Telecom and networking trends for 2017

It’s always interesting (and dangerous) to lay out some predictions for the future of technology, so here are a few visions:

The exponential growth of broadband data is driving wireless (and wired) communications systems to more effectively use existing bandwidth. Mobile data traffic continues to grow, driven both by increased smartphone subscriptions and a continued increase in average data volume per subscription, fueled primarily by more viewing of video content. Ericsson forecasts mobile video traffic to grow by around 50% annually through 2022, to account for nearly 75% of all mobile data traffic. Social networking is the second biggest data traffic type. To make effective use of the wireless channel, system operators are moving toward massive-MIMO, multi-antenna systems that transmit multiple wide-bandwidth data streams—geometrically adding to system complexity and power consumption. Total mobile data traffic is expected to grow at 45% CAGR to 2020.

5G cellular technology is still in development, and is far from ready in 2017. As international groups set 2020 deadline to agree on frequencies and standards for the new equipment, anything before that is pre-standard. Expect to see many 5G announcements that might not be what 5G will actually be when standard is ready. The boldest statement is that Nokia & KT plan 2017 launch of world’s first mobile 5G network in South Korea in 2017: commercial trial system to operate in the 28GHz band. Wireless spectrum above 5 GHz will generate solutions for a massive increase in bandwidth and also for a latency of less than 1 ms.

CableLabs is working toward standardization of an AP Coordination protocol to improve In-Home WiFi as one access point (AP) for WiFi often is not enough to allow for reliable connection and ubiquitous speed to multiple devices throughout a large home. The hope is that something will be seen mid-2017. A mesh AP network is a self-healing, self-forming, self-optimizing network of mesh access points (MAPs).

There will be more and more Gigabit Internet connections in 2017. Gigabit Internet is Accelerating on All Fronts. Until recently, FTTH has been the dominant technology for gigabit. Some of the common options available now include fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 over cable’s HFC plant, G.Fast over telco DSL networks, 5G cellular, and fiber-to-the-building coupled with point-to-point wireless. AT&T recently launched its AT&T Fiber gigabit service. Cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 are cheaper and less disruptive than FTTH in that they do not require a rip-and-replace of the existing outside plant. DOCSIS 3.1, which has just begun to be deployed at scale, is designed to deliver up to 10 Gbps downstream Internet speeds over existing HFC networks (most deployments to date have featured 1 Gbps speeds). G.Fast is just beginning to come online with a few deployments (typically 500 meters or less distance at MDU). 5G cellular technology is still in development, and standards for it do not yet exist. Another promising wireless technology for delivering gigabit speeds is point-to-point millimeter wave, which uses spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz.

There are also some trials for 10 Gbit/s: For example Altice USA (Euronext:ATC) announced plans to build a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network capable of delivering broadband speeds of up to 10 Gbps across its U.S. footprint. The five-year deployment plan is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Interest to use TV white space increases in 2017 in USA.  The major factors driving the growth of the market include providing low-cost broadband to remote and non-line-of-sight regions. Rural Internet access market is expected to grow at a significant rate between 2016 and 2022. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global TV white space market was valued at $1.2 million in 2015 and is expected to reach approximately $53.1 million by 2022, at a CAGR of 74.30% during the forecast period.

The rapid growth of the internet and cloud computing has resulted in bandwidth requirements for data center network. This is in turn expected to increase the demand for optical interconnects in the next-generation data center networks.

Open Ethernet networking platforms will make a noticeable impact in 2017. The availability of full featured, high performance and cost effective open switching platforms combined with open network operating systems such as Cumulus Networks, Microsoft SoNIC, and OpenSwitch will finally see significant volume uptake in 2017.

Network becomes more and more software controlled in 2017.NFV and SDN Will Mature as Automated Networks will become Production systems. Over the next five years, nearly 60 percent of hyperscale facilities are expected to deploy SDN and/or NFV solutions. IoT will force SDN adoption into Campus Networks.

SDN implementations are increasingly taking a platform approach with plug and play support for any VNF, topology, and analytics that are instrumented and automated. Some companies are discovering the security benefits of SDN – virtual segmentation and automation. The importance of specific SDN protocols (OpenFlow, OVSDB, NetConf, etc.) will diminish as many universes of SDN/NFV will solidify into standard models. More vendors are opening up their SDN platforms to third-party VNFs. In Linux based systems eBPF and XDP are delivering flexibility, scale, security, and performance for a broad set of functions beyond networking without bypassing the kernel.

