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:

    UTA researcher publishes article in prestigious journal on multi-channel, nonlinear-optical processing devices

    Breakthrough research from The University of Texas at Arlington and The University of Vermont could lead to a dramatic reduction in the cost and energy consumption of high-speed internet connections.

    Nonlinear-optical effects, such as intensity-dependent refractive index, can be used to process data thousands of times faster than what can be achieved electronically. Such processing has, until now, worked only for one optical beam at a time because the nonlinear-optical effects also cause unwanted inter-beam interaction, or crosstalk, when multiple light beams are present.

    Currently, to eliminate the noise accumulated during light propagation in optical communication links, telecom carriers must resort to frequent optoelectronic regeneration, where they convert optical signals to electrical via fast photodetectors, process them with silicon-based circuitry, and then convert the electrical signals back to optical, using lasers followed by electro-optic modulators. Since each optical fiber can carry over a hundred different signals at various wavelengths, known as wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM), such an optoelectronic regeneration needs to be done separately for each wavelength, making regenerators large, expensive and inefficient consumers of power.

    An attractive alternative to this is processing the optical signal directly, without converting it to electrical and back. In particular, the speed of light propagating in a transparent medium can be slightly modified by a change in the light intensity. This is a manifestation of a nonlinear-optical effect known as “self-phase modulation” or SPM. If light contains both signal and noise, the SPM can help clean the signal from noise by scattering the noise energy into frequencies well outside the signal band, from where the noise can be easily removed by a filter. When applied to light containing useful data, this SPM-enabled noise-removal operation is called “all-optical regeneration,” which can result in optical auto-correction of the signals carrying hundred times faster data rates than what can be processed electronically.

    However, the adoption of the all-optical regeneration in communication systems has been hindered by its inability to work with WDM signals.

    In their published article, Vasilyev and colleagues report experimental demonstration of a novel group-delay-managed nonlinear-optical medium, where strong SPM effect is achieved without such inter-channel interference. Splitting a conventional nonlinear medium, such as an optical fiber, into several short sections separated by special periodic-group-delay filters yields a medium in which all frequency components of the same WDM channel travel with the same speed, ensuring strong SPM. Different WDM channels travel with different speeds, which dramatically suppresses any inter-channel interaction.

    All-optical regenerator of multi-channel signals

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Global Interconnection Index

    Leverage the Global
    Interconnection Index, published by Equinix, that tracks, measures and forecasts the growth of Interconnection Bandwidth.

    Global Interconnection Index-Infographic

    See at a glance how Interconnection is emerging pervasively to scale digital business transformation.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    100/1000BASE-LX SFP for Long-Reach Single-Mode Fibers

    The dual-rate 100M/1G 10Km SFP is interoperable with the IEEE 100BASE-LX and 1000BASE-LX/LH standards.

    The GLC-GE-DR-LX SFP also supports digital optical monitoring (DOM) functions according to the industry-standard SFF-8472 multisource agreement (MSA). This feature gives the end user the ability to monitor real-time parameters of the SFP, such as optical output power, optical input power, temperature, laser bias current, and transceiver supply voltage.


  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Do SFP’s negotiate downward?

    Silly question no doubt but I don’t know the answer – if I have a 1gbps SFP at one end of a link and a 100mbps SFP at the other end, assuming they are both SM/MM will they negotiate at 100mbps or can an SFP only work at its rated speed?

    To expand, Fiber SFPs pretty much never negotiate speed (I’ve never seen one that would do more than one speed anyway). I have many copper SFPs in use that work like any other copper Gigabit 1000base-T port. It will negotiate 10/100/1000 or accept config to be hard set at any speed+duplex combo.

    While in some platforms, the GLC-T or SFP-GE-T don’t support auto-negotiation; for most platforms, they do.

    Copper, sometimes.
    Fiber, never that I have seen.
    To be clear, I am not saying fiber SFPs do not support auto negotiation, well *some* don’t, but they will only negotiate to one speed.

    There is something about optical PHYs that makes them unable to switch speeds the way electrical ones can. Not exactly sure why as I’m not much of a layer 1 guy.

    Essentially no fiber protocols auto negotiate.
    The one exception I am aware of has no real user base

    Uh, FibreChannel? (Not Ethernet though.) The SFPs in my Brocades are multi-speed, IIRC they are good for 2/4/8Gb.

    it is not the SPF that prevents multi-speed (as copper also proves) it is that ethernet protocols over fiber just don’t provide for multi-speed negotiation.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Single-mode Cabling Cost vs. Multimode Cabling Cost

    From the reddit post, we can summarize that the optics for single-mode are more expensive than optics for multimode. But the single-mode fiber itself is usually significantly cheaper. And lots of data centers and providers will only do single-mode cabling for new installs. So this post will have a comparison between single-mode optics and multimode optics from the following cost perspectives.

