Mr Seiffert served five years with Senator John McCain. Grant Seiffert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Radford University.
Today, demand for mobile broadband is rising exponentially. The growth is driven by smartphones and data traffic and both smartphone sales and data traffic are growing at astounding rates. Some analysts expect that by 2014, mobile video will account for 90 per cent of network traffic. In addition, machine-to-machine traffic is also starting to rise rapidly. The rapid build-out of network infrastructure is vital to meeting the demands of the future; this infrastructure must be secure, reliable, scalable and sustainable.
The keys to the network of the future by Grant Seiffert, President, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) The future of the network is now – it’s a cliché, but true. The future of the network is its role in redefining global business models, opening markets, empowering innovation and moving to the core of business models not traditionally dependent on ICT. To realize the full potential of the network of the future, there are important issues we, the ICT industry, need to address – but first, a reality check. It’s no secret that extreme demands on the network are exceeding current capacity and demand is only going to continue to rise exponentially. Let me share a few predictions from the just-released Wireless Market chapter of the TIA 2011 ICT Market Review & Forecast: • The smartphone share of wireless handset unit sales increased from 21.8 per cent in 2008 to 37.5 per cent in 2010. By 2013, the majority of handset unit sales will be smartphones, and smartphone share of unit sales will reach 54.9 per cent by 2014. • The data market is expected to overtake the voice market by 2014, rising at an 18.6 per cent compound annual rate to US$107 billion. Data will account for 51 per cent of overall wireless services spending in 2014. The growth of the data segment is being driven by the explosion in the number of smartphones, whose owners generate more than ten times the data traffic of standard mobile phone owners. We consider these to be fairly conservative estimates, though our research tells us that these trends are intensifying. We’ve seen predictions from other analysts that by 2014, mobile video will account for 90 per cent of the network traffic. There’s more to come: there will soon be more than five billion electronic devices connected to the Internet, according to IMS Research. In addition, the number of computers and laptops connected to the Internet is now outnumbered by the number of smartphones and other devices that are hooked-up, and this is expected to skyrocket with machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. With the roll-out of IPv6, enough addresses will be available to connect every imaginable device to the Internet. As the number of intelligent devices grows, and M2M connectivity proliferates in vertical industries from healthcare to transportation, the physical infrastructure needs to accommodate these applications and appliances. Fortunately, the scope of the needed massive build-out of the communications networks is not lost on Washington. For the first time in decades, the support for communications technology is front and centre in the presidential agenda. As President Obama said in a recent speech, “When it comes to high-speed Internet, the lights are still off in one-third of our households. If we build it they will come, but we’ve got to build it.” President Obama and his tech support team have pledged their commitment to reallocating spectrum to enable wireless broadband. Also, the FCC has begun the process to transition the Universal Service Fund (USF) to broadband, to ensure that all Americans can enjoy the benefits of broadband-enabled technology. While this action is deeply appreciated, Washington is a city bound by process, so don’t expect USF dollars to begin flowing for a few years. Growth of the network today is the key to meeting the demand of the future, keeping in mind that the network must be secure, reliable, scalable and sustainable, and that innovation is at the core for everything in the ICT industry. At TIA we’ve identified several key areas of focus for the future success of the network: Converged networks – new services and applications Here we’re tracking growth of virtual private network (VPN) architectures, 3DTV business, bundling, and over-the-top (OTT) service with traditional carrier services, opportunities in telepresence markets, service provider opportunities in education, healthcare and government verticals and developer tools, design applications and digital media add-ons. The key driver in network convergence is the accelerating move from last-generation technologies like TDM for voice and ATM for data to a more consolidated network running on an IP, Ethernet and an optical foundation. The result is better flexibility and lower cost for today’s networks. Convergence is also helping networks to be much more application and service-focused – letting carriers deliver Web and cloud services online and facilitating the delivery of IP mobile apps and services over today’s 3G and 4G networks. Converged networks – technologies As service providers strive to leverage their network assets to deliver a broad array of business, residential and mobile services, the optimization of their transport infrastructure stands to play a key role in ensuring profitability and a superior user experience. The challenge for service providers is to establish a scalable backbone infrastructure. Closer integration of IP and optical transport networks offers significant opportunities for reducing transport costs and increasing network efficiency. A converged network backbone leverages optics and IP together to deliver the lowest cost per bit for reliable transport across the backbone for existing and emerging services. Meanwhile, network decision-makers are faced with choices on an array of access technologies that have long-term implications for their networks. Mobile backhaul, data and video networks The volume of data produced by smartphone usage is straining current backhaul and transport network capacity. Legacy T1 circuits cannot scale to meet the demands of multimedia apps. New architectures and applications are driving business opportunities giving broadband network operators, wireline carriers, infrastructure partners and new entrants’ opportunities to participate in the business of providing affordable, reliable, bandwidth for mobile network operators. The Utility network The communications needs of electric utilities are evolving as smart grid, advanced meter infrastructure and advanced technologies are deployed. As a two-way digital communications network, the network connecting smart meters is expected to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy and reduce cost. The energy network itself will control demand and response. Grid automation and a wide variety of smart grid applications – including such applications as the integration of electric vehicle recharging and the use of renewable energy sources to power the grid will become increasingly common. A fundamental aspect of a smart grid is its communications network layer – an industry-wide, interconnected IP communications network – which allows the fast and integrated deployment of smart grid applications. For the country’s largest utilities, the telecom planning and operations effort is intense, complicated and currently consists of multiple, applications-specific sub-networks. The smart grid presents a unique opportunity for telecommunications operators to become established players in the electricity value chain, although the structure of the smart grid market is far more complex than that of telecom operators’ traditional markets. Careful preparation and understanding of the market dynamics, technology considerations and expectations of the energy services market – by both utilities and telecom operations – are critical. Security management Security management has always been an important component of network operations. In today’s cyber world, a nation’s vital communications and utilities infrastructure can be brought down in minutes by hostile attacks, so the need for critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and advanced cyber security is at an all-time high. Industry collaboration is essential in developing standards-based frameworks (information, process, application and integration) to address the security needs of the network. M2M and connected devices As the number of intelligent devices grows (to 430 million in 2013 from 73 million in 2008), and machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity proliferates in industries from healthcare to transportation, the physical infrastructure needs to accommodate these applications and appliances. Development of technical standards is the key to ensure that each device can connect to the network and communicate. ICT industry vision Finally, ICT industry leaders must adapt to the changing business models of network operators, to the network and technology demands of a billion more devices; they must help define the era of applications from the manufacturers’ perspective. The business of broadband communications is changing rapidly; it’s a new world of services for network operators and their technology partners. We need to change our notion of the network. Customers don’t have to choose services from their carrier. Today, services come from anywhere on the Internet or the cloud and they can be delivered by anyone who can serve a need. There are new challenges at every turn, but given the ICT industry’s history of innovation, the challenges are opportunities to be conquered, and future of the network is in the best hands possible.