For year 2016 it was predicted that gigabit ethernet sales start to decline as the needle moving away from 1 Gigabit Ethernet towards faster standards (2.5 or 5.0 or 10Gbps; Nbase-T is basically underclocked 10Gbase-T running at 2.5 or 5.0Gbps instead of 10Gbps). I have not yet seen the result from this prediction, but that does not stop from making new ones. So I expect that 10GbE sales will peak in 2017 and start a steady decline after 2017 as it is starts being pushed aside by 25, 50, and 100GbE in data center applications. 25Gbit/s Ethernet is available now from all of the major server vendors. 25 can start to become the new 10 as it offers 2.5x the throughput and only a modest price premium over 10Gbit/s.

100G and 400G Ethernet will still have some implementation challenges in 2017. Data-center customers are demanding a steep downward trajectory in the cost of 100G pluggable transceivers, but existing 100G module multi-source agreements (MSAs) such as PSM4 and CWDM4 have limited capacity for cost reduction due to the cost of the fiber (PSM4) and the large number of components (both PSM4 and CWDM4). It seems that dual-lambda PAM4 and existing 100G Ethernet (100GE) solutions such as PSM4 and CWDM4 will not be able to achieve the overall cost reductions demanded by data-center customers.  At OFC 2016, AppliedMicro showcased the world’s first 100G PAM4 single-wavelength solution for 100G and 400G Ethernet. We might be able to see see 400GE in the second half of 2017 or the early part of 2018.

As the shift to the cloud is accelerating in 2017, the traffic routed through cloud-based data centers is expected to quadruple in the next four years according to the results of the sixth annual Global Cloud Index published by Cisco. Public cloud is growing faster than private cloud. An estimated 68 percent of cloud workloads will be deployed in public cloud data centers by 2020, up from 49 percent in 2015. According to Cisco, hyperscale data centers will account for 47 percent of global server fleet and support 53 percent of all data center traffic by 2020.

The modular data center market has experienced a high growth and adoption rate in the last few years, and is anticipated to experience more of this trend in years to come. Those data centers are typically built using standard 20 ft. container module or standard 40 ft. container module. Modular data center market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 24.1% during period 2016 – 2025, to account for US$ 22.41 billion in 2025Also in 2017 the first cracks will start to appear in Intel’s vaunted CPU dominance.

The future of network neutrality is unsure in 2017 as the Senate failed to reconfirm Democratic pro-net neutrality FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, portending new Trump era leadership and agenda Net neutrality faces extinction under Trump. Also one of Trump’s advisers on FCC, Mark Jamison, argued last month that the agency should only regulate radio spectrum licenses, scale back all other functions. When Chairman Tom Wheeler, the current head of the FCC, steps down, Republicans will hold a majority.



  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ‘Suspicious’ BGP event routed big traffic sites through Russia
    Google, Facebook and Microsoft routed through PutinGrad, for no good reason

    A Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing incident saw a bunch of high-profile Internet destinations mis-routed through Russia on Tuesday, US time.

    In what BGPMon called a “suspicious” event, “Starting at 04:43 (UTC) 80 prefixes normally announced by organisations such Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitch, NTT Communications and Riot Games were now detected in the global BGP routing tables with an Origin AS of 39523 (DV-LINK-AS), out of Russia.”

    The glitch happened twice, the monitoring organisation reported: Once between 04:43 and 04:46 UTC on December 12, and then between 07:07 and 07:10.

    Peers that accepted the announcements and made them reachable included Hurricane Electric and Zayo in the US, Scandinavian international collaboration Nordunet, and Telstra in Australia.

    The autonomous system (AS) that made the announcements had been largely dormant for years.

    “This means that this isn’t a simple leak, but someone is intentionally inserting these more specific prefixes, possibly with the intent the attract traffic”, BPGMon’s Andree Toonk wrote.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lights, camera, 802.11ax-ion!
    Marvell claims it’ll have the first chipsets for new 10G WiFi ready for products in H2 2018

    Chip-maker Marvell has claimed it will be the first to offer WiFi chipsets that bring the 802.11ax standard to the world.

    802.11ax hasn’t been signed off yet, but promises to send WiFi towards 10 Gb/s thanks to its use of both multi-user multiple-input and multiple-output (MU-MIMO) and the new Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA). MU-MIMO lets an access point use multiple antennae for a single connection, while OFDMA assigns individual users subsets of a link so the radios can serve more than one user at a time. Together, the pair make 802.11ax good at combining lots of different links so that users get more connections, more often, and end up with more bandwidth.

