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.