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Will 2017 be the year of the autonomous network?

Karl Horne, Chief Technology Officer Asia Pacific, Ciena | Dec. 16, 2016
Karl Horne, CTO Asia Pacific, Ciena, shares some of his predictions for networking trends we may see in 2017, including self-driving networks and more

The second opportunity concerns growing user demand for an enhanced digital experience, where mobile, cloud, and content/media service platforms - underpinned by Carrier Cloud Infrastructure - combine to offer great access, service and content together. Telstra and NTT are good examples of operators taking advantage of this movement, already offering connectivity bundles for cloud providers.

These shifts will not be easy for network providers, but with a large customer base as well as established customer service and marketing infrastructures, they will be well placed to put connectivity at the heart of compelling service offerings - and to profit from it. In fact, they already have one foot forward given the considerable barriers to market entry facing any non-telcos wanting to pursue such service offerings; building a robust network is not a quick and easy undertaking after all.

5G architectures begin to take shape

The creation of an enhanced digital experience that I just mentioned - from the perspective of both B2B and B2C audiences - is only going to become more significant, which is why there's already a lot of excitement about the impending move toward 5G mobile networks.

At this early stage, there are varying visions of 5G mobile networks and their anticipated performance gains, which might see an increase of up to 1,000 times of bandwidth per unit area, and a perceived network availability of 99.999 percent, with a 90 percent reduction in network energy use. These visions will further evolve in 2017, when we will undoubtedly see more attention on the fixed line network, leveraging Carrier Cloud ecosystems, as a means of realizing the 5G promise. At the most fundamental level, this will include creating agile networks that are virtualised to promote network slicing and, along with growing virtualisation, the distribution of the evolved packet core.

Submarine cable capacity explodes

The Asia-Pacific region's bandwidth was recently given a significant boost with the completion of NTT's Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) submarine cable , which boasts a theoretical capacity of 54 terabits per second (Tbps). NTT, of course, is leading a consortium of nine countries' telcos and the 10,400 km cable promises to transform internet connectivity in some countries, not least Vietnam. And with South Korea preparing to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the APG is vital. The increase in bandwidth will be critical in facilitating the delivery of live, ultra-high definition video coverage of the Games.

Notably, Facebook is one of the backers of the APG. This is even more interesting when one considers the APG does not connect directly with the USA. Is this an indication of the importance of the Asian market to Facebook? It would be hard to characterise it as anything else, although the company has disclosed neither its intentions nor the sum invested.


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