5G officially made it to Gartner’s hype cycle in 2017 and it promises more than just faster wireless Internet – from connecting billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to enabling self-driving cars, to delivering more reliable and secure wireless broadband, 5G is key to a smart connected world of the future. On the other hand, 5G involves a new Radio Access Network (RAN) architecture that involves 10 times as many cell sites, known as 5G densification. In turn, each of these 10s of thousands of cell sites require multi-gigabit, highly-reliable front-haul or back-haul connectivity.
In 2013, over 40 million Target customer accounts were compromised via a security breach. Target’s systems were not even to blame, as the breach occurred via an attack on one of their third party vendor’s IT systems. Other high profile attacks have followed, and there are countless others which don’t make national headlines. If maintaining tight security is an issue for a brand name such as Target, imagine how difficult it is for a SMB enterprise to ensure their systems are locked down.
Cybercriminals see SMBs as an easy target, and businesses are aware they need to do something to protect their sensitive data. With complex and expensive security solutions out of their reach, these organizations need something that is easy to deploy and manage, while providing top flight security features at an economical price. Enter the newest addition to ADTRAN’s ProCloud Subscription Services suite, NG Firewall Powered by Untangle, which provides a cloud-based approach that is changing the network security landscape for SMBs and the managed service providers (MSPs) who support them.
A total of 207 rural broadband providers accepted $5.283 billion in the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program, which is a part of the broader Connect America Fund program. This funding will be provided in annual increments over the next ten years to support the expansion of rural broadband across America.
According to the FCC, this A-CAM funding will support bringing broadband to over 631K locations in 43 states. Many existing ADTRAN customers have chosen to participate in the A-CAM program and are planning broadband projects as a result. This funding infusion also provides added benefits to our customers by releasing capital for network upgrades and expansions in other areas. Some of those projects are already underway.
As a number of factors converge to herald a new software defined shift, and with SD access becoming mainstream, software defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are increasingly working their way into the wider communications discussion.
But what does it mean for service providers? Why is now the right time to embrace it?
While the terms SDN and NFV are bandied around, the lack of industry education around them poses a potential barrier when trying to link the potential of this new technology and the way we do business more widely.
What this means for how we do business
As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s impossible to ignore how SD access might influence a large-scale shift to a much more inclusive, flexible and fair way of doing business.
I recently joined a SCTE webinar my colleague, Joerick Santiago, who was presenting on the different methods for mitigating and eliminating Optical Beat Interference (OBI) from your RFoG network. As the number of subscriber being added to FTTH networks utilizing RFoG continue to rise, the risk for a poor customer experience rises with it due to the increase in upstream traffic, often times simultaneously, from multiple subscribers. Ultimately, this traffic occurring at the same time can lead to disruptions in service, which leads to customer service calls and costly troubleshooting. In a worst case scenario, it can lead to loss of subscribers if the problem is not resolved.
It was interesting to me that regardless of your deployment model, pure RFoG or a hybrid RFoG/EPON, OBI is still a threat to your subscriber’s experience. Joerick went on to explain the different solutions available today for OBI mitigation – wavelength randomization, active splitter, selectable upstream - bringing to light the pros and cons associated with each.
What’s the future of service providers – telecom and cable companies – in the emerging platform economy? Connectivity and mobility are fundamental, for sure. But right now it feels like our industry is just a spectator as the really big changes unfold. No more a participant in that transformation than, say, Goodyear and Continental are in the tectonic shift to autonomous electric vehicles. Part of the furniture; not part of the conversation.
Why is that? Do you think we should talk about it? Figure out what the platform future could look like? So welcome to the Great Telecom Platform Debate. My goals for this blog are to frame that debate and throw it open to the industry. We’ve attracted the help of some real experts to get us started, including Laura Reillier - Demystifying Platform Strategy: Five key questions answered and Richard Feasey - Do Telco Platforms make Net Neutrality Rules Irrelevant? Share your thoughts with us…
We’ve become accustomed to clicking a button on our phones to summon a ride or book a room on Airbnb or to adjust our home thermostat. Platform companies Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Google and Amazon dominate the top market cap spots on the stock exchange. This was not the case as recently as five years ago when only one tech company was among the valuation giants. Futurist Mike Walsh made the observation that “change appears incremental until it’s too late”. Companies that are not working to migrate from purely linear pipeline business models to the platform economy will wake up one morning and realize that the world has changed.