    Compared to single-mode transceivers, the price of multimode transceivers is nearly two or three times lower.

    To utilize the fundamental attributes of single-mode fibers, which are generally geared towards longer distance applications, requires transceivers with lasers that operate at longer wavelengths with smaller spot-size and generally narrower spectral width. These transceiver characteristics combined with the need for higher-precision alignment and tighter connector tolerances to smaller core diameters result in significantly higher transceiver costs and overall higher interconnect costs for singe-mode fiber interconnects.

    Fabrication methods for VCSEL based transceivers that are optimized for use with multimode fibers are more easily manufactured into array devices and are lower cost than equivalent single-mode transceivers.

    Single-mode fiber often costs less than multimode fiber. When building a 1G fiber optic network that you want to be able to go to 10G or faster on eventually, the savings on cost of fiber for single-mode saves about half-price. While the OM3 or OM4 multimode increase 35% in cost for SFPs. The single-mode optics are more expensive, but the labor costs of replacing the multimode are significantly higher, especially if those followed OM1—OM2—OM3—OM4. If you are willing to look at used ex-fiberchannel SFPs, the price of single-mode 1G drops through the floor. If you have budget and need for 10G short connections, the economics at last check still support multimode. Keep an eye on those economics though, as history suggests that the price premium for single-mode will drop.

    Both single-mode optics and multimode optics have their own features. Single-mode fiber cabling system is suitable for long-reach data transmission applications and widely deployed in carrier networks, MANs and PONs. Multimode fiber cabling system has a shorter reach and is widely deployed in enterprise data centers and LANs.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Connecting a 100M switch to a 1G switch with fiber

    in general, 100M over fiber is not compatible with 1G over fiber. There exist combined SFPs that support both 100BASE-FX and 1000BASE-SX, but they are not often used because they cost as much or more then one 100BASE-FX and one 1000BASE-SX transceiver together.

    100BASE-FX uses the same fiber cables as 1000BASE-SX (multi-mode fiber, MMF). You cannot passively convert between different fiber types

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Turn to USB-Based Spectrum Analyzers to Conquer Interference

    This article discusses how communications provider SaskTel is utilizing real-time spectrum analyzers to track down interference from European DECT wireless handsets.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Coaxing Light From Graphene

    At the Mobile World Congress, ICFO exhibited a prototype of a graphene-based integrated transceiver that could significantly reduce the power consumption of data centers, shrink their footprint, and increase their bandwidth. This has since led mobile companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Alcatel to support to ICFO’s research through their participation in the European Union’s US $1 billion research effort in all things graphene, known as the Graphene Flagship.

    “We’re building an integrated transceiver fully packaged with 100-gigabyte-per-second data transfer,” said Frank Koppens, the leader of the quantum nano-optoelectronic group at ICFO, when we spoke at his offices at the ICFO’s modern facilities. “The plan is—together with the Graphene Flagship—to have a prototype in about two and a half years that will beat existing technologies.”

    Koppens argues that these low-power, integrated photonic devices are required for the telecommunication industry’s transition to 5G, the next mobile telecommunications standard.

    “This is a really big issue,” said Koppens. “5G cannot just scale. Some new technology is needed. And that’s why we have several companies in the Graphene Flagship that are putting a lot of pressure on us to address this issue.”

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    All 50 states vote yes on AT&T’s $40 billion emergency response network FirstNet

    Today, AT&T announced that all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have officially signed on to FirstNet, a government program operated by AT&T to provide universal emergency response communications across the country.

    This is a major win for AT&T, which officially won the FirstNet contract this past March. The contract stipulated that AT&T would manage the network for 25 years, and the company committed to spending $40 billion to manage and operate the network. In exchange, the company would receive 20 MHz of critical wireless spectrum from the FCC, as well as payments from the government totaling $6.5 billion for the initial network rollout.

    The true win for AT&T though is in the actual spectrum itself, which is in the 700 Mhz band commonly used for LTE signals. While the FirstNet spectrum is prioritized for first responders, it also can be used for consumer wireless applications when an emergency is not taking place

    For AT&T, the victory provides a new source of revenue from local police and fire departments, who will presumably come to rely on FirstNet for their emergency communications. It also gets a serious boost in its spectrum, along with free cash from taxpayers.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Douglas MacMillan / Wall Street Journal:
    Startups aim to provide an alternative route to internet access via VPNs and mesh networks, amid net neutrality repeal, but their approaches are as yet unproven

    Startups Seek Tech Solution to Net Neutrality Repeal

    From VPNs to mesh networks, efforts to find an alternative route to internet access are gaining ground in Silicon Valley

    Daniela Perdomo is concerned about the power of U.S. telecom giants that stand to gain from the repeal of “net neutrality” rules. Her company offers a way around them: A $90 antenna that lets users send messages without cellular service or Wi-Fi.

