Networks that inspire infinite possibilities
What does it take to grow a kiwi fruit?
Water. Sunshine. Loving care from the farmer.
And something else, too. Broadband.
Indeed, New Zealand’s biggest consumer of broadband is a kiwi fruit packer. That’s because every piece of fruit is photographed in high resolution, with the images analyzed for size, quality and so on, meaning the fruit can be packaged optimally, improving the business case for the grower...and the happiness of its customers.
For the kiwi fruit – as for all of us – networks really are life.
I think the future won’t be about anticipating and supplying demand. It will be about building a network with infinite possibilities and letting our customers’ imaginations run riot about what it can be used for.
And we see the implications of this shift right across our Network Infrastructure business at Nokia.
In recent years, fixed broadband connections have evolved from 100 Mb/s, to a gigabit; 10 gigabit is becoming the technology of choice and, this year, the US city of Chattanooga became the world’s first 25 gigabit city.
Building out the network to meet demand is the ‘fiber-to-the-home’ story. But access networks are moving to the next chapter: going beyond connecting homes to connecting small and medium-sized businesses; connecting 5G small cells; powering industry 4.0; and enabling smart cities. We are going beyond ‘fiber-to-the-home’ to, in short, ‘fiber for everything’.
These changes will provide substantial benefits to operators because adding more services and users on fiber access networks bring a faster return on investment. The advanced engineering behind our networks enables them to support vastly more services. Instead of building new networks, service providers can build once and expand services from there.
Every urban planner knows that upgrading part of the road network in isolation causes chaos. And the law of bottlenecks applies equally to networks, pushing from the access into the optical network.
Like access networks, optical networks don’t just need to handle volume. They must do so in the context of dramatically increased needs for scale, resiliency, low (or imperceptible) latency and security.
The number of wavelengths, network elements, services and so on expands rapidly as the network scales up, and it’s this complexity that threatens not only the cost effectiveness of the network, but also its capacity and even resiliency.
That’s why, as well as investing in hardware, we’re investing R&D in solutions, including automation and open APIs, that help operators scale their networks up – or, indeed, down – to ensure they are running those networks optimally.
For IP networks, capacity is a basic requirement, and Nokia delivers that: we were the first to bring 800 gigabit routing interfaces to the industry. But faster alone is not enough. IP networks must be highly resilient, and able to meet the needs of critical operations – from emergency services to power grids to air traffic control. And they must perform in the toughest conditions: high-volume peaks; unexpected congestion; cyber-attacks...
That’s why Nokia starts from the ground up with the chips, moves to the operating system and extends our security concept to the applications and services within the network.
Aside from capacity, resiliency and security, we also need increased efficiency. Our chips are increasingly power efficient with successive generations: FP5, our newest offering, is around 75% more efficient than earlier generations.
So, we can see we need fiber for everything. We need to scale up (and, in fact, down) as necessary, simply. We need not only speed, but also security, sustainability and predictability.
And we need something else, too: networks that are truly global.
Factors from cloud use to virtual reality and more are driving intense investment in subsea cables to make human possibilities truly global. For example, just one of the projects in which we’re involved, 2Africa, will connect Europe, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan with 16 countries in Africa to provide reliable internet capacity for hundreds of millions of people. We are responding to those drivers with innovation in our cable technologies to increase capacity and – because capacity, as for terrestrial networks, is not the only important thing – focusing on topics like compatibility between subsea and terrestrial systems.
We are looking at a fundamental shift in our industry. We need to move from only predicting demand and then moving to meet it, to the new challenge of building a network with infinite possibilities and letting our customers’ imaginations run riot about what it can be used for.
It’s a great opportunity for us to help the world to see that networks really are life.