The FCC is continuing to push for expanded broadband coverage in remote and rural areas as part of its Connect America Fund (CAF) program. CAF provides billions of dollars of funding to carriers to support their delivery of 10 Mbps download with 1 Mbps upload (10/1 Mbps) speeds to bridge the digital divide. But as an executive at a rural carrier that I talked to pointed out, “How do you deliver affordable and reliable broadband to a customer who lives in a canyon, miles from your nearest cabinet, yet you are obligated to serve?” Though not the typical scenario, this is the conundrum that rural carriers have with expanding broadband coverage – ultra-long distances, customers that number in the single digits per square mile and a difficult terrain that makes new network buildouts difficult and economically unviable.
Arlynn Wilson of ADTRAN, participated in USTelecoms’ recent webinar, “Extending Broadband to America’s Underserved,” pointed out that fiber is the ideal option for broadband – but very expensive for low customer count. Wilson recommended looking at a broadband toolkit that includes copper-based ADSL2 and VDSL2 as well as fixed-wireless access (FWA) technologies that can be used to more economically deliver broadband coverage to lower-density, far-flung areas. The point should be made that “broadband” here means the 2015 FCC broadband definition of 25/1Mbps not the minimum CAF-funded rate of 10/1Mbps. Wilson shared several points worth noting:
Nothing has the potential to shake up the telecommunications access world more than the Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD) initiative, which was launched last year by ON.Lab and is now part of the Linux Foundation’s many open-source initiatives to open up communications networks.
For decades, the access portion of telecommunications networks – as well as many other parts of the network – have been the domain of highly specialized and proprietary technology. The access network is crucial because it’s where important wide area network (WAN) services such as broadband and mobile get extended out to the customer. In the last decade, this has generally meant a mixture of passive optical networking (PON) and digital subscriber line (DSL) services. Now CORD can change the way these services are deployed.
In the CORD vision, all central offices could be standardized around a generic hardware infrastructure defining racks of servers and switches. These generic hardware modules will be controlled by software that can be programmed and run using a standard, Linux-based operating system. This is a radical shift from the past when access equipment was housed in proprietary racks of either optical line terminals (OLTs) or Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAMs). The CORD model will transform this, creating standardized generic hardware platforms.
Ryan McCowan, fiber access product manager for ADTRAN, recently participated in an UBB2020 webinar on mobilizing SD-Access with 10G PON. Having some prior knowledge of the subject at hand, I still find different points of view to be very informational as I continue to track these emerging technologies. Items I found particularly interesting were:
There is a lot of talk about software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). But so far, the discussion has largely left out the access networks — mobile, broadband, and voice connections to the customer — which are crucial to building a full SDN and NFV platform. What exactly is required to build software-defined access (SD-Access)?
What good are SDN and NVF if they are incompatible with the technology that connects to the customer? Billions of customers worldwide require a connection to the first hop in the network, known as the last mile, which means that somewhere there is a piece of technology that must connect to the network from the customer premises, a device known as customer premises equipment (CPE).
To rapidly roll out new NFV services that can be controlled on an end-to-end basis, service providers need an open SD-Access platform that integrates with NFV. This platform needs to be open, flexible, and programmable, enabling configuration of the underlying access hardware to be made via software.
There is a huge trend underway in technology: The move from pipelines to platforms. Platforms have displaced pipelines to take the business world by storm – whether it’s a video platform such as YouTube or a housing platform such as Airbnb. The same trend is taking hold in the telecom world, where service providers need to respond by building open platforms for the telco cloud.
Let’s start defining pipelines vs. platforms. The concept has been described by authors Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker, and Sangeet Paul Choudary in the book, Platform Revolution, as well as in an article published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) last year, titled, “Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Strategy.” A pipeline, according to the authors, creates value by controlling linear activities in a value chain. Think of the way you buy a cable service, then get a cable box, then buy movies from the cable company. Platforms, on the other hand, connect producers and consumers with a higher value exchange. An example is the Apple App Store.
The most successful services today, whether it’s the iPhone, Netflix, or Airbnb, are platform models that have created rich ecosystems that deliver a huge amount of value toconsumers. The platform gives the consumer a tool to get access to what they want whenever they want it.