Category Archives: Broadband

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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Updates from Ciena

Improving universal edge access with flexible and pluggable 10G PON
The network edge is where content lives, and to operators, where successful business outcomes are determined. With Ciena’s new 10G PON solution, we’re bringing more value to the network edge – via both access and aggregation. Ciena’s Wayne Hickey details the latest addition to our packet networking transceiver family.
By Wayne Hickey – For most network operators, their environment is a very challenging one, as they are experiencing surging traffic growth in both their wireless and wireline networks. Complicating this enormous growth is that most of the traffic is IP-based, an area where the industry for many years has seen flat to declining revenues and associated margins.

his trend is expected to continue well into the future, with many key access and metro trends driving the growth at the network edge today:

The Internet of Things (IoT) will drive in orders of magnitude more endpoints or physical computing devices, each performing application-specific functions as part of an associated product or service. This will drive more endpoints and increased traffic diversity. Just think of the complexity associated with the interconnecting of tens of billions of machines!

In the next few years, the promise of 5G is expected to make the number of connected devices and bandwidth swell, but 5G is more than just a wireless upgrade. It means IoT enablement, up to 100 times higher user data rates, up to 10 times lower latency, and up to 1000 times more data volumes. Having the right capabilities at the network edge is key to delivering much faster download speeds and guaranteed lower latency.

When it comes to computer-generated simulations of virtual and augment reality (VR/AR), less latency is key to a quality user-experience. Both AR and VR will require more bandwidth and near real-time performance. And yet another new video format is just around the corner – 8K, which quadruples the number of pixels, just like 4K did with 1080p.

The network edge is where content lives, and to operators, this is where successful business outcomes are determined. For network operators, improving the ability to offer new service revenue opportunities, as well as improving margins, is essential to maintaining existing customers, as well as attracting new ones. more>

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Updates from Ciena

5G is your business – even if you are in the wireline business
5G is not just about updating handsets, radios, and antennas. Learn about the impacts and opportunities 5G will bring for regional wireline service providers.
By Eric Danielson – 5G is at the forefront of current technology discussions, promising orders of magnitude improvements in data rates, latency, number of connected devices, and overall traffic volumes when compared to today’s 4G LTE. This new generation of mobile network technology will shape and enable the evolution of augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), IoT, esports, and Industry 4.0 applications and use cases. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are investing heavily in 5G, but even if you’re a regional provider of wireline services, 5G will affect your business, bringing substantial new opportunities and threats.

5G is more than upgrading the handsets, radios, and antennas that comprise the Radio Access Network (RAN). Most of the journey content takes from the end device to the data center, where accessed content is hosted, is over (fixed) wireline networks. As 5G removes the last-mile access bottleneck, the unstoppable traffic demand of bandwidth-hungry users and applications will pulse through the entire network.

The first major impact falls over the infrastructure that connects the cell towers to the MNOs’ switching offices. It will need to deliver much higher capacity to a larger number of sites, boosting the wholesale backhaul connectivity business that relies heavily on regional infrastructure service providers.

5G New Radios (NR) will provide much faster download speeds by leveraging millimeter wave wireless spectrum – high frequency electromagnetic waves that don’t propagate far or well through buildings and obstacles – creating the need for many more small cells, much closer to subscribers, humans and machines. It means numerous new sites to interconnect, each one requiring 1Gb/s or (much) higher bandwidth, depending on the expected traffic profile. Mobile backhaul has been a key growth driver for fiber players in recent years and as it surges with 5G deployments, a new competitive environment will arise.

Another significant shift on the wireline fabric will come from the transition of radio networks to centralized/cloud-based architectures (C-RAN model). The radio intelligence, the Baseband Unit (BBU) that once sat on the base of the tower, will be moved to centralized locations and virtualized for improved cost and performance efficiencies.

In 4G, these high-capacity and low-latency fronthaul connections between Radio Heads (RRHs) and BBUs were served mainly by dark fiber links, as fronthaul was closed and proprietary. Fortunately, 5G fronthaul is expected to be open and standards-based, which opens a new fronthaul services market for wholesale operators. more>

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Updates from Ciena

800G is here: pushing the boundaries of what your network can do
The wait is over. 800G has been tested and proven in real production networks with Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme. Learn about how the technology is developed and the value it is bringing to network providers.
By Helen Xenos –800G: the hype is real, and the wait is over. No more guessing or predicting the speeds and specs that Ciena’s WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optical solution can deliver, it is being proven in live networks as we speak.

