Today’s networks are being stretched to the limit, thanks to global trends like mobility, the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and an increasingly services-based technology economy. These factors have combined to drive serious changes in the way networks are architected and managed, with an emphasis on software, automation and optical networking pushing the development of next-generation Web-scale networks.
The rise in users and the amount of bandwidth consumed combined with the need to keep networks lean and cost effective is pushing service providers to squeeze all they can get out of available spectrum. That’s where optical fiber spectrum comes into play, enabling service providers and telcos to maximize usage of both wireless and photonic spectrum using optical networking.
According to Ryan Perrera, country head in India for Ciena’s Global Field Organization, LTE (News - Alert)-Advanced (LTE-A), carrier aggregation and densification of small cells are all emerging solutions designed to maximize optical spectrum and provide strong network coverage. In a piece for the Economic Times, Perrera recently wrote that service providers and telcos need to take advantage of new ways to leverage excess spectrum in the optical network, since traditional ways of deploying capacity simply can’t keep up with today’s bandwidth demands.
“For example, the traditional method of planning and designing a network doesn’t take into account today’s increasingly flexible and software-oriented technologies,” wrote Perrera. “In fact, it typically involves planning capacity for the maximum number of wavelengths in end-of-life conditions, which in turn means that a significant amount of system margin goes unused.”
The rise of software defined networking (SDN) and software-centric approaches to network management, used in tandem with programmable coherent optics, can enable service providers to scan fiber networks for capacity information in real time. Excess and unused spectrum may then be turned into usable spectrum, improving services for customers and also opening up opportunities for new revenue streams.
The key to staying on top of excess spectrum, according to Perrera, is to use flexible rate transceivers to enable simplified forecasting, quicker response times to on-demand service requests, improved service availability and overall reductions in capital expenditures. A software-defined approach to spectrum allocation also enables faster fault recovery and the ability to better cater to temporary spikes in bandwidth consumption.
Flexible rate transceivers, agile flexible grid photonic architecture solutions and software analytics are all important tools for architecting and managing Web-scale networks. These solutions, when combined, offer insights on unused spectrum and infrastructure assets and ultimately enable a variety of efficiencies and cost savings. By taking advantage of the available tools, telcos and service providers can offer customers a better experience while gleaning more value and even new revenue sources from their existing spectrum and networks.
Edited by Alicia Young