Letter from the Editor - October 2015

By: Tim Young

“Evolution never looks to the future.”
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

For years, we’ve referred to wireless evolution and the evolution of the network, but I don’t know that I’ve ever referred to the words of an actual evolutionary biologist. Dawkins is mostly known to broad audiences for his role as an atheist firebrand, but his influence on the field of biology has been substantial. He points out that evolution, unlike human design, is a response to present conditions rather than an anticipation of future conditions.

Humans understand that sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward. You have to temporarily make things worse in order to make them better in the long run. A four-lane highway may need to be limited to two lanes during construction so that, a few months later, it will have six or eight lanes. A car may go several model years without any major changes, getting surpassed by its competitors along the way, then surge ahead with a new model that puts it back at the top of the heap. It is understood that, in order for progress to take place, some things may have to be weaker in the short term for the sake of their long-term progress.

So how does our wireless network evolve? Well, they certainly develop with the future in mind, and are certainly a product of human design. But unlike a product, a wireless network isn’t released in iterations, with a previous model keeping the dollars rolling in while a replacement is in the works. And unlike the highway example, wireless subscribers have choices that, as far as the end-user is concerned, follow nearly the exact same route. So who would opt for the temporarily gridlocked road?

So wireless networks do develop intelligently, anticipating future demand, but they otherwise act a lot like living things. Like the great white shark, networks must always keep moving. Otherwise, they’d drown.

It’s a tricky business, preparing for the future while never having the option of complete downtime. In this issue of Pipeline, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of the evolving wireless network. We’ll examine some wireless evolution trends, hear from Vodafone on the state of M2M, discuss the role of SDN in network infrastructure, and bring word from Comptel about the network of 2020. We’ll also talk about quality of experience for both human subscribers and the Internet of Things, discuss how the connected home changes our expectations of the wireless network, and explore the state of modern fault management.

Thanks for reading.


Tim Young


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