But WaveLogic 5 Extreme is so much more than just 800G. Because along with single-carrier 800Gb/s throughput for short reach distances, users can scale their entire optical infrastructure, achieving record-breaking capacity per wavelength for all network paths:   600Gb/s across 1,000km links, 400Gb/s across ultra-long-haul routes, and 200Gb/s across Trans-Pacific compensated cables.  At the end of the day, what does this step-level improvement in performance mean for our customers?  Less hardware to deploy and manage, less energy consumption, and reduced cost per bit.

It has been a multi-year development journey to bring WaveLogic 5 Extreme, and the industry’s 1st 800G solution to market, and it’s now available in three different product implementations to meet all customer architecture preferences: 6500 Packet-Optical Platform, Waveserver 5 compact interconnect platform, and the WaveLogic 5 Extreme 800G transceiver module.

Taking a peek behind the curtains, the journey started many years ago with initial targets and aspirational goals, then proceeded with math calculations, propagation analysis, and DSP algorithm development. Over time, a series of test chips for both the ASIC and the high-speed electro-optic components were used to verify the theoretical calculations, finally leading to the integration and verification of the production components and complete product.

The WaveLogic 5 Extreme chip itself is a tiny, but powerful, 12mm x 16mm device. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Designing for programmable infrastructures – advancements in electro-optic components
Component design – based on foundational technologies like Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS), indium phosphide and silicon photonics – is one of the most important arenas for driving innovation in optical network infrastructure. A previous article, Building the Adaptive Network – starting with silicon, explored the advances network equipment and module designers have made in CMOS integrated circuit architectures for DSPs in coherent optical modems. In this article, Patricia Bower reviews the advances made in electro-optical component design, the other critical constituent of a coherent optical modem enabling programmable infrastructures.
By Patricia Bower – Massive growth in fiber capacity demand – along with the need to have more network processing functionality at the edge – is driving network infrastructures to become more programmable and flexible. This transformation to programmable infrastructures enabling the Adaptive NetworkTM is, in turn, driving the need for continued innovation in coherent optical system design to encompass new features and capabilities and extend use cases to new areas of the network.

How is this influencing network equipment design? Addressing these features translates to different requirements for mechanical form, performance characteristics and number of modes depending on the application.  These requirements are falling into two primary application sets which drive development paths today: performance-optimized solutions targeting best system performance and footprint-optimized solutions targeted to fit into a specific form factor and power envelope. System designers who also do component-level design can apply the advances in foundational technologies to meet the challenges for these new application sets.

For several decades, CMOS chip designs – including DSPs for coherent modems – have benefited from greater amounts of functional integration over several generations.  They have also benefited from high-yield, high volume manufacturing of multiple copies of a chip processed on – and cut from – a silicon wafer.  The modem at the heart of a coherent optical system relies not just on the CMOS DSP, but also the accompanying electro-optical components to convert the electrical data signal to an optical one for fiber transmission.  Emerging requirements at the network and system level are converging with new wafer scale processing for key foundational technologies for electro-optics offering the benefits of greater circuit integration, performance and manufacturability.  Two process technologies underpin the electro-optical transmit and receive chains for today’s coherent systems: indium phosphide (InP) and silicon photonics (SiPhot). more>

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It’s not a digital transformation without a digital culture

By Erol User – Digital transformation is sweeping the business landscape. Leaders are embracing it wholeheartedly because they recognize its power. But as companies advance from pilot programs to wide-scale adoption, they often run into an unexpected obstacle: culture clash.

Being a digital organization means not only having digital products, services, and customer interactions but also powering core operations with technology. Becoming one, therefore, requires a tectonic change in the activities employees perform as well as in their individual behaviors and the ways they interact with others inside and outside the organization. Although it should come as no surprise that the traditional ways of working are incompatible with the new ways, it often does.

Leaders need to acknowledge digital transformation as the fundamental, strategic paradigm shift that it is. Like any major transformation, a digital transformation requires instilling a culture that supports the change while enabling the company’s overarching strategy.

