For those of us who are passionate about broadband, 2022 was truly unprecedented. Productivity was in hyper-drive as a record number of new applications emerged that pushed the need for faster and better broadband performance. Governments globally continued to step-up with subsidies to help roll out hyper-fast broadband services to bridge the digital divide and upgrade communications networks; while supplementary private capital also ramped-up its availability for broadband service provider investment.
Given this springboard, 2023 will be a year of accelerated change buoyed by a generational upgrade cycle. 10 Gigabit Passive Optical Networking (PON) and 5G software-driven networks will be the networks of choice.
To address this confluence of drivers, service providers will have to rethink not only how they architect their networks, but how and where they choose to invest in their infrastructure and operations. Strategic transformation will be paramount, and the speed of change will determine who the winners and losers will be in the long run.
There are a handful of significant trends that will emerge over the next several months as service providers navigate their transformation and seek to find their Competitive EDGE. In this two-part series, I will explore some of these trends. Part 1 will focus on the increasing shift to multi-gigabit services, the growing importance of the network edge and how service providers are being transformed into “experience providers”.
- Multi-Gigabit Broadband Services are Becoming the New Standard – The shift to gigabit services was both widespread and well suited for Gigabit Passive Optical Networking (GPON) However, new advanced applications will require symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds. The proliferation of multiple devices using these bandwidth-hungry apps is pushing service providers to begin to think 10 gig services and beyond for both business and residential services. The emergence of the metaverse, with Ultra High Definition (UHD) Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Extended Reality (AR/VR/XR) and gaming applications will continue push these boundaries.
- The Network Edge Continues to Rise as a Strategic Location – The rise of 10 Gigabit Symmetrical (XGS)-PON and multi-gigabit services that support the above mentioned applications and more is creating new challenges in the network – especially as these apps require symmetrical bandwidth. Service providers realize that they must push equipment as close to the subscriber as possible to optimize traffic management, but also to minimize latency, which is becoming increasingly important in the world of the metaverse and AR/VR/XR apps. Additionally, leveraging intelligence at the edge moves it closer to where data is actually created and consumed and where the subscriber experience is defined giving service providers increased agility in monitoring, managing and optimizing performance.
- Service Providers are Rapidly Transforming into Experience Providers – As the network becomes increasingly software defined and intelligent equipment is deployed closer to the edge, the ability for carriers to both gather meaningful information that can reflect and provide actionable insights into user experience grows dramatically. As a result, the concept of a true “experience provider” is emerging where subscriber problems can be anticipated and proactively addressed, and user needs can be addressed remotely and immediately in an extraordinarily personalized manner. This transformation is proving to have profound impacts on carrier performance, with dramatically reduced churn, faster responsiveness, better performance, and higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).
In Part 2 of this blog, I will highlight the increased strategic value of in-place network upgrades, how hardened coherent optics are redefining the economics of optical transport, how Artificial Intelligence (AI)will play an increasingly pivotal role in optimizing both network efficiency and the subscriber experience and why the Open RAN (O-RAN) movement will continue to gain steam.