Programmable Networks Are the Future

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Will 5G Result in an Explosion in the Number of IoT Devices?
  2. How Can Programmable Networks Help?
  3. Network slicing will play a crucial role in 5G networks.

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

Will 5G Result in an Explosion in the Number of IoT Devices?

We are in the midst of a veritable explosion – of devices, digital services, ultra-HD videos, monstrous volumes of data and everything in between. Emerging tech and 5G promises a boom in mobile network bandwidth and an explosion in the number of IoT devices. Nokia Bell Labs predicts that the number of devices is expected to balloon from 1.6 billion in 2014 to more than 20 billion devices by 2020. Legacy networks are not equipped to deal with this onslaught. This could be why more and more service providers today are seeking ways to deal with the ever-increasing connectivity demands by adopting network function virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to take advantage of the flexibility they offer.

How Can Programmable Networks Help?

Beyond just flexibility, one of the major reasons to consider is that the DNA of network infrastructure of 5G and IoT vary significantly. Network slicing will play a crucial role in 5G networks. 5G NFV will slice the network into multiple virtual networks to support various 5G use cases. In the same way, IoT connects objects over the Internet and the SDN provides orchestration for network management by separating the control plane and the data plane. SDN provides flexibility and programmability without altering the existing network architecture in anyway.

In short, programmable networks will offer service providers the speed and agility required to manage this tough terrain called Emerging Tech. It allows for separation of the hardware and software levels of the network, leveraging the power of SDN to manage network traffic. Furthermore, the use of open APIs as defined by the open communities will bring a level of vendor-neutrality, which is a pre-requisite for any kind of automation. A level of disaggregation will also open up opportunities for new players to enter the industry quickly, even those who are unfamiliar with the complexities of networking. Making the most of software-defined networking and network function virtualisation technologies, programmability can be extended to FTTx, Radio Access Networks and Optical and Transport Networks. At STL, we refer to this as PODS (Programmable Open Disaggregated Solutions).

Here’s how PODS will help service providers:

  • Programmable access & edge: Extending programmability to FTTX will elevate the service provider’s business model and reduce time to market for new digital services, which will in turn usher in edge computing by disaggregating broadband networks and re-architecting central offices.
  • Programmable Radio: Radio Access Networks (RAN) accounts approximately 60-70 percent of the total cost of ownership in building and managing a network. Programmability will help disaggregate RAN, virtualise its components and realise virtualised components in the edge cloud.
  • Programmable optical and transport networks: For metro-haul optical transport networks, programmability will provide a converged platform to provision multi-service packet services across the optical transport domain with a control and feedback mechanism for effective spectrum utilisation.

Find out here how programmable networks can help you prepare for the data and device explosion of today and tomorrow.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.


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