Flexing Fiber Investments

It is time to converge those networks, invest in the transport layer, and step into tomorrow.

Taking a new approach

The traditional approach to these requirements has been to build separate, specialist transport networks for each of these service types. However, this is no longer a sustainable approach, as it is both expensive to install and maintain and inefficient to operate. As an approach, it fails to support potential new services rapidly and also fails to make use of the available transport capacity effectively.

Of course, telecommunications infrastructure—at both the access level and the transport layer—is built to last, and no one would want it to be otherwise. Inevitably, networks will always be a mix of legacy and modern equipment. The challenge facing operators is to onboard and seamlessly deliver this wealth of new end-user service innovation across this mixed environment. With all the investment at an access level, the route to delivering that success lies in the unheralded transport layer—the unsung hero of telecoms innovation—and in its ability to converge and manage multiple services across one modernized network.

Using new but established transport technologies such as SDN (Software Defined Networking), NFV (Network Functions Virtualization), segment routing and network slicing, operators and service providers can offer a flexible, multiservice transport platform able to support all these different service types and applications. SDN, in conjunction with NFV, provides the flexibility and agility to offer the right mix of capacity and functionality to support service innovation. Segment routing provides the deterministic transport required for business and mission-critical services; and network slicing allows vastly different services to be transported on the same transport infrastructure while providing the required isolation between those services.

At the same time, modernizing the transport layer to deliver converged access aggregation enables a wealth of legacy and innovative access networks and service types to converge on one transport layer. This allows operators and service providers to build a single transport network that can support both the needs of today and those of the future. What’s more, delivering services in this way also gives operators the power to elegantly retire legacy components and services at a manageable pace.

Transport networks will lead the way

The important lesson here is that, despite the obsession with ever-faster access speeds, it will be the advances in packet and optical transport technology that will open the way for the service modernization to drive real societal change. These bigger, faster access pipes will generate vast and complex streams of data that only a fully modernized, packet optical network can handle truly efficiently and economically. 

Converged access aggregation takes all these multiple services and disciplines and delivers them to a modern packet optical transport network able to absorb this influx of data—from multiple sources—and then assess it, prioritize it, and seamlessly deliver it to meet the SLA (service level agreement) requirements of each individual element. And it does all this both economically and efficiently. 

A modern packet and optical network operating converged access aggregation is therefore the best way not only to extract the remaining value from legacy systems prior to their retirement but also to simultaneously unleash the full potential of next-generation access technology.

Of course, it will always be the innovations in consumer and business equipment—those devices you can hold in your hand or install in your office—coupled with the ever-more-powerful and superfast connections that will catch the eye and capture attention. However, it will be the innovation that the customers do not see, the innovation delivered by investment in the transport network, that will finally pave the way to the services of the future. 

Without this investment, the future will remain out of reach, with visions unrealized and potential unfulfilled. More importantly, customer expectations will not be met and the return on investment in access networks delayed. It is time to converge those networks, invest in the transport layer, and step into tomorrow.


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