One connection, infinite possibilities
Only a true next-generation network can deliver on the bandwidth needs of tomorrow
Many players in the communications market talk up their services as ‘next generation’. In reality, though, not all ‘next-generation’ networks turn out to be as forward looking as they first appear, with many still carrying legacy elements at their core. What then does a real next-generation network look like? What should the business customers of a network operator really be checking for?
A next-generation services offer needs ideally to be based on Ethernet, over a fibre network and running on an IP core, believes Terry Canning, senior vice president with Rogers Business Solutions, a division of Canadian network operator Rogers Communications that is focussed on the enterprise and wholesale services market.
It takes a network that is well on the way to being free of all legacy features to meet upcoming voice and data communications needs, he claims. Only with a true next-generation services portfolio can network operators hope to satisfy the growing demands of customers, says Canning.
“There’s an insatiable appetite for bandwidth among our customers, especially larger enterprises and major carriers, which is translating into demand for Ethernet services,” he explains. “The reason is that Ethernet is just so straightforward – there is really hardly any complexity left in it.”
Ethernet, he says, works brilliantly over fibre, but also permits the delivery of services over other types of infrastructure. “Our network is based on fibre, but as a communications company we also have lots of coax,” he explains. “With DOCSIS technology, this can offer very high performance. Then there’s Ethernet over wireless using 6GHz spectrum, probably the next big thing. Don’t forget we’re a wireless company too.”
The beauty of Ethernet, for Canning, is that it is truly transport-agnostic: “This means that what you can do with wireless is similar to what you can do with cable services,” he says. “For example, wireless voice services using Ethernet means no more dropped calls or scratchy audio quality – important as demand for quality grows. As wireless moves to LTE, we will see Ethernet spread further over existing wireless infrastructure.”
The next step for the Ethernet services market, says Canning, is true, seamless global standards for wide area Ethernet connectivity. “Our customers want to get to places where we don’t necessarily have a network,” he says.
Another challenge for network operators, he argues, is to keep on building out to where the business customer truly needs connectivity, these days likely to be not just in the obvious metro areas, but in out of town locations too. “The evolution of the cloud means that businesses are moving out to the suburbs, and so are the data centres that house their information,” explains Canning. “We have density in these areas, thanks to our history in cable. We can address multipoint, wide area
needs that can’t be managed by legacy networks. We’re a forward looking business.”
To stay forward looking, says Andy Striegler, vice president of carrier alliances with Rogers Business Solutions, the company is continually looking to grow, by both organic and acquisitive means in order to extend its already nationwide footprint.
“We’re already a facilities-based provider of converged next-generation Ethernet services for the whole of Canada,” he says. “We’ve got the most advanced network in the country. We’ve spent $500 million growing a next-generation Ethernet footprint, building towards the future. We’ve just launched a service portal too, for ease of ordering from us. It’s a good way to do business.”
As part of its expansion strategy, Rogers has recently announced an intention to acquire Atria Networks. The acquisition will add one of Ontario’s largest fibre-optic networks to the Rogers footprint.
Although focussed on delivering next-generation services, Rogers is no newcomer to the high performance network market. “We built an IP network before it was even called an IP network,” claims Canning. “Next generation to us means an all- IP network with Ethernet as the carrier. It’s a universal platform to connect any business.”
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