The continued proliferation of bandwidth intensive applications and services, and devices – mobile and fixed – that are capable of accessing them, service providers are faced with the challenge of ensuring their network infrastructures are capable of delivering those services reliable and cost effectively. That mean they must invest in new access and delivery solutions that will not only prepare them for sustained growth opportunities, without alienating existing subscribers and applications, including those running on existing legacy systems.
In other words, they must seek ways to secure revenue growth in today’s new digital environment, while increasing cost efficiencies on their overall operations. That means investing in intelligent infrastructures that will allow them to combine legacy solutions with next generation communications, while also adapting their business models to effectively meet the needs of today’s subscribers.
As fixed and mobile network operators continue to look for ways to increase revenues – something that is becoming increasingly difficult, with data services not making up for lost voice services revenues – they have looked at alternatives, largely focusing on their networks and, more specifically, migrating to all-IP infrastructures.
This migration process requires investment in the physical elements of the infrastructure, as well as implementation costs. But, perhaps more importantly, it also requires a solid plan for transforming traditionally reliable legacy infrastructures to a new generation of technologies that require meticulous care in integration to preserve subscribers’ quality of experience. It also requires updates to and integration of back-end BSS/OSS, including adoption of new business models through third-party relationships.
This migration process introduces integration complexities within service providers’ own infrastructures, as well as with external, third-party partners, which have previously not been a factor and which could, without proper project planning overwhelm service providers and their networks. Underlying this network and business model transformation process is a highly sensitive fiscal environment that requires careful consideration of both capital investment and associated operational costs.
To facilitate the ongoing process of creating a more efficient and cost-effective network that, at the same time, provides for the introduction of innovative value-added services, network operators can look at putting in place what Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) calls a high leverage network.
High leverage networks are designed to provide scalability and flexibility in the access and transport layers, integrating service and applications awareness, QoS, and traffic optimization into the end-to-end network. They also support application enablement, allowing providers to not only deliver their own content and applications to users, but to adopt new collaborative business models that leverage their partners’ content, applications, and users, increasing revenue while lowering costs.
In migrating to IP networks, many fixed-line operators have already started on the path to high leverage networks as they look to deploy new service and application bundles, including triple and quadruple play services. Wireless operators are now following suit, following the LTE (News - Alert) and Evolved Packet Core models for transforming their 2G and 3G networks to 4th generation IP networks. As such, the model going forward becomes similar for wireline and wireless network providers, as they look to meet demands for increased bandwidth and access to advanced applications, anywhere and on any device. A fully converged high leverage network is their solution.
Alcatel-Lucent indentifies these key characteristics of a high leverage network:
- High bandwidth – Delivers the applications and content end users want, where they want it, over both wireline and wireless infrastructure.
- Scalable and elastic – Expands and contracts dynamically to meet network provider and end user requirements, but at minimum marginal cost.
- Reliable and resilient – Enables always-on and uninterrupted services and applications that work around failures transparently.
- Cost-effective – Offers maximum capability at optimum CAPEX, while reducing OPEX (News - Alert) through maximum operational efficiency and technical innovation that improves eco-sustainability.
- Eco-sustainable – Realizes bottom-line and top-line benefits across the network while dramatically reducing the environmental footprint.
- Multi-service – Supports multiple and concurrent customized services over a single, flatter, cost-optimized, higher-performance IP architecture with more dynamic service creation, delivery and assurance.
- Open and interoperable – Enables rapid service velocity and monetization through the exposure of network capabilities in a managed and controlled way to enhance end user QoE.
- Secure and private – Protects the assets and intellectual property of all parties, and the personal and contextual information of end users.
The key to success for service providers – and the ideal behind a high leverage network – is to be able to offer a flexible and differentiated portfolio of personalized services, applications, and content with reliability and performance that cannot be accomplished traditional over-the-top best effort Internet. This includes the flexibility to adjust and adapt services rapidly to meet new and evolving of residential and business customer demands.
Importantly, a high leverage network allows network operators to converge their infrastructures vertically and horizontally, to ensure optimal service quality to all user groups across a single architecture, rather than having to maintain multiple overlay networks used to deliver services to residential, business, and mobile customers today. This simplifies network and subscriber management, lowering TCO and increasing ROI.
Benefits of a converged infrastructure include:
- A single converged, multi-service network that leverages the power and commonality of Ethernet and IP, and is application-aware and highly equipped to cost effectively enable the creation and delivery of more dynamic, flexible and personalized services;
- Universal converged access with scalable dynamic bandwidth across wireline and wireless, with converged aggregation for wireline and wireless that reduces costs;
- Convergence (News - Alert) across the IP and Optical layers in the backbone to enable continuously scalable and dynamic bandwidth, from 10Gb/s to 40Gb/s and 100Gb/s, improving operational efficiencies, reduces costs and carbon footprint;
- Supporting end-to-end network and service management with tighter integration of OSS/BSS with the network, which enables greater efficiency and faster time to market for new services; and
- Enabling converged service control for seamless and transparent service delivery across wireline and wireless domains through dynamic policy management, IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert) (IMS), and Mobility Manager (MME).
Naturally, this evolution to a high leverage network will not happen overnight, and it requires the support from a partner with the experience and product portfolio to ensure a non-disruptive process. With a partner that focuses on the wide range of network technologies required to complete this transformation, and one that recognizes the importance of business continuity throughout the migration process, network operators can move forward with their plans for securing and, indeed growing, their market presence for the future.
The end result will be a network with increased efficiencies and lower deployment costs, delivering anytime, anywhere broadband to wireless and wireline subscribers, across an architecture that provides maximum end-to-end speed and reliability with lower TCO, and the intelligence, scalability, and security to deliver services and capitalize on multiple business models.
Most importantly, it will allow service providers to renew their focus on their customer – developing and deploying new services, which will continue to be the differentiator between providers – rather than worrying about their networks.