“Fiber densification is crucial to prepare the networks for 5G”

Voice&Data: What are your offerings for Indian telcos as they plan to deploy and start test-beds for 5G deployment?

Ryan Perera: The 5G technology is unlike any previous GSM technology because it is not just about enhanced speed. It comes with a unique combination of ultra-high speed and extremely low latency, which enables many innovative use cases, including autonomous driving, remote surgery, and connected things, amongst others.

The move to 5G is much more than radio upgrade and demands that the telcos move from hardware-centric networks to a software-focused network infrastructure.

Ciena’s portfolio of 5G solutions includes the following:

  • With our 5G Network Solutions, the service providers can benefit from Blue Planet to manage, control and Multi-Domain Service Orchestration software for end-to-end SDN-based network control including L0 to L3 Route Optimization & Assurance (ROA) capabilities obtained from the recent acquisition of Packet Design for improved IP network designs, operation, and management, from end to end.

Service-Aware Operating System (SAOS) enhanced with IP capabilities targeted at specific high-growth applications covering 5G – Based on a streamlined, modular, open, and highly programmable IP architecture, Ciena’s SAOS empowers providers via an ‘Adaptive IP’ approach. This improves service velocity, shortens time-to-revenue, and enables an adaptive network to best address evolving end-user network service requirements for existing, new, and emerging applications with a highly differentiated quality of service.

  • Our Converged Packet Optical and Packet Networking platforms support 4G/5G converged fronthaul/midhaul networks offering digital radio transport over standards-based Ethernet
  • Our solutions provide programmable Network Slicing capabilities that enable the service providers to partition and virtualize the networks in keeping with their demand.

Besides our proven technology products and solutions, we leverage learnings and insights from our global presence and experience to provide best-in-class services to enable timely deployment in keeping with the business vision of the telco.

Voice&Data: How ready and steady is the 5G technology – for networks as well as for devices and handsets?

Ryan Perera: The first set of standards were released in December last year. The standards will continue to be released in phases till 2020. The telcos across the globe including India are conducting many trials and pilots to accelerate the deployment of 5G. Regarding devices, several 5G smartphones and devices are scheduled to be launched in the coming year.

Voice&Data: Is moving to 5G going to be a big ticket investment for the telcos?

Ryan Perera: The Indian telcos’ commitment to upgrade the networks for a robust 4G services is a positive step towards 5G. With the growing consumption of mobile broadband, the telcos are realizing the need to upgrade the backhual infrastructure. As more than 80% of internet traffic will be video, which will be generated, consumed and served at the edge of the network. And because the user experience must remain high for 4G/5G networks, the network edge will become the new battleground of Indian telecom.

Fiber densification is crucial to prepare the networks for 5G. As of now only 15% of the Indian networks are fibred, and massive fiber densification in the access layer will be crucial to the successful commercialization of 5G. Essentially as the data requirements on mobile network grow the service providers will need to deploy more base stations, which will need to be connected by fiber and Ethernet. We believe Indian service providers will be deploying as many as 400,000 base stations in the next two years. The network edge is more of a real estate issue than a technology issue; you need 100,000s of locations. In India, 60-70% of operator Capex goes into the access segment of the network. To address this, customers need scale (high-density, small-footprint solutions); convergence (integrated optics and pluggables onto platforms); and a small set of routing capabilities, and finally they need automation and intelligence to orchestrate their networks.

Adoption of Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is going to be crucial for agile and adaptive networks empowering the telcos to launch newer services faster. With many technologies, including 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G in future, existing at the same time, virtualization will help in simplification and better management of the networks.

The Indian telecom service providers have a long road ahead to meet the requirement of 5G. The Indian networks need to be overhauled to harness the possibilities of the 5G technology.

Voice&Data: What new revenue streams and additional ARPUs do you think 5G will create for telcos?

Ryan Perera: 5G will enable the telcos to come up with many innovative services like augmented reality, virtual reality, modernization of public safety infrastructure and more. It offers immense opportunities and we are limited only by our imagination.

The economic impact of 5G is expected to be over $1 Trillion. The multiplier effect will be much more, and it will act as a transformational force for the society at all levels. Potentially it can enable a developing country like India to leapfrog traditional barriers to physical infrastructure to bridge the gap between the digital and economic divide.

Voice&Data: Which according to you will be sectors/verticals that will be the early adopters of 5G based solutions from telcos?

Ryan Perera: The upcoming 5G technology is going to be transformational and has a number of use cases in almost all the business verticals. The Indian Government is focusing on developing use cases in education, healthcare, agriculture and banking. From enabling multimedia learning, remote surgery, crop analytics, and smart manufacturing, 5G allows a number of use cases in many industry verticals. The enterprises will be the early adopters of 5G-based solutions.

Voice&Data: By when do you hope to see commercial roll-out of 5G in India?

Ryan Perera: The Indian Government is proactively taking a number of measures to drive the early 5G deployment in the country. The Government has issued the guidelines and the roadmap recentlyand has also invited various OEMs to conduct 5G trials. The Government will provide spectrum and other support for these trials. With the Government’s push, there is a strong possibility that India will see the early commercial rollout of 5G.

The country hopes to roll out 5G services by 2020 and has formed a special advisory panel led by the Telecommunications Secretary to develop a roadmap for 5G. The Government also supports a 5G test bed at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Gyanendra Mohan Rashali


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