Nearly 80% of the companies that focused on culture sustained strong performance. Culture comprises the values and characteristic set of behaviors that define how things get done in an organization. A healthy culture provides the guidelines—the tacit code of conduct—that steer individuals to act appropriately and make choices that advance the organization’s goals and strategy.

Digital organizations move faster than traditional ones, and their flatter hierarchy helps speed decision making. A digital culture serves as a code of conduct that gives employees the latitude to make judgment calls and on-the-spot decisions.

A healthy digital culture is a type of high-performance culture. To understand the essential elements of a digital culture, it helps to be aware of the three critical attributes of a high-performance culture.

First, employees and teams are engaged to achieve results: they are committed to their work and to the organization’s purpose and goals, and they are willing to go the extra mile. Second, individuals and teams work in ways that will advance the organization’s strategy. Third, the organizational environment, or “context”—including leadership, organization design, performance management, people-development practices, resources and tools, vision and values, and informal interactions—is set up to foster engagement and encourage behaviors that will advance the organization’s strategy.

Just as there is no universal strategy, there is no standard digital culture. Still, a digital culture typically has five defining elements:

  1. It promotes an external, rather than an internal, orientation
  2. It prizes delegation over control
  3. It encourages boldness over caution
  4. It emphasizes more action and less planning
  5. It values collaboration more than individual effort

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Updates from Ciena

Spotlight on 4G/5G fronthaul networks
Not sure what xHaul is or why it’s critical to the success of 5G? How should operators, MNOs and wholesalers alike, converge 4G and 5G fronthaul traffic onto a common transport network?
By Brian Lavallée – Ciena recently announced major additions and enhancements to our 5G Network Solutions, including three new routers optimized for the xHaul transport network, Network Slicing and Dynamic Planning enhancements to our Blue Planet Automation Software, and professional Services to help operators along their unique 4G to 5G journey. Not familiar with xHaul and why it’s absolutely critical to the success of 5G? Let me explain.

xHaul refers to fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul transport networks that interconnect cell sites to each other, to the core network, and ultimately to data centers, where accessed content is hosted. Why am I talking about data centers?

Well, video will represent 76% of all mobile traffic by 2025, and guess where most video content is located? You got it, at nearby and distant data centers, meaning the entire fixed wireline network between the Radio Access Network (RAN) and data centers must be upgraded to realize the full guaranteed end-to-end performance promise that 5G Network Slicing is expected to deliver. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) will use 5G Network Slicing to support three main categories of use-cases, each with its own network performance requirements:

  • enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which requires significant wireline capacity increases
  • massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC), which requires analytics-driven automation to optimally connect millions to billions more machines (think massive IoT)
  • ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC), which requires Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and deterministic packet-optical transport to achieve extremely low and deterministic latency targets

Why are these categories important? Because as data traverses the end-to-end network, across both the wireless and wireline domains, network operators must be able to guarantee a network slice’s performance over its entire lifecycle. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Why Adaptive is the biggest story in networking
The long-desired goal of network automation is coming closer to reality. Joe Cumello explains why autonomous networking alone is not enough, and introduces Ciena’s Adaptive Network™, which combines the right mixture of automation, intelligence, and scale that allows network operators to adapt in today’s constantly-shifting ecosystem.
By Joe Cumello – Next-gen, intelligent, flexible, automated, agile, optimized, programmable, elastic.

Our industry has been using these words for years to describe the end game for networks. With Ciena’s recent 25-year anniversary, we’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking back at the early days – and it seems like the entire industry has been using these aspirational network descriptions for as long as there have been networks.

Maybe 2018 is the year “aspirational” starts to become “actuality.”

Like no other time in our industry’s history, a collection of technologies and advancements is bringing the long-desired goal of a more automated network closer to reality.

And none too soon. Make your way out of the marketing slideware and into the cold reality of real network operations, and most service providers will tell you that much of their process is still too manual, with multiple network-management systems that require spreadsheets and offline planning tools to make even the simplest changes to the network.

Network operators do need greater automation to cope with the harsh realities of today’s environment. But “full automation,” or so-called “autonomous networking,” isn’t the complete answer they are seeking, because it’s now clear that today’s environment isn’t the same one they will face tomorrow. In this constantly-shifting ecosystem, automation alone will always have to be revised and reset.

It is with this challenge in view that Ciena brings the Adaptive Network to our customers. more>

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