Bracing for the future with 4th-generation IP

Staff Writer
telecomasia.net

It’s no secret in the telecom space that the not-too-distant future of networks is packets. Everything will be connected, content will be in the cloud, and demand for bandwidth will be insatiable.

A recent Traffic and Market Data Report from Ericsson gives an indication of what’s coming. For example, Ericsson forecasts a tenfold increase in mobile data traffic by 2016, with almost five billion mobile broadband subscriptions (up from an estimated 900 million by the end of this year).

Also, smartphone usage is seeing tremendous growth. Traffic generated by advanced smartphones will increase 12-fold to roughly equal mobile PC-generated traffic by 2016. Across all devices, mobile data traffic is expected to grow by nearly 60% per year between 2011 and 2016, mainly driven by video.

If the obvious question is how to upgrade networks to cope with that future, the increasingly obvious answer is that it’s going to take more than just throwing bandwidth at it. Operators need to understand exactly how both fixed and mobile broadband networks are changing, how that change is being driven by users, and the impact that will have on packet network planning beyond just capacity requirements.

A good place to start, says Michael Stolpen, head of practice fixed broadband & convergence for Ericsson South East Asia & Oceania, is the users.

“The era of the ‘Networked Society’, where anything that can benefit from being connected will be connected, is creating a new type of user: the ‘cloud user’,” says Stolpen. “The cloud user wants the option of consuming content instantly through a variety of devices 24/7, regardless of location, with a common identity and high quality.”

That means that cloud users neither know nor care about the borders between fixed and mobile networks, Stolpen says. “That puts the operator in a challenging position, because the demands are accelerating. Mobility is the driving force behind the industry growth, so mobile networks must evolve and develop to match that demand. Just adding extra capacity to handle video traffic, for example, isn’t enough.”

As such, Ericsson argues, a new generation of networks, with “4th-generation IP”, is central to meeting the demands of these cloud users in the near to mid-term.

4th-generation IP explained

So just what does“4th-generation IP”(or 4 Gen IP, as Ericsson calls it) mean? Ericsson breaks it down to four network characteristics: smart, simple, scalable and offers superior performance.

“Smart networks means making the network aware of users, terminals, location and what types of content and services are running across it,” explains Stolpen. “We also have to make them simple by collapsing and consolidating some of the legacy technologies in the background of these networks – PDH, SDH, next-generation SDH, Ethernet, IP, etc.”

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