Is a Terabit enough?By Derek Cassidy,
New submarine cables are being laid across oceans capable of carrying the next generation in optical engineering capacity. At the same time, existing undersea cables are being engineered to carry these new 100GbE optical channels. But will the deployment of the multiple terabits of bandwidth be enough to meet growing bandwidth demands?
Online commercial activity and particularly the development of video and music streaming services led to internet connectivity and demand growing faster in 2015 compared to 2014. The biggest increase has been in Africa and the Middle East. The highest accessibility rates are in North America followed by Europe and Australia, then other first-world countries.
Existing submarine networks and terrestrial systems are the backbone of the internet. While they are coping in the short term, there is a feeling within the industry that the increase in demand will soon outstrip available capacity. There are many reasons for this.
The Internet of Things (IOT) takes the internet far beyond the traditional interconnected devices, such as the laptop, smartphone and tablet, to encompass any device with an IP address. There are already around 6.3 billion connected devices operating under the IoT umbrella, and, according to Gartner, it could increase to 20.7 billion devices by 2020.
Fixing the problem
All of this creates monumental demand on available bandwidth that will affect both terrestrial and submarine network operators and providers. They will have to increase their bandwidth offering to ensure prevention of any failure in capacity provision.
The introduction of new submarine networks with multiple terabit transmission systems offer a short term “get out of jail card” for most network operators. They can avail of these services to provide the bandwidth needed for the increase in internet traffic.
Another way forward is enabling organisations to control their bandwidth usage more effectively. While there will always be business critical applications that demand quality of service (QoS) guarantees that eat up capacity, there are other applications running over MPLS bandwidth that could be redirected over the public internet.
The idea of intelligent networks that maximise bandwidth usage will move to a whole other level as software-defined networks move into the mainstream. Capacity planning and optimising traffic will become much easier with features like dynamic path control.
New models needed
The hard fact of life, however, is that existing next-generation networks (NGN), providing high data transmission services and capacity, are at their maximum limits and may not be able to cope to with ever-increasing demand. Network operators and providers will have to look at new deployment strategies and models, enabling them to compete and cope with the increasing demand for bandwidth.
The telecommunications industry has to design, re-design, and further develop networks to ensure it can handle the ongoing growth in demand. We are already seeing some evidence of this with the submarine networks capable of delivering multiple terabits and connecting Europe to the Americas, Africa and the Far East. The tentacles of these networks are being strengthened with increased capacity, but it remains to be seen, is a Terabit enough.