    That’s a fine combination for business, as it promises the chance to serve users with fewer access points than are required today. Reduced complexity should result and should be appreciated, even if 802.11ax access points might just need a new cable standard to do meaningful work.

    The company’s cooked three chipsets: the 88W9068 has eight antennae dedicated to reception and another eight for transmission while the 88W9064 has four of each. Both are destined to end up in business-oriented products or public spaces. The 88W9064S has two receivers and four transmitters and Marvell’s targeted it at set-top boxen.

    Marvell said the chipsets will ship some time in early 2018 and will appear in products in the second half of the year. Widespread 802.11ax adoption in devices probably won’t happen until 2019.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google: Southeast Asia’s internet economy is growing faster than expected

    Southeast Asia is now the world’s third largest region for internet users — with more people online than the entire U.S. population — and internet is having a bigger impact on the region than originally thought, according to a new report co-authored by Google.

    China and India typically dominate the conversation when looking at emerging economies in Asia, but Southeast Asia is rapidly being acknowledged as a market where the internet is changing daily behaviors and creating new opportunities.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    60-GHz module targets wireless infrastructure

    GigaRay MOD65412 from Lattice Semiconductor is a 60-GHz module set that is a precertified, production-ready component for wireless ISPs and mobile network operators. Leveraging Lattice’s SiBeam phased-array antenna and electronic beam-steering technology, the module set minimizes installation time and reduces maintenance costs.

    Comprising a baseband module and RF module, the MOD65412 supports distances of up to 200 meters at 1 Gbps TCP/IP and up to 300 meters at 300 Mbps TCP/IP data bandwidth with a 45° steering range. The PCIe half-height baseband minicard employs Lattice’s SB6541 baseband processor, which performs MAC and PHY functions and features high-speed adaptive electronic beam-steering for link discovery, maintenance, and switching. The baseband module also includes RF and system interfaces.

    Based on the company’s SiI6342 60 GHz phased-array RF transceiver, the 51.6×62.6×6.6- mm RF module integrates a high-gain PCB antenna and a combined EMI shield and heat sink for system thermal management. Also included with the module set is a Linux device driver.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The pros and cons of mesh networking

    With my new mesh network set up and running, now’s the time to answer the all-important question of how well it’s running. Also, Google’s designed Google Wifi to be easy to maintain (along with being family-friendly, such as via the “pause” feature that temporarily disables network access for one or a group of devices, or the recently-added device-specific or network-wide porn site blocking feature); how well did Google execute on its aspirations, and did any important features fall by the wayside in the process?

    One thing you’ll discover right away and (like me) might find odd is that Google Wifi uses the same SSID with the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless networks, for a claimed “better, easier experience.” It’s up to each network client to select which frequency “beacon” it’s compatible with and (if both are options) which is better in a particular location, balancing performance (usually but not always 5 GHz) against range (usually but not always 2.4 GHz).

    Another oddity: the LAN subnet is fixed (, not admin-alterable. In most cases, this’ll be a non-issue for implementers.

    Speaking of subnets, there’s seemingly no way to restrict the router’s DHCP server to use only a portion of the total available CIDR /24 subnet space. This seemingly means that static IP-assigned network clients can’t be reliably used with Google Wifi, although it’s alternatively possible to reserve at the router an IP address for a particular DHCP-configured client.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Official traffic will bypass normal 4G traffic in Finland

    Separate networks and commercial operators have successfully tested over the previous year the privilege of public transport over other traffic. Separate networks, Elisa, Helsingin Poliisi and Nokia again tested in December the privilege of official traffic in a genuine load situation in the mobile network.

    Virve’s network of authorities is moving to a new generation of technical solutions in which public transport is handled in co-operation with commercial operators. Implementation of critical government communication services on commercial network operators requires particular stability and interference.

    Priority in the authority connection overrides the functionality of other on-line traffic and the availability of service in mobile network crash situations as a prerequisite for exploiting commercial networks in critical government communications.


  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Case Against Net Neutrality

    This is a guest post. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the blogger and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

    However, an aspect of network operations that is often ignored in the popular network neutrality debate is this: It is, in fact, desirable that ISPs not always be neutral in handling network traffic.

