Preparing for net neutrality

09 September 2014 | Chris Champion

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Chris Champion

Blog Author | Infinera; Senior Vice President, sales, EMEA


The net neutrality debate is once again rearing its head. As cloud, video and mobile continue to drive bandwidth demand, carriers are left in a difficult position on how to best manage network access.

The net neutrality debate is once again rearing its head. As cloud, video and mobile continue to drive bandwidth demand, carriers are left in a difficult position on how to best manage network access.

The main issue centres around whether it should be controlled by services providers – with some taking the view that heavy users should have their bandwidth throttled while others believe that all traffic should be treated equally.

Unfortunately, the rapid growth of online video usage, online gaming and other popular bandwidth-intensive applications will only exacerbate the situation. Recently, a number of key sporting events highlighted just how big our appetite for bandwidth is. This summer, the FIFA World Cup tournament set new records for data streaming, as football fans worldwide tuned in to support their teams. The United States vs Belgium match attracted 5.3 million viewers in the US alone. Last year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament was viewed by 6.8 million people online.

This sporting fever has also helped fuel the rapid adoption of "second screens". Approximately 40% of tablet owners are now browsing online while watching TV, putting further strain on the fibre in the ground.

While the debate rages on, the race for service providers to futureproof their networks is just beginning. In the absence of a firm decision around net neutrality, service providers need to prepare themselves for whatever the outcome may be.

By looking to innovative technologies, service providers can ensure their network is ready. Core network traffic is increasing at a rate of 40% year-on-year; therefore a long-haul transmission technology that will deliver scalable, cost-effective capacity without compromising on optical reach is ideal. The answer: super-channels.

This super-channel revolution in Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) combines optical carriers to create a single channel – typically delivering bandwidth in multiples of 100Gbps – that operates as the maximum data rate. With quicker access to the spectral capacity that coherent transmission delivers, operators can scale up DWDM without scaling operations.

So by transporting large volumes of video data in bulk via super-channels, operators can ensure their customers can access all the content they need without deploying new fibre or incurring huge costs.