Home North AmericaNorth America 2008 Transforming and simplifying today’s network infrastructure

Transforming and simplifying today’s network infrastructure

by david.nunes
Susan_SpradleyIssue:North America 2008
Article no.:9
Topic:Transforming and simplifying today’s network infrastructure
Author:Sue Spradley
Organisation:Nokia Siemens Networks, North America
PDF size:192KB

About author

Sue Spradley is the President of Nokia Siemens Networks, North America. She has more than 20 years of experience in services, operations, sales, customer service and global product line management in the telecommunications industry. Ms Spradley is the former President of Nortel Global Services and Operations, and was most recently responsible for technical engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management. Her prior roles at Nortel included President of Global Product Line Management and North America Sales. Ms Spradley joined Nortel in 1997 as Vice President, Customer Service and Operations. Prior to joining Nortel, Ms Spradley was Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for Siemens Communications. Sue Spradley holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Kansas and graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Business School.

Article abstract

The phenomenal growth of broadband demand – and that expected tomorrow – is forcing network operators to re-think their network, operational and operating strategies. By 2015, broadband demand will increase 100-fold. Conventional networks and network architectures cannot support this growth. Legacy fixed and wireless networks have to converge into IP-based wireless and fibre-based core and access networks within a Service Delivery Framework (SDF) to provide the needed broadband connectivity regardless of access technology and deliver new applications quickly and inexpensively.

