Category Archives: Broadband

Updates from Ciena

Planning for 5G Success: A Tale of Two Operators
The industry is moving forward with 5G deployments, motivated by differentiated service offerings. Blue Planet’s Soumen Chatterjee describes how 5G Automation is helping two mobile network operators plan their own path to 5G success.
By Soumen Chatterjee – In my earlier blog, I wrote about the promise of 5G network slicing, which opens the door to a variety of service offerings, to support differentiated requirements across industry sectors. In the interim, the current challenging economic time of the coronavirus pandemic has given mobile network operators (MNOs) a chance to re-assess their 5G strategies and double-down on pursuing new service opportunities.

The shift in consumer lifestyle patterns may have impacted the timing of some 5G use cases – industrial automation demand may slow, but interest for multi-media remote sporting experiences is anticipated. 5G brings unprecedented opportunities to provide customers with new services and an exceptional user experience, given performance of up to 100 Gbps and latency in the order of 1 millisecond. But 5G also brings additional operational complexity with network slicing technology, new radios, rearchitected transport, and a virtualized 5G core. 5G needs automation in the backend to manage this increased complexity and to contain associated operational costs. For MNOs, automation is a must, not an option.

In my discussions with MNOs, it is apparent that planning for 5G deployments is heavily influenced by an operator’s legacy infrastructure – infrastructure that exists in the field and systems that exist in the network operations center (NOC). However, no matter the starting point, it is essential to have dynamic planning capabilities that simplify and accelerate each phase of the process.

At one incumbent mobile operator, they are planning to roll-out small cell 5G radios alongside their 4G radios, in non-standalone (NSA) mode. However, they first need to get visibility of their current network assets. Their legacy inventory and operational support systems (OSS) are disjointed, so it is difficult to obtain an accurate and comprehensive view.

Furthermore, those OSS are not up to the task of modelling new 5G constructs. It would be an extremely heavy lift to shoehorn 5G data in, with very limited scope for extensibility. On the other hand, introduction of a new system could further fragment or duplicate operational data.

This is when Blue Planet’s federation capabilities prove to be a crucial step for 5G planning. With Blue Planet’s 5G Automation solution, data from existing systems is federated, reconciled, and synchronized into a new unified data model built on state-of-the-art graph database technology which can accommodate complex 5G relationships. There are also existing business processes – mostly manual – that rely on OSS, which need to be modernized to support automated 5G workflows.

Another MNO customer is a new entrant who is not encumbered by pre-existing infrastructure and OSS, has more flexibility in designing new systems and processes to support their 5G strategy, and can implement them more quickly. This MNO is planning to deploy tens of thousands of 5G cell sites in standalone mode (SA) within a few years. To scale expediently, they need to design-in automation of their business processes from the outset. Blue Planet’s 5G Automation solution is a natural fit, as it provides multi-vendor service orchestration and assurance founded on a unified inventory of hybrid physical and virtual infrastructure

Beyond the radio infrastructure, both MNOs are looking ahead to architecting customizable network slices end-to-end across the radio access network (RAN), transport and cloud domains, to satisfy their customers’ requirements. To this end, Blue Planet provides the holistic operational system to help determine the placement of 5G Core (5GC) virtualized network functions (VNFs) at the edge or in the core, with necessary compute capacity, to best support a variety of latency and bandwidth needs. more>

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Updates from Ciena

How governments can solve layer 3 network complexity
What if government agencies could monitor and analyze their IP networks to ensure peak efficiency and service continuity—all while trying to modernize the network, balance cost, performance, and resiliency? Jim Westdorp, Ciena Government Solutions’ Chief Technologist, explains how this is possible.
By Jim Westdorp – The dynamic nature of IP networking makes it virtually impossible to know at any point in time how traffic is traversing your networks. Troubleshooting problems by issuing pings and router CLI commands, scanning log files, and manually correlating the results is imprecise and inefficient. Many government networks disable services like Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), which makes these inefficient tasks impossible. The results can impact service delivery, the agility of the network, and mission.

Traditional management tools have several limitations. For example, they can’t:

  • Provide real-time visibility into routing paths across the network
  • Provide unique alerts for Layer 3 technologies related to: state changes, pathing, performance, and the availability of the network elements to route packets
  • Show and model how routing errors and changes impact service delivery
  • Understand the resiliency of the network
  • Correlate routing events with performance metrics of network services to assure service performance
  • Compute and provision transport paths to deploy new services
  • Provide unified visibility and analysis for multi-vendor, multi-layer networks

Think about all the things you’d like to be able to do with your network, and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What if you could get a graphical view of all the IP flows in your network and gain deeper insights into traffic patterns, flows, and congestion?
  • What if you could drill deep into specific flows to understand the detailed route and particular pieces of network equipment those flows traversed?
  • What if you could troubleshoot your network using DVR-like functionality to see the exact state of the network at the time of an event, even if it was days in the past?
  • What if you had automated analytics to help identify the best paths to route traffic through your network?
  • What if your cyber team could utilize the same platform to be alerted to conditions indicative of external interference with a government?

