Last month, I discussed the critical importance of wireline networks to the commercial success of 5G New Radios (NR), whose Non-Standalone standard that was approved late last December. This is because wireline networks are the glue that interconnects 5G radios (and previous generations of radios) to each other and to data centers, where your accessed content is physically hosted.

I also stated my firm belief that no one vendor can provide best-in-breed technology and products across both wireless and wireline domains from handsets to data centers, where most mobile data flows. This means, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) wanting to build the best end-to-end networks capable of delivering the best end-user quality of experience, they must choose best-in-breed products from multiple vendors and have them interop with each other.

Easier said than done, but the telecom industry is rapidly moving towards this philosophy of openness.

Open Ecosystem

Most vendors and MNOs understand the pressing need to adopt an openness philosophy when it comes to building large, complex, end-to-end networks, which means better collaboration across multiple likeminded partners. There are several industry initiatives already well underway to open and disaggregate networks allowing network operators to pick-and-choose from the best technology and products available.

Openness creates a much broader and more secure supply chain for MNOs and also results in improved innovation due to increased competition, which is good for everyone. At Ciena, we firmly believe in the openness philosophy, and have already developed an extensive ecosystem of technology partners to facilitate multi-vendor network designs.


The Government of Canada, along with the provinces of Ontario and Québec, today announced an exciting new initiative that will lay the groundwork for the first 5G pre-commercial network platform in Canada. The partnership known as the “Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Education Innovation”, or ENCQOR for short, is a $400M public-private partnership led by five global digital technology leaders – Ciena, Ericsson, CGI, IBM, and Thales and provincial coordinators Prompt, CEFRIO, and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)– with co-investments from the Canadian government and the provincial governments of Ontario and Québec. It will secure over 4,000 jobs, including 1,800 specialized 5G jobs, over the next five years leading to new innovations in wireless telecommunications.

This initiative will develop a world-class collaborative platform for accelerating the transition to game-changing 5G technology in Quebec, Ontario, and Canada by bringing together a wide network of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), industry, government, researchers and academia in both provinces to collaborate on the creation and commercialization of new and disruptive products, processes, and services.

Not bad, eh?

Ciena Puts the Wire in Wireline

5G is more than a wireless upgrade. Remember, most mobile network traffic is content streaming between smartphones and data centers, with the wireless part of the journey mostly between handsets and radios installed atop cell towers, sides of buildings, or just about anywhere.

The rest of your content’s journey is between the radios and data centers, where your accessed content resides, and it is the packet-optical wireline network that glues everything together in the background, silently and reliably. Given 4G will continue to coexist alongside 5G for the foreseeable future, wireline networks must evolve over time to support all favors of 4G (LTE, LTE-A, and LTE-A Pro) and 5G, for many years to come.

At Ciena openness has been an important part of our DNA and will continue to be. For example we recently introduced the Adaptive Network, which is designed with the principles of openness in mind, ensuring we are equipping our customers with solutions that break down complexity and allow them to rise to any business challenge.

We recognize that no one vendor can offer the best technology and products from handsets to data centers, and everything in between. This is why we’ve been working with partners for years to allow network operators to build best-in-breed networks, by enabling greater choice, and we look forward to working with our new ENCQOR partners going forward.

Want to learn more about the ENCQOR project? Visit their website here.

Don’t miss Ciena’s upcoming webinar "Preparing your wireline network for 5G" featuring Monica Paolini, founder and president of Senza Fili, where you can learn more about how a high-performance network is the glue that holds 5G together. Register here.