    As an example, consider two users whose Internet traffic goes through the same congested link. If one user is streaming video and another is backing up data to the cloud, a perfectly neutral network would slow down both transfers. Most people would probably agree that, to create the best experience for the most users, it would be best to slightly slow down non-interactive traffic such as data backups, and free up bandwidth for videos and voice-over-IP calls.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tech Talk: 802.11ax Multi-User

    How the new standard improves wireless bandwidth in the home and office and what’s needed to implement it.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple Awards $390 Million to Optical Components Supplier Finisar

    Optical communications components provider Finisar will get $390 million from customer Apple to open a manufacturing facility for vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), a technology used in key features of Apple products, including iPhone X.

    Finisar will use part of the funding to transform a long-shuttered, 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas, into a workhorse of VSCEL manufacturing by the second half of next year, creating more than 500 jobs, including engineers and technicians, Apple said. The combination of the Sherman plant and another Finisar plant in Allen, Texas, is expected to bring Finisar’s payroll in the state to more than $65 million.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The FCC officially votes to kill net neutrality

    Despite overwhelming opposition from Congress, technical experts, advocacy organizations, and of course the American people, the FCC has voted to eliminate 2015’s Open Internet Order and the net neutrality protections it established.

    The order passed today, “Restoring Internet Freedom,” essentially removes the FCC as a regulator of the broadband industry and relegates rules that prevented blocking and throttling content to the honor system.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The FCC just repealed net neutrality. What happens next?

    The FCC voted this morning to nullify 2015’s Open Internet Order and its strong net neutrality rules, substituting a flimsy replacement with a deeply (and deliberately) incorrect technical justification.

    The battle is lost. What of the war? Here’s what happens next, and what you can do to help.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What telecoms and tech companies are saying about the FCC’s net neutrality decision

    The FCC just voted to eliminate the net neutrality rules established by 2015’s Open Internet Order. The blowback has been predictably sudden from many prominent internet companies that are decrying the commission’s decision. Just as pronounced, however, has been the support from prominent telecoms that expressed enthusiasm for the FCC’s vote

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    U.S. regulators ditch net neutrality rules as legal battles loom

    The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal in a 3-2 vote marked a victory for internet service providers such as AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc and hands them power over what content consumers can access. It also is the biggest win for Pai in his sweeping effort to undo many telecommunications regulations since taking over at the agency in January.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Paresh Dave / Reuters:
    Alphabet’s X inks deal with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to install 2,000 boxes that provide high-speed wireless internet using light beams

    Alphabet’s X sells new wireless internet tech to Indian state

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the agreement, which begins next year, would see 2,000 boxes installed as far as 20 kilometers (12 miles) apart on posts and roofs to bring a fast internet connection to populated areas. The idea is to create a new backbone to supply service to cellphone towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, endpoints that users would then access.

    The agreement is an outgrowth of X’s Project Loon

    X plans to deploy free space optical technology, which transmits data through light beams at up to 20 gigabits per second between the rooftop boxes. There would be enough bandwidth for thousands of people to browse the Web simultaneously through the same cellphone tower, X said.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tony Romm / Recode:
    A coalition of state attorneys general, led by the New York AG, pledge to sue the FCC for repealing net neutrality rules

    The next front in the net neutrality war: Feds versus the states
    States like Washington and New York are gearing up to fight the FCC’s recent repeal

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Third quarter 2017 follows year-long theme for optical communications: LightCounting

    LightCounting states in its newly released “December 2017 Quarterly Market Update” that demand for optical communications technology in the third quarter of 2017 followed what has so far been a year-long trend: Service provider spending declined year-on-year while data center operators increased their investments.

    Optical technology vendors looking for rays of light within the service provider gloom found them in sequential growth 100G DWDM transponders and WSS module sales. However, these upticks paled in comparison to the declines experienced in the FTTx and wireless fronthaul markets, both sequentially and annually (see “Demand for FTTx, wireless optics declines from 2016: LightCounting”). That said, LightCounting reports that check-ins with semiconductor vendors such as Analog Devices, Qualcomm, and Xilinx revealed increased activity in wireless communications, including 4.5G and 5G projects. This information leads the market research firm to expect initial commercial deployments of next generation wireless technologies in 2018, which in turn should boost the demand for optical fronthaul technology.

    The news overall was much better for technology vendors with exposure to the data center and internet content provider markets. Alibaba, Facebook, and Google increased their infrastructure spends by 142%, 62% and 39%, respectively, leading to overall spending records in the space during the quarter. Facebook, meanwhile, plans to double capex in 2018 according to LightCounting, leading to hopes the growth is sustainable.

