Enhancing Network Efficiency: Uncovering the Treasure in Buried Assets
This is the third post in the “Strategies for Maximizing Network Efficiency” series It wasn’t too long ago that service providers competed fiercely and invested heavily to be the first to lay fiber on a grand scale. The benefits were clear – its highcapacity for carrying data, guaranteed consistency of signal transmission over long distances and immunity to electromagnetic interference made it an ideal transport solution. However, just because these resources are long buried doesn’t mean they should remain static.
As service providers consider ways to increase network efficiency, it’s important to take a hard look at how strategies might impact one of their biggest assets – those sunk-in underground fibers. There are several steps available for service providers to continue maximizing the value of this buried treasure:
- Focus on spectral efficiency:
To maximize the amount of data that can be transmitted without error, operators must find ways to optimize spectrum use throughout the network.
In the past, fiber spectrum schemes were fixed, meaning that the same amount of fiber capacity was consumed for both fast and slow signals. Today, operators have the opportunity to move to a flexible spectrum arrangement whereby they can fine-tune the system to allocate only the amount of spectrum needed for a particular signal speed and distance.
- Upgrade the network interface cards:
Network technology has evolved significantly in recent years to help service providers meet the tremendous and growing demand for data capacity. Today, the industry offers 400G blades – the fastest transmission rates currently available.
Upgrading network cards is a fast way to get the most out of existing fiber connections. While it may seem easy enough to just buy new cards, there are some trade-offs to consider. Higher capacity networks require additional switching resources to maximize aggregation of lower speed service interfaces on the network links.
By combining new high speed cards with flexible spectrum it is possible to increase network capacity five times from what was possible in previous years. It is critical to carefully assess your design plan as you upgrade to ensure that capacity and performance as a whole is optimized across the entire environment.
- Consider where services are being carried:
It may not seem important, but where services are carried matters. Running applications on the lowest possible network layer is most efficient, as it limits the number of data conversions that have to be performed during transmission.
By sending raw bits instead of complete packets, you can leverage networking hardware to carry a greater share of the load.
As networks become more complex, service providers are entering new territory in their attempts to boost efficiency across the transport network. As customer interfaces migrate to 100 Gb Ethernet and network interfaces scale to 400 Gb/s and beyond, network operators will be forced to make tradeoffs between data rates, spectral efficiency and distance.
To maximize the overall network efficiency, service providers will need a more flexible management solution; one that can dynamically allocate transmission rate and spectrum by service, preference, or distance.
As operators look to extend the benefits of underground fiber assets, it’s important to create a plan that effectively blends the new and the old. In these projects, design choices are crucial to ensuring that next-gen technologies don’t end up degrading performance over the long run.
How are you transforming your transport infrastructure for maximum network efficiency? Share your tips in the space below.
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