The Vectoring Vintage

Like with most fine wines, Vectoring continues to improve with age. With tens of millions of Vectoring lines deployed throughout the world, what was once a highly speculative technology has certainly proven its worth in delivering 100 Mbps services with predictability and stability.

Passing the 10 Million ports shipped milestone in 2016, our novel Vectoring portfolio has proven to be the fastest growing product line in the history of the company, yielding the number one North American market share position, with shipments exceeding those of the next two largest vendors combined.

Thankfully the maturation process did not culminate with Vectoring for VDSL2; rather this was only the first step in this yet unfinished Vectoring tale. Like a Gran Reserve, who's maturation extracts even more from the fruits off the humble vine, Vectoring technology, now in its fifth year, is extracting even more from the network of copper vines in the form of Super-Vectoring.

2017 shall bear witness to the first large-scale commercial deployments of Super-Vectoring technology. Coexisting with current Vectored VDSL2 services, Super-Vectoring technology extends the usable broadband spectrum from 17 MHz to 35 MHz. This doubling of usable spectrum is particularly attractive to operators seeking to rapidly deploy service offerings with capacities in the range of 300 Mbps. By leveraging their current active equipment locations, operators can exploit existing cabinet, backhaul, and power assets, alongside their deployed MSAN and DSLAM platforms, to achieve the fastest possible time to market for this next wave of Ultra-fast services.

With Super-Vectoring emerging across the hiX5600, Total Access 5000, and Total Access 1148 sealed micro DSLAM families, ADTRAN is bringing to market the most comprehensive and highest density Super-Vectoring portfolio available in the industry.

As with a good Bordeaux, Vectoring technology, entering its second half-decade, has much more to give. At 35 MHz today, the role for even higher coexisting frequencies is under investigation. At this point, it is difficult to predict just where the ultimate potential for Vectoring lays, but suffice to say, for those who speculated about its viability, their bottle has clearly run dry.

Building a Platform for Change

“Every once in a while a product comes along that changes everything”, a quote from the late Steve Jobs, during what most observed as the launch of the first iPhone product. Only now with hindsight can we really appreciate the vision held by Jobs and his team at Apple at that time. Ultimately, the iPhone and all the iThings that followed were components in a platform. A largely open platform that served as a common environment through which the best ideas and content from throughout the world could reach global audiences at near zero cost, which as we all know paved the way for a tidal wave of innovation in applications, business models, and communication. In building their platform and its surrounding product portfolio, some might argue that Apple had it easy, as it did not have to cater for the complexity that comes with having a legacy. It is amazing how much easier things are when starting with a clean slate. One doesn't have to worry about legacy systems, alignment of vendor capabilities, consistency of features, translation between protocols and modeling languages. Imagine for a second, that we were afforded that opportunity. To build our access networks again from the beginning? What would we do differently?

It transpires that roughly once every decade we are presented with an opportunity to do things differently. As access technologies continue to evolve, frequently advancements force us to deploy our access services from new locations. The journey so far has seen us start in the central office, and a decade later begin our migrations out to the street cabinet. Right now our industry is facing its latest generational upgrade, and with that comes the opportunity for a clean slate. Whether we are deploying DPUs in building basements, or employing a distributed access architecture for DOCSIS 3.1, or migrating to next generation 10 Gbps Symmetric PON solutions, we are presented with a once in a decade opportunity to do things differently.

When one considers how the Web-scale giants have constructed the elastic infrastructures that seem to provide them with what often feels like infinite expansion capacity, one cannot but be impressed with the ease and pace with which they can launch and expand new services. Much of their success is attributable to the platform thinking they have applied to the network. Rather than being divorced from the compute and storage resources that create and deliver their services, the network is an integral component of that platform. Exploiting the benefit of open SDN control, along with the capabilities of OpenFlow, and standardized YANG data models, the Web-scale giants have unleashed the sort of network agility that traditional network operators could only dream of - until now!

ADTRAN, working in line with initiatives spawned from ON.LABs, such as ONOS SDN control and the CORD architectures has introduced Mosaic. Mosaic is a platform around which an ecosystem of ADTRAN-developed network elements and applications, seamlessly coexist alongside third-party solutions to provide our customers with an open environment for service innovation.

Built on open principles, and with ONOS and ODL integration at its core, Mosaic brings that once in a decade opportunity for operators to break the shackles of vendor lock-in, and really focus on service innovation that can set them apart from the competition.

Open platforms represent the future. Whether it is Amazon or Uber, those platforms that can connect users of services with providers of services, and bring monetizable value in the process, are the ones which will succeed in the long term. The future for network operators is to elevate from being a service provider to becoming a platform that permits them to be a services provider.

Lighting the Way for 5G

Lighting the Way for 5G

Miraculous. That is what springs to mind when one listens to the list of capabilities that 5G networks are proposed to bring to the market: single-digit millisecond latency, bit error rates comparable with fibre networks, massive scalability in connected devices, and broadband capacities that will satisfy the needs of our Gigabit Societies. These are lofty claims for any technology. As with most things in life, the devil is in the details. It is true that 5G networks are being developed to address all of the capabilities I described and many more.

However, it is important to note that not all of the scenarios will be available together at the same time, from the same cell location. Some of the use cases will be serviced from existing macro cell locations, while others are going to demand the use of small cells that are located much closer to the end- user device. In particular, the very-high-capacity use cases will require the use of much higher frequencies and broader spectrum allocations to deliver on the needs of Gigabit Societies. Most acknowledge that a 100 fold densification of cell sites will be required, along with backhaul capacities in the range of 4 Gbps or 5 Gbps for each small cell location to deliver the capacities that will be demanded by future Gigabit Societies.

While millimeter wave radio backhaul will have a role to play in the backhaul of these 5G networks, the reality is that very-deep fibre deployments will be required to realize the ambitions of 5G. That is where some of the largest challenges and opportunities exist. It is no secret that the buildout of new fibre networks is CAPEX intensive and takes time. Those countries that have invested heavily in Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) infrastructures are likely to secure the earliest large-scale 5G advantages, simply because they will have much of the painstaking infrastructure work already complete. Modern PON networks also have a significant role to play in accelerating 5G small cell deployments, by permitting the existing fibre access networks to be utilized for 5G Xhaul. Implementing wavelength separation within an existing PONs provides an unbeatable combination of time to market, coupled with the necessary separation of mission critical Xhaul traffic from basic residential Internet access.

This capability, when coupled with the SDN control of the access infrastructure, can provide a network layer that can breathe based on the demand profiles of the users. Using wavelength slicing in conjunction with centralized SD-Access control can ensure the maximum network capacity is always available, while simultaneously delivering massive operational costs savings in the form of reduced power consumption during off-peak times.

With ADTRAN's vOLT platform, the capability exists to permit the coexistence of GPON, XGS-PON, and up to eight TWDM NGPON2 wavelengths simultaneously. With the potential for 100Gbps symmetric capacity per PON, the ADTRAN Mosaic Cloud Platform and disaggregated vOLT solutions will stand proud as a shining light that is driving 5G.