    Ms. Perdomo is among the entrepreneurs whose vision for an alternative route to internet access is finding takers in Silicon Valley, where tech types were rattled by a recent government decision to overturn rules that required big internet providers to treat all traffic equally.

    “Society requires connectivity to function and to advance but we are leaving telecommunications in the hands of a few large corporations,” Ms. Perdomo said. “The lack of a choice is a problem.”

    “Net neutrality has been killed at the behest of large carriers and network companies,”

    “Technology needs to figure out a way to increase competition.”

    One way might be through virtual private networks

    Some VPNs help users shield their physical location and browsing patterns from internet service providers or governments,

    “We have been fighting this net neutrality battle in other countries over the last five years,” said David Gorodyansky, chief executive of AnchorFree Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif., startup that provides VPN service Hotspot Shield. “We are going to do the same in the U.S.”

    Americans could use a service like Hotspot Shield to cloak their digital whereabouts from broadband providers. In theory, that would make it harder for telecom companies such as AT&T Inc. or Verizon Communications Inc. to slow down a site or completely block users from viewing it.

    One problem with VPNs is speed. The online services most in danger of being blocked or throttled include video-streaming sites and other high-bandwidth applications, which generally take longer to load when connecting through a VPN.

    A mesh network may be another alternative to traditional internet access. Instead of accessing the internet through one provider, users of a mesh network pull bits of information from many different nodes—such as phones, laptops and antennas—around them, and often serve as a node themselves.

    That is the idea behind Ms. Perdomo’s company goTenna Inc., which makes a strap-on antenna the size of a smartphone that can connect with sister devices several miles away using a radio signal. The devices sync to phones for a connection strong enough to send encrypted texts and GPS coordinates between devices.

    As more antennas are added to the network, the messages can be sent over distances surpassing 4 miles. Rather than Wi-Fi or cellular signal, goTenna relies on publicly available radio frequencies.

    Another vision of mesh networks is taking shape in Porto, Portugal, where startup Veniam worked with city officials to install wireless sensors on moving vehicles, including buses and garbage trucks. The vehicles connect to Wi-Fi hot spots and to each other to create an internet network that reaches more people in more places.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New York State Eyes Its Own Net Neutrality Law

    Numerous states say they’ll be crafting their own net neutrality protections in the wake of the FCC’s recent vote to dismantle the rules. ISPs of course predicted this, which is why Comcast and Verizon successfully lobbied the FCC to include provisions in its “Restoring Internet Freedom” order that bans states from protecting consumers from privacy and net neutrality violations, or other bad behavior by incumbent ISPs. In ISP lobbying land, stopping states from writing protectionist law is an assault on “states rights,” but when states actually try to help consumers you’ll note the concern for states rights magically disappears.

    Regardless, New York State, California and Washington have all indicated that they will attempt to test the FCC’s state preemption authority on this front in the new year by crafting their own net neutrality legislation.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    UL issues First UL 3992 performance verification of patch cords to Sentinel Connectors System

    Certifying performance helps address industry concerns about degrading performance issues associated with patch cords

    Patch cords are considered by the industry as the weakest element in a communications cabling system due to the variance in patch cord performance, resulting from inferior or sub-standard connectors, materials, cable assembly or manufacturing process. Yet, the performance of a patch cord is crucial to a computer network’s speed and performance. An empirical study conducted by Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA) found a high failure rate in electrical performance of patch cords*.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Data center M&A deals in 2017 outnumbered 2015 and 2016 combined: Synergy Research

    The total value of major data center-oriented M&A deals that closed in 2017 reached $20 billion, surpassing the combined total for 2015 and 2016, according to new data from Synergy Research Group. There was an average of nearly one key M&A deal closed weekly through 2017. According to Synergy, there are four additional deals with a $2.6 billion total value as 2018 begins, which have been agreed but have yet to be closed.

    There were 12 deals valued in the $100 million to $1 billion range, and 31 deals valued at as much as $100 million each, says the market research firm.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The amount of roaming data exploded last summer

    Roaming data no longer paid the shocking sums we used to get used to last summer. The drop in prices led to a real explosion of data in Europe. The use of roaming data grew by as much as 800 per cent.

    According to BISC measurements, the number of global LTE data traffic doubled last year. The same growth is expected by the company this year.

    According to the latest statistics, LTE services are provided by 562 operators. During the year, the number of 4G operators grew by one quarter.

    In Europe, the EU decision stopped roaming roaming in June. As a result, European tourists used 600-800 percent more data than the previous year.



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