In the end of 2015 there were 3.2 billion people online. 67% of Americans now have broadband at home, compared to 70% in 2013, and 13% connect via smartphone only vs 8% in 2013; smartphone penetration in US at 68%. The share of Americans with broadband at home has plateaued, and more rely only on their smartphones for online access. We can see downtick in home high-speed adoption has taken place at the same time there has been an increase in “smartphone-only” adults – those who own a smartphone that they can use to access the internet, but do not have traditional broadband service at home. The American broadband market is notoriously oligopolistic with the majority of citizens offered limited choice, especially at the high-speed end, complete with high monthly fees.
Fixed Internet speeds increase – even without fiber to every house. We will start to see more 1Gbps Internet connections – and not all of them need fiber (2014 was the year of “fiber everywhere”). For example Comcast ‘rolls out’ ‘world’s first’ DOCSIS 3.1 modem, pumping 1Gbps over existing cable. It should, in theory, be quick and easy to get 1Gbps broadband to your home using DOCSIS 3.1, but I expect we will see only very few experimental roll-outs of the service in 2016. The beauty of DOCSIS 3.1 is that it is backwards compatible.
Mobile networks continue to lead the way when it comes to connecting people for the next generation of communications: Mobile subscriptions are now at 7.1 billion globally, and more than 95% of the world’s population are now within reach of a mobile network signal. Mobile cellular subscriptions have overtaken fixed phone subs, mobile broadband subscriptions and households with Internet access. This development most probably causes expectations that Network jobs are hot so salaries are expected to rise in 2016 as especially wireless network engineers, network admins, and network security pros are needed.
There are still some 350 million people globally who have no way of Internet access, mobile or otherwise, and there will be some race to get connections to at least some of those people. High stakes in broadband satellites race as building a satellite network and associated ground-based facilities and user terminals to provide Internet access to even the remotest and poorest parts of the world will be a huge technical, regulatory, and business challenge. Data versions of low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellite networks started appearing in the late 1990’s, followed with mobile telephony via LEO satellites, but never managed to deliver on the hype—partly because of technology constraints or poor business models. Over years there have been huge technology advances in satellites: they can now be made much smaller and lighter, so launch costs are significantly lower. Also component costs associated with the different terminals and handsets have plummeted. These factors have clearly helped the business proposition, but there are still challenges.
There will be new radio frequencies available for wireless communications thanks to WRC-15 Spectrum Decisions: In addition to confirming the use of the 700 MHz band (technically 694 to 790 MHz) for mobile broadband services in ITU Region 1, which includes Europe, Africa, the Middle east and Central Asia, delegates also agreed to harmonize 200 MHz of the C-band (3.4 to 3.6 GHz) to improve capacity in urban areas and used in small cells, and the L-band (1427-1518 MHz) to improve overall coverage and better capacity. So the mobile broadband sector now has, at least in the short to medium term, three globally harmonized bands. There was also decision for spectrum to be used for wireless avionics intra-communications (WAIC).
5G gets started. Just five years after the first 4G smartphone hit the market, the wireless industry is already preparing for 5G: cell phone carriers, smartphone chip makers and the major network equipment companies are working on developing 5G network technology for their customers. There are still many challenges as 5G infrastructure must be able to serve the billions of internet-connected objects of small appliances in addition to large consumers of information.700MHz harmonization is a key feature in operators’ plans to begin rolling out 5G services and C-band is also likely to be used for 5G. After 2016 to get the fastest promised 5G speeds very high frequency bands that will need to be deployed for 5G services, mainly above 24 GHz.
5G will not only be about a new air interface with faster speeds, but it will also address network congestion, energy efficiency, cost, reliability, and connection to billions of people and devices. Many believe that a critical success factor for 5G will be a fully revamped TCP/IP stack and a group of major vendors has put forward an open source TCP/IP stack OpenFastPath they say is designed to reinvigorate the ancient and rather crusty protocol. Cyber security research will be important important in 2016 as 5G networks will be critical infrastructure, on top of which for example. transport, industry, health and the new operators set up their business around 2020. Growing network virtualization functionality and programmability are both an opportunity and a threat to security. Keep in mind that everything connected to the Internet can, and will be hacked.
Heightened interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and of Everything (IoE) will continue in 2016. IoT networks heat up in 2016 as low-power wide area networks for the Internet of Things have been attracting new entrants and investors at a heady pace with unannounced offerings still in the pipeline for 2016 trying to enable new IoT apps by undercutting costs and battery life for cellular and WiFi. There are many competing technologies in this field, and some will turn out to be winners and some losers. Remember that IoT is forecasted to be 50 billion connections by 2020, so there is lots of business opportunities for many IoT technologies.
2016 will be another booming year for Ethernet. Wi-Fi is obviously more convenient than wired Ethernet cables for average mobile user. But Ethernet still offers advantages — faster speeds, lower latency, and no wireless interference problems. Ethernet matters a lot with desktop PCs, laptops at desks, game consoles, TV-streaming boxes, and other devices – like when building backbone networks and data centers. Assuming it’s easy enough to plug the devices in with an Ethernet cable, you’ll get a more consistently solid connection. Yes, Ethernet is better.
