5G (the fifth generation of mobile networks) has been in development for many years. 5G technology is now being deployed around the world in 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) mode, where 5G New Radios are connected to existing 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) networks. As the 4G EPC evolves to a new and highly virtualized 5G Core network in 5G Standalone (SA) mode, expected improvements over current 4G LTE technology include:

  • Significantly faster data rates
  • Much lower latency
  • Guaranteed end-to-end network performance
  • Support for billions of ‘things’ such as sensors

With all this promise, there’s significant and ongoing action in the marketplace as network operators (mobile and wholesalers) ramp up investments to provide 5G technology and the increased performance required for a variety of new cases and applications leading to new revenue-generating opportunities.

5G is the next generation of mobile networks—promising significantly faster data rates, far lower latency, and network slicing.

As 5G standards are finalized, standards-compliant technology and associated products will soon follow, accelerating the adoption of 5G network connectivity.

However, transitions from one generation of mobile networks to another take a long time, meaning the 4G-to-5G transition will surely be a multi-year journey, and not a simple upgrade. The 4G rollout in the U.S. alone took almost a decade from initial conception to broad market availability. The same will be true with 5G, which will coexist with past generations (especially 4G) of mobile technology for many years.

This kind of shift is complex to plan, deploy, and manage. Mobile network infrastructure technology needs to be modernized—across both wireless and wireline domains. And consumers will need new smartphones to take advantage of new 5G capabilities that will allow subscribers to enjoy myriad new and exciting applications.

To ensure 5G works as expected, wireline networks that interconnect cell sites to each other, as well as data centers where accessed content is hosted, must also be modernized.

This is where Ciena’s expertise in wireline networks comes in—from radio towers to data centers and everything in between. Fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul transport networks (referred to as xHaul) will ultimately dictate the commercial success of 5G mobile services, as these transport networks interconnect the end-to-end mobile network.

Another trend accommodating the 5G transition is the move to Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN). These technologies and services are now permeating infrastructure around the world, helping wireline networks adapt and rapidly evolve in step with 5G developments. Intelligent automation will allow mobile network operators to address rapidly changing business challenges and opportunities.

Ciena’s product portfolio offers a flexible set of switching and routing platforms for service delivery and aggregation, designed to anticipate the demands of 5G operations. These purpose-built products contain costs and are quickly deployable and programmable for rapid service velocity. Ciena’s cell site routers leverage its unique Adaptive IP™ solution, and are specifically designed to facilitate differentiated services via end-to-end network slicing provided by its Blue Planet software portfolio. To ensure simpler, cost-effective networks, xHaul traffic is unified onto a converged and cost-effective transport network.

These open, standards-based solutions improve mobile and wholesale network operators’ ability to confidently deploy, provision, and manage cost-effective 4G and 5G services that offer scalability, reliability, QoS, and agile service management. Combined, these service features significantly accelerate and intelligently automate scalable wireline network connectivity. And, since each network operator is on their own unique 4G-to-5G journey, Ciena also offers a broad suite of professional services to facilitate and de-risk the path along any mobile or wholesale operator’s unique journey, regardless of their chosen start and end points.