Network Trends for the Future: The Path and the Vehicle

At some point, a hybrid approach is likely necessary to achieve “full” network connectivity.

Vehicles To The Future

Ethernet Services

Ever since the birth of the Internet, we have continued to expand its ability to connect people and information. Back in the DS1 days, businesses connected remote locations to each other and the Internet via these little 1.5 Mbps connections (prior to that 56K modems). Today, the network has evolved toward Ethernet services, such as Ethernet private line (EPL), Virtual Private Line (EVPL) and Ethernet LAN (ELAN), moving data bandwidths from 5 Mbps to 1000 Mbps (a GIG). Beyond that, wavelength technologies have expanded bandwidth capabilities up to 400 Gbps. Now, 10 Mb Ethernet Private Line is the new DS1.

Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Another evolving concept is Software Defined Networking (SDN), and its offspring SD-WAN. This is the concept of making network capacity available “on demand.”  SD-WAN is touted as a potential network solution for enterprise customers needing to connect remote locations in a secure network configuration. Providers promote its capability to utilize the existing Internet connection to establish a secure network connection, much like a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. If your pathway is dynamic—meaning you have access to the appropriate speed of broadband connectivity—it’s a feasible and scalable solution.

Internet of Things 

The Internet of Things (IoT) remotely connects machines to machines for monitoring and automation. These machines may be your thermostat, your television, and your security system, all utilizing a network (either public internet or private line connection) for connectivity. Self-driving cars require a network of access points for operation. There are a multitude of applications that have been developed—or are being developed—to enable connectivity and productivity at a higher level.

5G Wireless

5G wireless technology is touted by some as the “holy grail” of wireless networking. While 5G has extraordinary capabilities for moving large amounts of data quickly via a wireless pathway, it still relies upon the network pipe (fiber) for its connection back to its source, likely a network router or switch. 5G is a likely candidate for distribution of video services and many other high bandwidth applications in small, densely populated areas. As 5G technology is deployed, more points of interface are necessary, in the form of towers, antennas, and access points for transmission and distribution. These access points are more commonly known as “small cells” and may be deployed in a variety of environments.

As technology continues to evolve, we must continue to build the infrastructure to meet the needs of network users everywhere. The fiber network will continue to expand, with the goal of expanding connectivity and, with it, economic opportunity. With this expansion, network security will continue to be a very important component to the equation, as users have a greater reliance on evolving technology.

I am thankful and appreciative to have been a part of the telecom industry during this unprecedented period of technology innovation and growth. Many people I have met throughout my career have been truly inspiring with their passion for technology. As a rural network operator throughout most of my career, I take the responsibility for bringing technology and economic prosperity to those rural areas very seriously. I am proud to be acquainted with many small network operators who are extending fiber to homes, businesses and towers, making many positive contributions to the economic prosperity of the communities they serve.

The state of technology, innovation and network evolution is alive and well.  I can’t wait to see what we all do with 5G services and the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). There are certainly opportunities in video, security and agriculture, to name just a few of the industries ripe for tech innovation. We just need to extend the network.

The challenge is there, and we in the industry are eager to meet it head on. It’s time to grab the brass ring and swing from it.


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