    Shipments of PSM4 and CWDM4 100GbE modules set records during the quarter. However, 100GBASE-LR4 QSFP28 optical transceiver demand in the third quarter of 2017 proved softer than LightCounting expected.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Internet in 84% of U.S. homes

    According to the Leichtman Research Group, 84% of U.S. households get an Internet service at home, compared to 83% in 2012 and 74% in 2007. Broadband accounts for 98% of households with Internet service at home, and 82% of all households get a broadband Internet service, an increase from 76% in 2012 and 53% in 2007.

    In addition, 75% of adults access the Internet on a smartphone, up from 44% in 2012. Overall, 68% of households now get Internet service both at home and on a smartphone, an increase from 59% in 2014 and 42% in 2012.

    Other findings indicate:

    16% of households only get Internet service at home, compared to 41% in 2012.
    42% not online at home access the Internet on a smartphone, representing 7% overall.
    91% of all households access the Internet either at home and/or on a smartphone, compared to 85% in 2012.
    91% with annual household Incomes greater than $50,000 get broadband at home, compared to 72% with annual household incomes of less than $50,000.
    85% of households use at least one laptop or desktop computer; 93% of this group get an Internet service at home.
    63% of those not online at home do not use a laptop or desktop at home.

    “The percentage of households that have an Internet service at home is similar to what it was five years ago. Yet, increasingly the home Internet service is broadband, and it has also become more common for home Internet service to be paired with Internet service on a smartphone,”

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    AT&T trialing broadband over power lines

    AT&T (NYSE:T) has launched two trials of its Project AirGig broadband over powerline (BPL) technology, one internationally and a second in the United States in Georgia.

    AirGig is intended to eventually deliver Internet speeds in excess of 1 Gbps via a millimeter wave (mmWave) signal guided by power lines. The object is to avoid building new towers or burying new cables in locations close to aerial power lines. AirGig is intended to allow trained electrical workers to install devices to provide high-speed broadband in just a few minutes.

    “Project AirGig is part of our ongoing effort to accelerate Internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions,”

    There’s no timeline yet for commercial deployment

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Cable Labs gives OpenStack, and itself, some help on the edge
    Serverless functions running on a set-top box could be a thing before long

    CableLabs, the organisation that figures out to help pay TV operators sweat their networks, has launched OpenStack installers for its software-defined networking and network function virtualization efforts.

    The organisation has had its eye on this for a while with an effort called “SNAPS” the “SDN & NFV Application Platform and Stack. SNAPS exists to help cable network operators implement SDN and NFV on their HFC networks.

    SNAPS is designed to allow interoperability across cable networks, a more-than-useful quality given that those who provide virtualized network services will want them to work regardless of network operator. With many millions of homes around the world already using cable networks for broadband connections, and network operators hoping they can recruit many million more, there’s a big target market for network services. Throw in the potential to run network services on set-top boxen that cable TV companies provide and there’s a clear need for an interoperable SDN and NFV on cable tool.

    While CableLabs has worked on SNAPs, OpenStack has become the de facto standard for carriers’ SDN and NFV efforts or plans.

    Which is why CableLabs on Thursday announced “SNAPS OpenStack”, to brings its efforts to the open source infrastructure project.


    SNAPS-OpenStack is step two for the SNAPSTM Program we are developing at CableLabs. It is an OpenStack Kolla installer for machines that have been initialized with SNAPS-Boot.

    If you’re working with Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) or just building your own cloud, then this is where you want to be.

    SNAPS-OpenStack was originally built by CableLabs and Aricent, but we could use your help! Check out our contributing guidelines to get started.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Positioning: Silicon photonics manufacturing requires parallelism in alignment processes

    To make silicon photonics devices profitably at scale, automation subsystems require alignment processes that support steps from device characterization at the wafer level to final assembly and packaging.

    In 2000, well before the telecom-driven photonics boom of 1997-2002 reached its sudden end, the term “photonomics” was coined to underscore the importance of process automation for the economic well-being of the industry. The economic examples presented in that work seem quaint today: 60 parts per hour per workstation. Compare that to today’s silicon photonics manufacturing processes in which thousands of devices are minted per wafer. A pace of 60 parts per hour may have been blistering two decades ago, but now it would mean unsustainability in the current and future competitive landscape.


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