The augmented global demand for data centers is the key driver for the growth in Global Ethernet Switch and Router Market 2016-2020.25G, 50G and 100G Ethernet is finding it’s place in in the Data Center. Experts predict that the largest cloud operators will shift to 100G Ethernet fabrics while cost-efficient 25G and 50G will remain the workhorses for most of the other well-known data-center companies.The increasing usage of advanced technologies, such as 10GbE ports, by enterprises and universities for educational and official purposes, is a significant factor in the enterprise and campus segment. The key players in this segment will be Arista Network, Brocade Communications, Cisco, Dell, HP, Huawei and Juniper Network. The 2015 Ethernet Roadmap shows a roadmap for physical links through 2020 and looks into the future terabit speeds as well.
I expect 2016 will be a year of widespread product adoption around 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet (GE) bandwidth over twisted-pair copper cabling (2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T) as transition to next generation 802.11ac Wave 2 access points will drive significant demand for 2.5G ports. Enterprise operators are looking to fill the gap between 1G and 10G over this legacy unshielded twisted-pair copper cabling (Category 5e/Category 6) that is installed all over. IEEE 802.11ac is 3x faster and 6x more power efficient than its predecessor, 802.11n, while remaining interoperable with 802.11n. Rapid adoption of 802.11ac is run by fact that tablets and smartphones are becoming ubiquitous in the workplace.
Driven by IEEE standards, Ethernet hits the road in 2016: A new trend emerging in the automotive market in 2016 is the migration of Ethernet, a tried-and-true computer network technology, into connected cars. The proliferation of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features in many vehicles is also expected to expand Ethernet use. The completion of IEEE 100BASE-T1 and 1000BASE-T1 standards are both expected. The emergence of the 1000BASE-T1 standard in mid-2016 provides a roadmap for automotive Ethernet evolution. Ethernet, starting in 2016, will be seen as the dominant in-vehicle network backbone.
Prepare for the PAM4 phase shift. PAM4 (four-level pulse-amplitude modulation) will be coming to wider use in 2016 because we all the time need faster communications links between ICs inside devices. NRZ won’t work at 56 Gbps and it seems that PAM-4 is the way to go as PAM4 doubles the bit rate for a given baud rate over NRZ. At 56 Gbps, 400 Gbps Ethernet can be realized with four lanes of PAM4 but might require eight 28 Gbps lanes with NRZ. PAM-4 is also gaining traction in 28 Gbps links. The bad news is that PAM4 trades off bandwidth for SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) meaning it is more sensitive to noise and timing skew than NRZ. PAM4 does bring SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) to the forefront of design issues. With four voltage level and three eyes, PAM4 requires new design techniques for recovering embedded clocks and for identifying bits in symbols. PAM4 will be used mainly on copper links, but it can be also used with fiber optic links, which has it’s own set of challenges. These and other issues are forging new techniques for how to measure and simulate PAM4 signals.
Cloud Scale Networking term will be seen. The virtualization of networks, storage, and servers is reshaping the way organizations use IT. Cloud computing plays an essential role in this process as cloud delivers the additional capacity required to satisfy growing demand to an enterprise or small business from a third party. The amount of data volume carried by networks has exploded. Cisco estimated last year that by 2017, data centers will handle some 7.7 zetabytes of IP traffic, two thirds of which would be on account of cloud computing. Total global data centre traffic is projected to triple by the end of 2019 (from 3.4 to 10.4 Zettabytes). Legacy, tiered, network designs can be replaced with scalable flat network topologies. They can be future-proofed using open, scalable SDN and NFV platforms. The network is cloud computing’s final frontier, at technology, people and process levels. Service providers seek to reduce costs, create new business opportunities, and introduce new services more quickly.
The “software-ization” of Telco and increasing use of pen-Source Networking will continue in 2016. In 2015, the adoption of OpenStack, OpenDaylight, OpNFV for software and services, and Open Compute for hardware will supported more virtualized, more open source network computing platforms and architecture. The trend will continue. SDN provides control to the enterprises and carriers on the complete network through a single logical point, thereby simplifying the network design and operation. The traditional, one-vendor, proprietary solution is transitioning to solutions involving many suppliers – and this offers customers with significant cost savings and performance optimization. Growing network virtualization functionality and programmability are both an opportunity and a threat to security. Keep in mind that everything connected to the Internet can, and will be hacked.
After COP21 climate change summit reaches deal in Paris there will be also interest in thinking how clean our networking is. It is being reported that communications technologies are responsible for about 2-4% of all of carbon footprint generated by human activity. The needs for communications and faster speeds is increasing in this every day more and more connected world – penetration of smart devices there was a tremendous increase in the amount of mobile data traffic from 2010 to 2014. When IoT is forecasted to be 50 billion connections by 2020, with the current technologies this would increase power consumption considerably. The trend to look for greener technologies is tackling first mobile networks because of their high energy use. Base stations and switching centers could count for between 60% and 85% of the energy used by an entire communication system. More and more facilities, especially big names like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, have looked to renewable energy.