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Here’s How Network Operators Can Handle the 100x Explosion in Bandwidth Expected with 5G and Fiber Deep Deployments

portrait of Fady Masoud

April 14, 2020
By Fady Masoud
Director, Solutions Marketing

Major sporting events have always been a challenge for wireless operators due to the huge number of people in one place. While the competitive heat may be on, with plenty of action taking place on the field, it’s impossible not to notice how many spectators are communicating in real time over social networking platforms. Many even hold their smartphones aloft to capture the excitement, live-streaming high-quality footage over current 4G networks.

To put things into perspective, live-streaming an HD video typically consumes 5 megabits per second (Mb/s), while broadcasting in 4K is five times higher at 25 Mb/s. Multiply this number by the total number of individuals live-streaming and you’ll quickly realize the order of magnitude of the strain this puts on the network.

No matter what type of wireless and optical infrastructure is in place, these crowded events often cause network congestion and slowdowns due to the limited capacity to aggregate traffic from the cell towers to the rest of the optical network.

The world is on the verge of the widespread deployment and commercialization of 5G, with the first “5G Superbowl” having taken place earlier this year, and this new fifth-generation wireless is expected to be 100 times faster than the existing 4G network. This demands a 10-fold increase in access network capacity, in addition to an increase in the number of endpoints by five to 10 times.

Network operators’ traffic aggregation challenges are far from being history – those challenges with only be exacerbated with this unprecedented demand for capacity, unless a new, disruptive technology that is ready for the 5G era can be used.

Traffic aggregation challenges have existed since the inception of optical networking due to a significant misalignment between actual traffic patterns and the technology used to transport that traffic. Network traffic patterns, particularly in metro networks, are overwhelmingly hub and spoke – i.e., numerous endpoints generate traffic that is aggregated by a small number of hub locations. In contrast, optical connectivity solutions have been implemented using strictly point-to-point technology.

The result is an extremely inefficient transport architecture that requires large numbers of bookended transceivers, as well as numerous intermediate aggregation devices to “up-speed” traffic flows.

This is about to change with the introduction of XR optics.

As discussed in a previous blog post, XR optics leverages the latest innovation in Nyquist subcarriers to enable a single transceiver to generate numerous lower-speed subcarriers that can be independently steered to different destinations in an optical network. The benefits are game-changing.

As a matter of fact, joint network modeling exercises with network operators have shown potential total cost of ownership savings of up to 75% over five years when using XR optics rather than conventional point-to-point traffic aggregation methods.

The savings are achieved through a dramatic reduction in the number of transceivers, more efficient utilization of routers and switches, the elimination of intermediate packet aggregation sites, ongoing operational expense reductions (power consumption, footprint, truck rolls, etc.), and finally the ability to dynamically scale endpoint capacity without the need for network re-engineering or site visits.

XR optics continues to create a “wow factor” with network operators due to its innovative, game-changing benefits and its ability to solve a problem that has perplexed aggregation network operators for over 50 years.

Infinera recently announced that we are working closely with an ecosystem of partners to collaborate on technology development to bring a new class of XR optics-based, interoperable coherent optical transceivers to market and broaden their industry application and use cases.

This collaboration with two industry leaders in designing and manufacturing innovative optical and photonic products and modules, II-VI and Lumentum, is another proof point of the potential of XR optics as an innovative and disruptive technology that network operators can greatly benefit from.

As the industry continues its progress in bringing XR optics to market and reshaping the way traffic is aggregated in the era of 5G, the concept behind the technology will continue to wow more customers eager to solve metro aggregation challenges once and for all.

Dive in for more details on how XR optics can make your traffic aggregation problems a thing of the past.