Preparing the Metro Core Network for Disruptive Technologies Like DAA and 5G (2019)

By Fady Masoud, M. Eng., Infinera

The metro network is one of the most dynamic areas in the entire service delivery model, and it is expected to witness first the impact of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G,and distributed access architectures (DAA), which will drive demand for capacity and a need for increased network agility.

It is estimated that 30 billion devices will connect to the internet in 2020, while all-fiber access networks have surpassed xDSL connections, with nearly 60 million homes able to receive fiber to the home (FTTH) and 23.8 million homes connected in North America alone.

Moreover, the world is on the verge of the massive deployment of 5G mobility, which is poised to radically transform mobile connectivity and start a new era of high-performance mobile applications and machine-to-machine real-time communication. The number of commercial 5G network deployments is expected to grow to 55 globally in 2019, up from 13 in 2018.

The deployment of 5G networks will dictate an unprecedented level of performance from the underlying optical transport networks, including ultra-low latency, network sliceability, and scalability. Some of these requirements, such as the dramatic reduction in latency, will require the implementation of multi access edge computing (MEC) to process and push content closer to the end user, charting a new way of architecting and operating the network as a result. MEC is also fueling the conversion of existing access network sites into mini data centers, thus creating the need for access and core networks, along with MEC resources, to be managed as a single entity from core to edge. In 5G, the concept of network slicing is used to manage this core-to-edge flow of transport and MEC resources. Slices can be created to support the differing transport, storage, and compute resources required for each individual service type.

Overall, the deployment of data centers in metro areas has been increasing at a very fast pace. As a matter of fact, there are 3,600 data centers in the top 20 cities,4 with London leading the pack with 429 data centers in its metropolitan boundaries. This paper describes the evolution needs of metro core networks and the innovative technologies that will enable network operators to gracefully embrace this journey.

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