In today’s networks, growth is expressed in powers of ten. For access, 1G is the new 100M; for aggregation, 10G is the new 1G; and the data load builds up, pushing for 100G multiples in the core. It is a universal phenomenon, impacting from the largest Tier-1 global providers to local rural players. Although each network may start with different traffic volumes, they are all impacted by the same 10x pace ferocity. The user and application requirements are shifting radically, the same household or branch that ten years ago was satisfied with 10Mbps access, in the last few years migrated to 100Mbps and is now moving to 1Gbps - if not yet, as soon as there is a cost-effective offer to allow so.

For access, 1G is the new 100M; for aggregation, 10G is the new 1G; and the data load builds up, pushing for 100G multiples in the core.

According to most recent FCC data on the number of fixed internet connections in the US, those with at least 100Mbps have been growing at an impressive compound rate of 54% a year, whereas the total number of connections is quite stable, growing at only 3% a year. In June 2017, 28% of the fixed connections were already 100Mbps and above, and 85% 10Mbps and higher. 

Pressure for more bandwidth goes way beyond the users craving

The pervasive cloud with anything-as-a-service is creating new flows of data, while applications are increasingly hungrier, trying to deliver a better user experience. The progress of video applications illustrates this process well: according to Sandvine’s Global Internet Phenomena report, video accounts for almost 58% of the total downstream volume of internet traffic in 2018, the hiking video data volume combines the consolidation of the cloud distribution model – the streaming – with the evolution of the quality standards – from SD to HD and 4K. Netflix, that alone accounted for nearly 15% of the downstream global internet traffic in 2018, grew its customer base 12-fold from 2009 to 2019 (approximately 12M to 140M), while its recommended broadband connection speed climbed from 1.5Mbps to 25Mbps to cope with the evolving resolution.

If growing an infrastructure tenfold was not a hard-enough challenge, imagine doing this on quicksand.

If growing an infrastructure tenfold was not a hard-enough challenge, imagine doing this on quicksand. That is what regional service providers face with the price erosion on the leased line market. Ciena analysis of market data from TeleGeography for wave services prices in North America in 2018 and 2017 show that the average price for 100Gbps Ethernet over DWDM (EoDWDM) fell 30% to 50% in one year, depending on the route. For the 10Gbps links, the average erosion was between 10% and 30%, while for 1Gbps the price decrease averaged 10%. An impressive finding is that total prices for 10Gbps EoWDM are only slightly higher than those for 1Gbps EoMPLS (20% to 50%). It means that, on a cost-per-bit basis, this step from 1Gbps to 10Gbps represents a price drop of more than 80%. 

New options for satiating growing demand cost effectively

Rethinking one’s infrastructure to deliver more for less requires a creative approach. Ripping and replacing everything is usually costly, lengthy and disruptive. And besides CAPEX, there are critical opportunities to optimize OPEX through more intelligent provisioning and management. As the pressure for capacity manifests differently in each network segment, regional service providers need to prioritize high-utilization paths and look for ways to leverage existing infrastructure as much as possible to minimize budget impact. Traditional WAN upgrade methods require larger ports on switches and routers, adding complexity and high costs that make it less sustainable as a long-term growth approach. 

A cost-efficient alternative, gaining momentum among regional service providers, is to introduce alien wavelength capabilities over existing photonic systems. This approach allows for considerable savings of CAPEX/OPEX compared to upgrading router interfaces and brings increased flexibility to the pace and reach of the growth. Service providers may want to migrate from 10G to 100G or have requirements for a mix of traffic rates – some 10G and some 100G – and growth needs may change over time.

Ciena’s Waveserver Ai offers the capability to increase bandwidth over existing line systems through alien wavelengths. With pay-as-you-grow licensing, zero-touch provisioning and open APIs, it is a great fit to regional service providers with small engineering teams.

Learn more about how Waveserver Ai can scale to meet your cloud networking requirements and accelerate your time to revenue here or by contacting Ciena.

Chalk Talk Video: Waveserver Ai