By Dr Eslambolchi, CEO, CyberFlow Analytics
The relentless growth in data consumption is driven by growing demand for voluminous video-based big data, for real-time and time-critical fast data and for remotely stored anywhere data that is transported to wherever the user is.
Broadband is a “two-headed monster,” — one head facing ever-faster access networks with the rollout of LTE, multi-user WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) and long-reach fiber, the other head facing the core, with cloud-hosted functions, OTT-TV broadcasting and streaming video distribution that generate even more heavy traffic. This is especially true with Ultra high definition (4K TV) streaming or broadcast or even super ultra-high definition content (16K).
Everything in the network must gear up to the inevitable yottabyte future. There is a sense of looming crisis of spectrum crunching, so unused spectrum must be reclaimed, and new spectrum ranges must be licensed. It is a crisis that demands increasing capacity at an alarming rate, so every last byte should be squeezed from existing infrastructure via performance and asset management. Most importantly, this crisis means finding ways of combining heterogeneous network technologies, such as Carrier Ethernet and Optical Wireless Broadband, and utilizing legacy as well as advanced networks, such as Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) and Optical Transport Network.
These pressing requirements explain, perhaps, the great interest in Carrier SDN (Software Defined Network) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization) as well as the cloud. SDN and NFV are complementary technologies that usher in greater automation via virtualization, which is essential for complex network and massive traffic. They decouple hardware from networked functions, allowing more cost effective deployment and multi-vendor integration.
However, these yottabyte “saviors” are also the culprits – SDN/NFV send data to different server locations, wherever the virtualized functions have been assigned to a real server, and remotely stored data has to be transmitted to the device every time instead of used locally. Cloud data is also sent across to multiple data centers for safe-keeping. Hence, the monster remains hungry and data volumes continue to spiral up. At the same time, users’ expectations of uninterrupted, high quality service are growing too.
Availability of faster data, not just bigger data, encourages the unprecedented demand for video streaming and real-time transmission. What LTE (Wireless Based Technology) provides in increased speed, Voice over LTE provides in smarter ways of satisfying customer preferences and on-demand OTT (Over the Top) video. Perceptions are also all-important for Service Level Agreement (SLA) management, with real-time response to network events, pre-empting problems before users notice them.
Analyzing what happens in the network now means processing huge amounts of network information. Therefore, more powerful, dynamic network management and analytics tools are required, which can be run, for example, at the cell tower, not just at the core, and provide a dynamic view of how customers’ services actually perform.
The next generation of 5G and perhaps 6G standards should focus on methods of overcoming yottabyte issues. You may see “yottamen,” armed with a pioneering spirit, who will build DIY (Do it Yourself) broadband connections to remote co-operative communities and find novel ways of re-engineering fiber conduits.
More likely, though, 5G and perhaps next super generation wireless evolution to 6G will bring enhanced methods of utilizing the spectrum, say through cognitive radios, methods of increasing density by smaller cells, more powerful handover and collaborative outdoors WiFi, compression-as-you-need-it that responds to congestion situations and generally performance improvements.
No one knows how fast and how far this data monster will travel in future, so all we can do is stay just a few steps ahead. IP Data growth is like our solar system and will expand for many decades to come at an incalculable rate, similar to how fast the universe is expanding, and that creates an environment hungry for innovation in both the business and consumer space for many years to come.