Optical Transport Networks Help Operators Meet Growing Traffic Requirements

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Optical Transport Networks Help Operators Meet Growing Traffic Requirements

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It has been called the “data storm;” due to increased online video usage, the cloud, and mobile devices, bandwidth demand is increasing relentlessly, and operators are straining to keep up.

Research from Bell Labs suggests that from 2013 to 2017, operators will see a 550 percent increase in bandwidth demand due to the shift to cloud and a 720 percent increase in bandwidth to support IP video across fixed and mobile networks. This will result in a 320 percent increase in the amount of traffic in the core network.

“Telecom operators are starting to realize that simply increasing the line rate is no longer sufficient to control the costs associated with increasing bandwidth demands,” noted David Stokes of Alcatel-Lucent in a recent TechZine article, Optical transport networks and bandwidth demand. In fact, we really are seeing exponential traffic growth as recent research from Bell Labs below shows expected traffic growth from 2013 to 2017.  


Source:  Alcatel-Lucent

As Stokes explains in a podcast on the subject, Optical transport networks (OTN) are increasingly being used to help meet this demand. OTN is a set of optical network elements connected by optical fiber links that provides transport, multiplexing, switching, management, supervision and survivability of optical channels carrying client signals.

A recent survey by Infonetics predicted that by 2016, 86 percent of respondents plan to use OTN switching in the core of their networks.

“OTN allows the photonic network to inherently support multiple protocols,” notes Stokes. “Transport rates have been defined to maximize network utilization for a photonic network carrying many different service types.”

The advantages of OTN for telecom operators are many, leading to an overall lower total cost of ownership for those that employ the technology.

Specifically, OTN enables better capacity utilization by eliminating stranded bandwidth and maximizing wavelength utilization. Through OTN, it is possible to add resiliency to legacy photonic networks where resiliency was previously not possible. Also, OTN can bring better service utilization and provisioning because OTN switching makes it easier for telecom providers to make service additions and changes.

“With optical transport networking, telecom operators can move to a single converged network capable of cost-effectively and efficiently transporting new and legacy services in a way that maximizes network utilization,” noted Stokes.

Given that demand is not expected to slow down any time soon, the converged network enabled by OTN cannot come quickly enough.

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