Next Generation Communications Blog

IP Routing and Transport

Metro Transport Networks in Trouble?

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Spoiler alert: The added capacity of 100G-capable transport systems will not be enough to meet the coming demand within Metro Transport Networks.

First, there are numbers that have service providers worried. A recent Bell Labs study showed that metro traffic will grow by more than 560 percent by 2017, twice the growth of backbone network traffic. The biggest drivers will be video and cloud traffic. Bell Labs also predicts that while 57 percent of network traffic terminated in the metro back in 2012, by 2017 a full 75 percent of traffic will terminate within metro networks.



Advancing Utility IP Migration Takes Time and Care

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

This is the third in the three part series looking at how IP, which has been playing an important role in business transformation for some time, now has become critical to the utilities industry as it is leveraging the transformation of communications networks to IP to maximize smart grid deployments. In short, taking full advantage of things like smart metering and big data means to improve usage, real-time information and improved interoperability.

The future of the smart grid has unfolded slowly partially because adoption is more than a technology issue, and because while businesses want reliability, utilities demand it; a cautious IP migration is almost a given. In fact, part of the path to adoption goes through social challenges, not just technology investment.

IP Migration Picking Up Speed among Utilities

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

A few years ago, the idea of a smart grid and things such as smart metering was the stuff of science fiction. But thanks to recent innovations, a utility that is not working on a migration to IP is behind the curve.

In this second of a three-part series on the value of the migration utility infrastructure to IP as the means to enable and enhance the value of smart grids, we look at an expert’s view of the challenges as highlighted in a recent GridTalk posting by Bart Vrancken, utilities solutions architect at Alcatel-Lucent, who noted, “Utilities telecom used to be very simple, handled in the background with a very small team…The explosive growth in intelligent grid devices with communication capabilities was not foreseen at all several years back. But now we see numerous examples of customers deploying these technologies.”

IP/MPLS Enables Robust Public Safety Capabilities for Calgary

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

This is the third in a series of blogs that have taken a look at natural disaster communications and how public safety organizations around the world a leveraging next generation communications to better prepare and respond to emergencies.

In this final installment, the focus is on the Canadian city of Calgary which had catastrophic flooding in June. But it also got lucky.

That’s because just as the worst flooding in the history of the city was overflowing the riverbanks and flooding downtown, taking down infrastructure as it went, Calgary was testing its new, next-generation IP/MPLS-based network infrastructure.

As its infrastructure was endangered by the flooding, the city’s IT team was able to move over to this new system and start the migration of 50 remote locations in a matter of hours, preserving its essential communications needed to deal with the flooding and preserve business continuity.

Ultra-Fast Broadband the Path to End-to-End IP Telephony and PSTN Migration

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The TDM-based public switched telephone network (PSTN) still brings in revenue, but operators need to start thinking about PSTN transformation as vendors start to move away from TDM equipment support and existing revenue from the PSTN network dries up.

Adding fuel to the need for PSTN transformation is the increasing cost of maintaining the PSTN network.

The direction of the PSTN migration is clear.  Operators need to move to an IP-based network. This has been an inevitable and desirable trend for many years. In addition, it presents the opportunity for operators to converge their voice and data services onto a single network architecture that can drive revenue and cost reductions.

Scaling Microwave Networks Effectively Requires a Mix of Optimization Techniques

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The data storm kicked up by the rise in data use from smartphones and tablet computers necessitates a focus on scaling microwave capacity efficiently.

Microwave networks can be adjusted for spectral efficiency on a link-by-link basis, but this is not practical. What’s needed is a network-based approach such as that used in the Alcatel-Lucent 9500 Microwave Packet Radio that can avoid optimizations that are only valid on a small scale, and reduce the amount of spectrum used to help save rights-of-use costs.

According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine article, operators have two good microwave scaling methods at their disposal on the topic, hierarchical quadrature amplitude modulation (HQAM) and packet compression.

Cable MSOs Need a Flexible Network Edge

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It seems these days that no matter how much bandwidth and services multiple systems operators (MSOs) it is not enough. Subscribers want higher quality user experiences not just for their televisions but for the exploding number of other network connected devices they possess which are multiple media bandwidth hungry. 

Even if cable MSOs can meet current demands the pressure to go faster is intense, especially when the competition is only a click and a quick connection away.  This need for speed to the market and in the market is placing increasing strains on cable system architectures and creating a need to accelerate cable network IP transformation.

As Time Warner Cable senior director and chief network architect Michael S. Kelsen has written: “Cable operators are seeing their network capacity requirements double approximately every 24 months to keep up with customer demand and the launch of new services.”

One way to cope with increasing capacity demands is ensuring cable operators have a flexible network edge. A flexible network edge helps maintain growth but reduces costs at the edge of the network by supporting the evolution of residential, commercial and even mobile services.

A High-Performance Evolved Packet Core is Essential to Handle Mobile Data Demand

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The glass can be half empty or half full when it comes to mobile broadband.

On the one hand, data usage is growing at exponential rates, and seems to be no end in sight. In fact, it is projected that by 2017, the monthly mobile broadband usage of the average subscriber will reach 5 GB, according to research from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs.

On the other hand, the emergence of LTE enables operators to more cost-effectively monetize this traffic demand by rolling out quality-of-service (QoS) guarantees for sensitive data traffic such as voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), as well as other data service packages that until recently did not make sense.

Finding the glass half full from the emerging data storm requires some planning when rolling out LTE, however. Network optimization is not a given. While LTE flattens IP traffic and enables new business models it also introduces new problems. Chief among them is increased network signaling rates.

Oil & Gas: Dynamic Communications Enables Faster, Farther and Safer Operations

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The demand for oil and gas capabilities has never been greater and continues to grow. In fact, world energy needs are expected to increase by roughly 40 percent by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency, with the fast-developing China and India leading the way in energy consumption growth. The demand for oil is expected to grow by 20 percent, and gas needs should expand during this time by 50 percent. As much as dependency on fossil fuels is seen as needing to be reigned in, clearly oil and gas demand is going to go up despite greater reliance on alternatives. .

With that said, meeting energy needs is getting more complex. Hydrocarbon delivery is challenged by the fact that so much of the relatively low-hanging fruit has been plucked. The energy reserves of the future will increasingly come from deep-sea drilling, tar sands mining and other more challenging methods. Hydrocarbon delivery also will have to travel farther distances.

To effectuate cost-effective and efficient exploration and fuel deliveries in more challenging environments, it has become paramount that gas and oil communications be upgraded to next generation capabilities.

The Mobile Gateway Could Choke LTE Networks if Telcos Are Not Careful

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

LTE is the future of the network. That much is no longer in dispute in dispute.

Mobile network operators are embracing IP-based networks, and the numbers prove it. By the end of 2013, predicts the GSA, there will be 260 commercial LTE networks in 93 countries.

“Telecom operators like IP-based networks because they are interoperable and flexible,” noted Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent TechZine article, 3 Reasons for an IP-Optimized Mobile Gateway. “This makes them easy to modify as new IP-based functions, features, and applications become available.”

But getting there could have some bumps unless mobile network operators improve their mobile gateways, leveraging enhancements to their wireless packet cores. The mobile gateway needs to be IP-optimized if it is going to deal with the deluge of traffic that has begun and will only get worse as users get their hands on the fast speeds that come with LTE.

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