Full Article

We live in an information-hungry global economy that’s more connected than ever before. But in truth, we’re on the precipice of achieving a level of connectivity we never imagined. It’s projected that by 2015, five billion people, or 70 per cent of the world’s population, will have mobile and/or fixed broadband access. As this next two billion come online in this very compressed timeframe, we’ll see a range of needs develop simultaneously from mobile voice connection in emerging markets, to enabling high definition television in mature markets where HDTV is a ‘must-have’ feature. As an industry, the business and technology choices we make today will shape the future and determine if we will have the level of broadband infrastructure to support the explosive demand and traffic growth expected over the next seven years. So how can we transform and simplify our networks to economically meet the demand for broadband around the world? Explosive traffic growth Conventional networks will not be able to sustain the rapid rise in data traffic that is anticipated over the next few years. Mobile networks will quickly reach full capacity and require significant investment to maintain the pace of growth. This is the challenge we face today as our evolution cycles speed up and become shorter in duration. The technology choices, standardization processes, and regulatory activities that have shaped the current communications environment have contributed to a state of complexity that is made more difficult by a challenging economic landscape characterized by intense competitive pressures and the need to reduce costs. Add in ever-present consumer expectations for superior quality of service, and it is easy to see that our industry has many conflicting challenges. The majority of networks were built at a time when the current and future level of demand for Internet and high-speed broadband applications seemed unimaginable. Built independently over time from separate legacy networks based on intrinsically different architectures and technologies, for instance TDM and IP, we created complex networks with independent systems to manage and maintain. Many of us are familiar with fixed and mobile networks operating in separate domains, not to mention the fact that broadband initially was not available via mobile or cable networks. As a result, today’s communications networks operate independently, each with their own access networks, transport, service control, charging and application layers. Mobility evolution, transformation and 4G Then there’s mobility. Remember when you had dial up for Internet at home? How different is it now that you have broadband? What do you do with your PC now versus then? Legacy mobility networks were built back when giving people regular telephone service on the go was the primary objective and data was limited to the minimal bandwidth available in early technologies. That was, of course, before the boom in the early 1980s and the introduction of Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) cellular service. Second Generation (2G) cellular kick-started ideas about services that went beyond voice, and data services became increasingly attractive as their importance to driving toward an inherently digital architecture became evident. Third Generation (3G) services have been an educational transition for the wireless industry. Moving from kilobytes in 2G into megabits per second download delivery, 3G has enabled operators to offer a wider range of advanced data services, while achieving greater network capacity through improved spectral efficiency. Services including voice telephony, video calls and Internet access, all in a mobile environment, have whet the appetites of users who rely on the Internet for everything – information, directions, email, news and networking – and want the same Internet experience they have at home while they’re on the go. Along the way, we have learned that if you build it, users won’t necessarily come, so mobile services have to be compelling and easy to use. While 3G services continue to evolve, consumer and business demand for greater bandwidth has spawned Web 2.0 – the next, interactive generation of Internet access. Broadband services are finding traction with early technology adopters and youth-oriented consumer groups who now think of wireless as an enabler for computing, video phones and television services. The digital home market potential for operators and service providers globally is in excess of US$800 billion. 4G is on the horizon and the fixed Internet experience has become quite robust. End-user expectations of the 4G experience will undoubtedly far surpass those of previous technology generations. The next generation users of broadband are going to expect their service to always be on, no matter where they are or what device they are using, and they will accept nothing less than a mobile experience that mirrors or is better than their Internet experience at home or in the office, including video and social networking. Today, user data on a mobile network is managed on a separate database from a fixed network, and investments made in one network cannot be leveraged across all of a carrier’s networks. As technology and services have evolved, the diversity of network systems needed to deliver end user services has increased, creating more complexity. Managing multiple networks will prove to be unsustainable if broadband usage maintains its current level of growth. And, despite the growth in network traffic, revenues are not growing, especially as we see more operators introduce flat-fee, bundled subscriptions, so the cost of delivery must be reduced, while still maintaining the quality of experience for the delivery of voice, data and video services. Transforming for the future It’s time to tame the legacy multiple networks we have created and get ready to feed the world the broadband it hungers. Complex network infrastructures must undergo a transformation to a converged, simplified architecture that embraces IP and Internet technologies and can accommodate the unprecedented increase in broadband traffic. This transformation will allow network operators to be more operationally efficient as they address burgeoning market demands. Undergoing a transformation and simplifying the network is a necessary step as the industry evolves to more robust technologies. The advantage of converged, simplified network architecture is streamlining an operator’s ability to: first, provide the best broadband connectivity to the end user, regardless of access technology; and, second, deliver new applications quickly with minimal investments. A first step is examining access networks. Faster broadband access, whether fixed broadband, wireless broadband, or cellular broadband, can be delivered at lower operating costs by flattening the network and using fewer control elements. While wireless broadband networks can undergo an immediate transformation with today’s technologies, in fixed broadband access we can look forward to next-generation DSL and optical access that will extend performance and lower the cost per megabit delivered. The next layer of a simplified network is transport and aggregation where cost efficiency and scalability are crucial to meet profitability demands as broadband traffic grows. The goal should be to evolve to a network with all optical transport and aggregation, and one in which there is a single, global transport network that will integrate and absorb the multiple transport networks that exist today. Tomorrow’s transport networks should be able to manage not only current data traffic, but all forms of future data traffic from services that we may not be able to imagine today. The network’s overall purpose is to deliver services that will generate the increase in data traffic and drive new revenue growth. With the influence of the Internet, traditional communications providers will need to act as Internet service providers when they consider their services strategy. While bundled services may still exist, the Web 2.0 mindset and culture will drive more user generated content that will challenge operators to examine their flexibility and speed of delivery when adopting and deploying a new service. The open environment of the Internet will be a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ and will accelerate a move away from ‘walled garden’ service platforms. Networks have to be able to sufficiently support the delivery of both bundled and independent services and can do so with a Service Delivery Framework (SDF). The SDF would enable a network to support any service over any access technology, on any device with a consistent user experience. By employing service-oriented elements like IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) and common identity management and session control, the SDF would cost effectively support the distribution of new services that should be secure and simple for subscribers to use. A final major element for the converged, simplified network of the future is a streamlined Operation and Business Support Solution (OBS or OSS/BSS) for billing, care, network operations and more that provide efficient management of multi-vendor and multi-technology networks, service platforms and business processes. The speed at which broadband traffic is growing and the fact that the Internet is driving fundamental changes in the way we communicate and inform and entertain ourselves is just the beginning of a dynamic transformation of the communications industry. This phenomenon is what will translate into a 100-fold increase in broadband traffic over the next seven years, and the mobile segment will grow at an even higher rate. Aiding this unprecedented growth are the emergence of new business models born of the Internet, powerful devices that support multiple access technologies, and the introduction by major operators of flat-fee, all-you-can-eat subscriptions. Future success lies in the technology and business choices we make today in the areas we can control, and among those areas is the network. In order to reduce operating costs and be prepared for the massive traffic and accelerating broadband demands we most assuredly can expect, we must transform and simplify to deliver broadband with no boundaries. And, let’s begin today.

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