Often, “what-ifs” are hypotheticals. Not in this case, with Blue Planet’s Route Optimization and Analysis (ROA).  This technology has been field-proven for more than a decade with government entities that have strategic imperatives to monitor and analyze their IP Networks to ensure peak efficiency and service continuity—all while trying to modernize the network, balance cost, performance, and resiliency. more>

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Updates from Ciena

With great fiber count comes great responsibility
Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM) cables are a key focus area for submarine network innovation in 2020. Ciena’s Brian Lavallée explains how SDM cables offer massive increases in submarine cable carrying capacity and the challenges associated with these new wet plant designs.
By Brian Lavallée – In a recent blog entitled “The Submarine Network Seascape in 2020”, I wrote about what I believe are key areas for focused submarine network innovation in 2020. One key area is Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM) cables. This new wet plant design allows submarine cable operators to “side-step” the Shannon Limit by expanding Channel Bandwidth (B) in the equation, which is the usable optical bandwidth in the submarine cable. In other words, the more bandwidth available in the cable, the more capacity is enabled. It’s as simple as that.

Once a submarine cable (wet plant) is laid upon the seabed, the Channel Bandwidth (B) is fixed and is dictated by the number of fiber pairs and the total usable optical spectrum of the optical repeaters (a historical industry misnomer of what are today, optical amplifiers). This means that once a submarine cable is deployed, one must improve the Signal-to-Noise Ratio, on the right side of the equation above, to increase the Channel Capacity (C). This is exactly what the industry has been doing for years with constant technology innovation taking place in the Submarine Line Terminating Equipment (SLTE) and the coherent modems they house.

However, as we get ever-closer to the Shannon Limit of a submarine optical fiber, we start to experience diminishing returns in terms of the upgrade leaps in total information-carrying capacity of the optical fiber. This means that the industry focus must shift back to the wet plant interconnecting the SLTE coherent modems.

Compared to rapid, ongoing SLTE coherent modem innovation over the past decade, the wet plants they connect to have witnessed comparatively less innovation – until recently. One way to expand the Channel Bandwidth (B) in the equation above is to add many more fiber pairs to the submarine cable to provide a higher aggregate of usable optical spectrum in the submarine cable. This is referred to as Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM). Modern submarine cables have 4 to 8 Fiber Pairs (FP), while SDM offers 12 to 16 FPs, and potentially more in the future.

As an industry proof point, the first SDM submarine cable will be Google’s transatlantic 6,400km  Dunant cable, which supports up to 250Tb/s of overall capacity provided by an aggregate of 12 fiber pairs – very impressive! more>

Updates from Ciena

Delivering true 5G: are we ready?
It’s already been an exciting year for 5G technology, as we finally move the needle on commercial deployments and early adoption of new use cases. We discussed with Ciena’s Joe Marsella how mobile and wholesale network operators are gearing up to capitalize on the benefits and opportunities of 5G – and how technologies such as Network Slicing will play a key role.
By Joe Marsella – What many may not realize is that 5G will initially leverage 4G and coexist with it for many years to come, rather than immediately obsolete it. Consumers will have plenty of time to swap out their 4G-enabled devices for 5G-capable ones with the pace of change largely dictated by how attractive the new 5G enable apps and monthly plans will be. However, we simply can’t discount the amazing network performance that 5G will provide.

We’ve already witnessed 5G New Radios (NR) providing impressive wireless performance gains, even while connected to the existing 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in what’s referred to as 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) mode. This configuration supports early enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) applications such as HD video streaming. The next evolution of 5G performance will be driven by 5G Stand-Alone (SA) mode, where 5G NRs are connect to a 5G Core alongside Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) to support massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC). These latter two uses cases will enable a wide range of new applications for telemedicine, industrial automation, self-driving vehicles, and public safety among others.

Operators globally have been focused on 5G rollouts in densely populated metro areas in an effort to offer the base solution to their masses of customers as quickly as possible. It always comes down to bandwidth – and more of it! And, numerous city centers are on the brink of 5G transformation. In the future, we’ll see metro areas morph into Smart Cities, adopt driverless vehicles, embrace tech-powered emergency responder services, and fuel hubs for new innovation centers and businesses.

