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Generating new revenues with high-speed services.

TODAY'S independent local exchange carriers (ILECs) have a great opportunity to leverage their residential consumer base to deliver emerging multimedia broadband services such as video on demand (VoD), gaming and music downloads as a means of growing their competitive telecom revenue. In the past, business services tended to comprise the bulk of network traffic, but now it is evident that consumer or residential services will overtake enterprises as the primary source of network traffic. In fact, the traffic levels being observed today are just the start of the traffic profiles likely to be encountered in the future. For example, CIMI Corp. Analyst Tom Nolle believes that by 2010, consumers will outspend businesses by 3:1, and will generate 90% of the offered load on the public networks in the United States [figure 1]. [??] While the promise of high-speed services is great, the actual delivery of these services brings with it some crucial business and technical challenges. For example, while the continuing decrease in the unit cost of network bandwidth is driving the move toward high-value multimedia services, the decline in the barriers to entry is increasing competition and driving price reductions.

Another challenge is that the types of services carriers will have to deliver--and therefore the very nature of their network traffic--will evolve over time. It is expected that initially, the bulk of traffic will be generated by broadcast and multicast services, such as IPTV or Pay-Per-View (PPV). However, traffic will become increasingly dominated by interactive services like VoD, gaming and high-definition personal videoconferencing. The variability in how and when consumers experience content will push the increasing demand for consumer-based storage devices such as media-center PCs, personal video recorders, iPods and even cellular phones. Further complicating matters is the fact that VoD services will need to be delivered to consumers in streaming, buffered and downloaded service models, tailored to a combination of the consumer service request and the terminal or storage device's capabilities.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

To keep network efficiency high, and capital and operational costs low as they leverage the consumer multimedia explosion, service providers will need to be able to deliver these high-bandwidth, high-value services--whether they are delivered to the consumer via wireline broadband or a fixed/mobile convergence strategy--all from a single network infrastructure.

In the case of wireline broadband, there are indicators that each user soon will expect some form of broadband data connection that can support the simultaneous delivery of multiple consumer multimedia services. In addition, they will need significant bandwidth for high definition applications such as HDTV--for live viewing or for storage to one or more consumer-based storage devices.

If we look at one operator's business model, the new digital home may require 20 Mbit/s today, migrating upwards to 30 Mbit/s-100 Mbit/s over time. Fortunately, service providers have a range of commercial access technologies, including xDSL, xPON and active Ethernet, to enable the delivery of this scale of bandwidth to the new digital home (see figure 2). Wireless technology also is advancing to increase the service bandwidth delivered to wireless attached devices so that Mbit/s speeds also will become normal, further increasing the traffic loads on operators' infrastructures.

The resulting increases in bandwidth requirements dictate a new approach to network planning. As an example, when operators consider launching new services, business cases often are based on a working assumption of user penetration of 35-40% in a particular geographic area. VoD is a unicast per-viewer channel, so this level of penetration will result in the generation of high traffic loads by the users in this geographic area, especially if high-definition content is available, all of which may be high Quality of Service (QoS) that establish dynamic paths to application delivery platforms deeper inside the operator's networks.

Further, the increasing demand for consumer multimedia services requires Ethernet traffic to be carried through the network and delivered deep into the access network to a dramatically increasing number of service delivery points--both wireless and wireline--that have never before handled this amount of bandwidth.

To accommodate this accelerated development, and to handle ubiquitous consumer multimedia service delivery, operators are beginning to recognize an emerging need for a cost-effective, flexible and scalable network infrastructure, with the capability of providing deterministic high-QoS Gigabit Ethernet (Gig E) delivery to support stringent service-level agreement requirements.

Agile Optical Networking

One approach that is gaining popularity among service providers of all types is the deployment of agile optical networking solutions. This is because an end-to-end managed wavelength-based agile optical networking infrastructure provides the bandwidth scalability, cost-points and resiliency necessary to deliver nonstop services, which are essential for any service provider competing in the broadband multimedia market.

Because service providers must have complete flexibility in terms of topology and technology migration, any agile optical networking solution they deploy must provide support for multiple topologies. This will enable the cost-effective deep penetration of fiber into the access network, which in turn enables service delivery close to the subscriber.

Not only must the network support all current topology options (mesh, ring and linear), it must be able to adapt topologies as needs dictate. Additionally, the agile optical networking solution must support both Coarse Wavelength Division Multiplexing (CWDM) and Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) on the same network elements, provide a seamless migration strategy for investment protection and support legacy services to maintain existing customers and revenues.

Case Study

Recently, an independent network operator wished to expand its service offerings with a consumer multimedia VoD service to drive new revenues and to satisfy a demand by its customer base. However, adding VoD services delivery to its existing network presented a number of challenges.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

To accommodate the increased traffic volume created by the VoD service, Gig E transport would be required to an increasing number of service delivery points, which would mean adding capacity to SONET OC-12 rings. To address this issue, along with a practical fiber constraint issue, the operator evaluated SONET and WDM based offerings. The service provider examined a number of available solutions based on:

* bandwidth enablement

* overall solution cost

* ability to support a wider service selection and increased customer service penetration

* topology and technology flexibility, including support for network expansion

After a thorough evaluation, the operator chose to deploy an agile optical networking solution that provided:

* scalability and future-proofing: by using an optical wavelength-based solution, the operator cost-effectively expanded the bandwidth potential of its network while ensuring support for new services and protocols along with its legacy SONET infrastructure

* efficient capacity: the ability to deliver current and future full-rate Gig E services without impacting its existing SONET investment

* network flexibility: the operator has a fully managed optical wavelength network that can be extended to support a regional network expansion

* DWDM/CWDM transport & switching: the ability to carry both CWDM & DWDM over the same fiber infrastructure, and terminate it using the same network elements, ensures that the operator has the flexibility to implement the optimal solution for the near term and then adapt as those needs change, such as increasing Gig E bandwidth requirements.

The result is that this carrier now has a low-cost solution that is helping it exceed revenue and profitability objectives through the delivery of new high-speed services.

Today, ILECs have the opportunity to deliver an ever-increasing number of high-value multimedia services as a means of growing their revenues and addressing the demands of their customer base. A wavelength-based agile optical networking solution can form the basis of a cost-effective, flexible and scalable unified network infrastructure, capable of providing deterministic high-QoS Gig E delivery to support ubiquitous consumer multimedia services along with revenue-producing legacy services.

Nick Cadwgan is director of product marketing for Meriton Networks. He can be reached at nick.cadwgan@meriton.com.
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Author:Cadwgan, Nick
Publication:Rural Telecommunications
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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