Five tech disruptions for telecom sector India, 2016

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Ryan Perera, India Country Manager of Ciena, is talking about five technology disruptions for the telecom sector in India in 2016.

Thanks to initiatives like Digital India and Smart Cities launched by the Narendra Modi administration with the clear objective of leveraging the communications infrastructure to improve the country’s economy, 2016 is going to be a decisive year for Indian telecoms. With telecom networks playing a pivotal role in this digital transformation, all eyes are on service providers and other players in the connected ecosystem.

While the future of the Indian telecom industry looks promising in terms of growth, there are several challenges that still need to be addressed to prove that outlook. With service providers seeking innovative ways to address the infrastructural challenges and QoS concerns, the focus will be on technologies that help them optimize existing investments for superior service delivery while improving both the top and bottom lines.

Below are five key transformations that will happen as a result of changes happening in the Indian telecom sector in 2016.

Container-Based Micro-Services Will Emerge  

Over the past few years we saw how cloud and virtualization helped enterprises replace a large chunk of IT from legacy hardware and software with flexible, on-demand model that has in a way democratized IT service delivery among them. However, as the digital ecosystem evolves, new challenges arise creating the need for a revolutionary approach that proactively addresses the concerns of modern IT. One such challenge, for example, arises due to the lack of flexibility in SDN and NFV solutions that package multiple monolithic software applications. The tightly coupled architecture makes it difficult for enterprise to manage, control and deploy applications. Container-based micro-services architecture is an alternative to the monolithic, non-modular software models. In simple terms, the micro-services approach allows enterprises to modify the platform, add new services and program the platform to build new services. This development methodology also makes an application easier to enhance, maintain and manage in cloud environments. It supports the open standards based technologies, thereby allowing enterprises to benefit from the continuing improvements available through the open source communities such as ONF and ETSI NFV ISG. No doubt, the container-based micro-services approach is set to redefine network virtualization.

Virtual CPEs Will Redefine Managed Services Delivery

The digital transformation in the consumer and enterprise markets has forced service providers to revisit their networking strategies to improve efficiency and seek innovative ways to deliver differentiated services. Recent advancements in virtual CPEs (vCPEs) allow managed service providers to efficiently integrate a set of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and rapidly operationalize new Network Function Virtualization (NFV)-enabled Carrier Ethernet business services. The simplified service delivery model allows clients to access self-service catalogs from the cloud and enables the services as and when required. vCPEs are set to accelerate the adoption of VNF-based carrier managed services, including audit capabilities, integration services, migration services, support services, reporting services and more. As network virtualization gains more relevance, technologies like VNF-based virtual CPEs are likely to gain traction in the coming months.

Telecoms Will Continue to Look for Ways to Offset OTT Challenges

The telecommunications industry in India is going through a turbulent time thanks to the competitive landscape nurtured by the digitally empowered smartphone users. The emergence of disruptive services like VoIP and OTT messaging has undoubtedly cut a deep hole in telecom’s revenue share. To survive the challenges arising from OTT players, telecoms are seeking new ways to monetize their network resources by delivering new and differentiated services such as analytics-based customer-oriented offerings and vertical marketing methods.

While coping up with the pressure from OTT players, telecoms also need to address the connectivity challenges. And, as the industry steps into 5G, there is urgency among telecoms to prepare their networks to accommodate the demand from data hungry applications from different sources. The Network-on-Demand concept based on SDN / NFV finds more relevance in the context of Indian telecoms as it helps network operators accelerate and automate service delivery across both virtual and physical domains. Mobile backhaul, meanwhile, continues to hold its relevance in Indian telecom market crippled with infrastructural challenges.

Additionally, with infrastructure expansion remaining a grave concern among all telecoms, there is an urgency to optimize the existing networks with minimal investments. Going forward, telecoms’ focus will be to deliver high capacity connectivity needs in access, metro, long distance and interracial communities with advanced technologies. Service providers are likely to seek more investments to bolster private optical networks and Carrier Ethernet technologies that will deliver bit rates in the range of 10 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s and beyond.

Converged Infrastructures Will Make Cities Smarter

Telco networks are the lifeline for smart cities and are critical for ensuring communications between devices – be it for traffic management, emergency communications, GPS tracking, utility services, healthcare services, energy management and more. Government’s focus in smart cities will be to ensure seamless connectivity among the connected devices so that manual intervention is reduced to the least. To ensure this, the smart city networks must be free from the challenges associated with interconnecting multitudes of devices from different vendors and operating on different protocols. The converged communications infrastructure is gaining popularity as it addresses the challenges arising from different users and applications formats. Modern fiber networks with SDN and NFV capabilities will be an attractive value proposition for Indian telecoms in 2016 because they enable flexible and extensible infrastructure while also reducing hardware, power, and space requirements.

Assured Networks Will Help Bolster India’s Defense Network

As the cyber threat continues to grow more sophisticated, there have been new efforts from the Ministry of Defence to bolster the communications network to prevent any possible assault on its integrity from cyber warfare. Not to mention, the blurring line between what is perceived as national security concern and that as user privacy has put telecoms at the receiving end of the policy transformation. While telecoms become subject to strict scrutiny from the side of the government, they also have to deal with the privacy breach concerns arising from their valued customers.

In the wake of these challenges, there is growing urgency among service providers to assure their networks by delivering mission critical security and availability. The concept of assured networks has thus emerged as a way to help telecoms preserve the privacy and integrity of customer data while gaining total control of the network infrastructure and assets. Network assurance technologies ensure low-latency and high bandwidth network while also delivering the required security and data privacy to all parties involved in the communications network.  Advancements in encryption at the optical layer of the network now enable service providers to segment the traffic to multiple network components to help minimize disruption. With advanced analytics and situational awareness, providers can determine any anomalous behavior in networks.

In nutshell, the industry is waiting to see some of the bold steps from service providers and their network partners in 2016.   There will be a number of new technologies and approaches that will help alleviate the top concerns and push the telecom network forward to the next level of growth by exploiting the opportunities brought by 5G and several government initiatives.

Ryan Perera, country head, global field organization India, Ciena
By Ryan Perera, India Country Manager of Ciena

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