On the other hand, the outlook in rural areas – with lower end-user densities – will lag metro 5G rollouts. While government entities have taken steps in the right direction to help close the digital divide by offering funding to deliver high-speed bandwidth service to rural communities, there’s still a long way to go. more>

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Updates from Ciena

How governments can solve layer 3 network complexity
What if government agencies could monitor and analyze their IP networks to ensure peak efficiency and service continuity—all while trying to modernize the network, balance cost, performance, and resiliency? Jim Westdorp, Ciena Government Solutions’ Chief Technologist, explains how this is possible.
By Jim Westdorp – Do you know what your layer 3 network is doing?

The dynamic nature of IP networking makes it virtually impossible to know at any point in time how traffic is traversing your networks. Troubleshooting problems by issuing pings and router CLI commands, scanning log files, and manually correlating the results is imprecise and inefficient. Many government networks disable services like Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), which makes these inefficient tasks impossible. The results can impact service delivery, the agility of the network, and mission.

Traditional management tools have several limitations. For example, they can’t:

  • Provide real-time visibility into routing paths across the network
  • Provide unique alerts for Layer 3 technologies related to: state changes, pathing, performance, and the availability of the network elements to route packets
  • Show and model how routing errors and changes impact service delivery
  • Understand the resiliency of the network
  • Correlate routing events with performance metrics of network services to assure service performance
  • Compute and provision transport paths to deploy new services
  • Provide unified visibility and analysis for multi-vendor, multi-layer networks

Think about all the things you’d like to be able to do with your network, and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What if you could get a graphical view of all the IP flows in your network and gain deeper insights into traffic patterns, flows, and congestion?
  • What if you could drill deep into specific flows to understand the detailed route and particular pieces of network equipment those flows traversed?
  • What if you could troubleshoot your network using DVR-like functionality to see the exact state of the network at the time of an event, even if it was days in the past?
  • What if you had automated analytics to help identify the best paths to route traffic through your network?
  • What if your cyber team could utilize the same platform to be alerted to conditions indicative of external interference with a government?

Often, “what-ifs” are hypotheticals. Not in this case, with Blue Planet’s Route Optimization and Analysis (ROA).  This technology has been field-proven for more than a decade with government entities that have strategic imperatives to monitor and analyze their IP Networks to ensure peak efficiency and service continuity—all while trying to modernize the network, balance cost, performance, and resiliency. more>

What will it take to stand up again together? Start with accountablity

By Nancy Gibbs – Our nation is not healthy enough to handle this much pain. A cascade of crises has brought us to our knees and to the streets: a pandemic that locked us down and ravaged the population, especially communities of color; an economic convulsion that flattened small businesses and hurled 40 million people out of work; and the three horrific killings of unarmed black Americans during this spring of despair.

What will it take to end the pain, to stand up again together? Let’s start with accountability — an end to the impunity that defines our age.

The 21st century has been generous beyond belief to those who came to the table already set up for success. I count myself among them. We can shelter in place, take a hit to our routines and even our savings, and expect to recover. The pandemic has exposed how willing we as a nation are to send disproportionately black and brown “essential” workers out to do their jobs whether or not it is safe.

It has exposed the breathtaking speed with which our leaders will write trillion-dollar checks to protect corporate interests and shield financial markets. And it revealed the willingness of rich and comfortable companies to take as much as they can get. more>

Updates from Ciena

How to simplify today’s network for tomorrow’s demand
The traffic growth curve has always been steep, but the likes of 5G, IoT, and Edge Computing mean it’s going to get even more so. Today’s networks need to adapt, and here, Ciena’s Jürgen Hatheier, CTO for the EMEA region, points the way forward via the adoption of a new, holistic, end-to-end mindset, for a simplified network that’s automated, open, and lean.
By Jürgen Hatheier – It’s time to think differently. Constantly adding more and bigger hardware platforms to increase network capacity simply isn’t viable anymore from cost, power, space, and complexity viewpoints. Cost and complexity are particularly exacerbated when building and operating standalone networks for private line and Enterprise business services, 4G/5G mobile services, and residential broadband services.

Take a new approach. Click here to start your journey to a simplified network environment.

There is a better way.

An adaptive approach will eliminate complexity, provide analytics-driven network intelligence, and deliver programmable, on-demand scalability. It’s the only way to ensure you can offer differentiated services at the speed, performance, and cost levels your customers demand.

Here’s how it works:

  • A leaner, more cost-effective network
    Replace costly, complex legacy router platforms with simpler, streamlined Adaptive IPTM that sheds operational complexity associated with supporting obsolete and unrequired protocols, while providing the ones you do need, such as Segment Routing. This means you get the best possible use of all your network assets via a leaner and simpler network to own and operate on an ongoing basis.
  • Simplifies your management requirements
    With a simpler, leaner common network architecture, services are easier to deploy, manage, and maintain.
  • Scale your network – not your complexity
    By converging and simplifying your network, you open the door to greater scalability. As converged packet (Ethernet, MPLS, IP, SR) networking equipment seamlessly integrates the optical layer, it can scale programmatically to deliver 100G to 400G and beyond. This means you can maintain pace with your customers’ growing bandwidth demands in a quicker and far more efficient manner.

A holistic end-to-end networking approach allows you to meet growing traffic demands while simultaneously improving operational efficiency. Ciena’s Adaptive IP, with its programmable infrastructure, application-specific IP features, and intelligent automation, takes you to new levels of network scalability, performance, and control. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now
Adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience.
By Sapana Agrawal, Aaron De Smet, Sébastien Lacroix, and Angelika Reich – Imagine a crisis that forces your company’s employees to change the way they work almost overnight. Despite initial fears that the pressure would be too great, you discover that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term. That’s what leaders of many companies around the globe are finding as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Consider the experience of one pharma company with more than 10,000 sales reps. In February, it switched from an offline model to a 100 percent remote-working one. As the containment phase of the crisis gradually recedes, you might expect remote working to fade as well. However, the company now plans to make a 30 percent-online–70 percent-offline working model permanent, thus leveraging the freshly developed skills of its sales reps.

Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.

The coronavirus pandemic has made this question more urgent. Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working—or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.

To meet this challenge, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience. Now is the time for companies to double down on their learning budgets and commit to reskilling. Developing this muscle will also strengthen companies for future disruptions.

In this article, we offer six steps leaders can take to ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills critical to their recovery business models. more>

Updates from Ciena

Driving towards an open and smarter RAN
What are the benefits of opening the Radio Access Network (RAN) and what is the industry doing to drive this change?
By Brian Lavallée – Since the dawn of mobile networking, the Radio Access Network (RAN) has been closed and proprietary. It remains one of the last parts of the global network infrastructure yet to be opened. Doing so will allow Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to pick-and-choose radios, Baseband Units (BBU) components, and the transport networks that interconnect them, from one or more vendors.

Opening the RAN, via a broad adoption of open specifications, will yield benefits related to new market entrants with new ideas and mindsets, faster innovation fueled by increased competition, a broader and more secure supply chain, as well as expected price reductions driven by increased competition. The benefits of openness are simply too enticing to ignore and is why the movement continues to gain momentum.

An open RAN also comes with tradeoffs to be addressed, because great openness comes with great responsibility. Building best-in-breed RANs composed of different vendors means someone has to do the integration of the radios, BBU components, and transport network that interconnects them, since this was previously done by the sole turnkey vendor.

Interworking issues tend to be more involved, especially as the number of vendors grows, but there’s work being done by such groups as the O-RAN Alliance, Small Cell Forum, 3GPP, and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to alleviate the challenges associated with an open RAN. The number of groups working on opening the RAN is a good indication of the will of the industry, especially the MNOs, to eliminate decades old vendor lock-in. This is because the time to open the RAN is now, as 5G systems are just starting to be rolled out with increasing velocity, worldwide. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Unleash a full spectrum of submarine network services
What are the benefits and challenges when providing submarine network services based on Spectrum Sharing?

By Brian Lavallée – A while ago, I wrote the “Virtualize Your Submarine Cable” blog looking at the idea of Spectrum Sharing, which logically partitions the available optical spectrum of a submarine optical fiber among multiple different end-users. This solution addresses customers who need more than a few channels (wavelengths) but less that an entire optical fiber, which can be extremely expensive or more often than not, simply unavailable.

End-users can can choose to dip their toe into Spectrum Sharing, by purchasing spectrum but having the cable operator managed their “virtual fiber pair” service, or they can choose to dive right in and manage the spectrum and required Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLE) by themselves. There are pros and cons to each approach. If only there was a freely available reference to explain these pros and cons…

Spectrum Sharing offers several benefits to end-users and submarine cable operators alike. For example, submarine cable operators can monetize their submerged assets in a new and interesting way, by selling upgradeable THz, and not fixed Tbps. End-users can leverage rapid, ongoing advancements in coherent modem technology because they can increase the capacity of their purchased optical spectrum partition by installing the latest SLTE, when they need it. This allows end-users to leverage the latest coherent optical technology enabling a continual capacity upgrade to a fixed optical spectrum, and also allows the cost per bit to continually decline, which is a key benefit of each new generation of technology. more>

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