Net 5.5G 2025-30 trends and opportunities for carriers to drive business growth

 Kevin Hu, Huawei
Kevin Hu, President of Huawei Data Communication Product Line

Data communications traversed several significant milestones as it evolved from the era of ARPANET experimental networks of the 1990s to the mobile Internet era of the 2010-20 and the present. The next, perhaps the most momentous evolution awaiting data communications, is the era of Net 5.5G 2025-30 dominated by trends such as Metaverse, Industry 4.0, full-blown AI, and 3GPP 5G Advanced. Data communication networks such as campus networks, wide area networks (WAN) and data center networks play an essential role in interlacing and digitizing the zettabytes of data connecting billions of hundreds of connected things and objects during this journey, so there is an urgent need for carriers to build capabilities around these to prepare their networks for the Net 5.5 era.

The recently concluded Intelligent Cloud-Network Forum themed, “Continuously Innovate Intelligent Cloud-Networks, Stride towards Net5.5G”, was organized to discuss the evolving trends of the data communications industry, as well as share innovative commercial cases in scenarios such as converged IP transport network, intelligent cloud-network, data center network, and enterprise campus network. The summit was held as part of the 8th Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF 2022) in Bangkok, Thailand. Also at this summit, Omdia, in partnership with a number of carriers, universities, research councils and equipment vendors, released a Net 5.5G whitepaper titled, “Research on the Trends of Data Communication Network for 2030,” to promote industry consensus on Net5.5G.

Network Trends of 2030

By mapping the applications needs of the future against network requirements, analysts have uncovered several trends that will define the data communications networks of the future. Omdia estimates that by 2030, there will be 13.7 million new consumer devices connecting things, from everyday objects to items that we wear or integrated with our bodies.  The hunger for capacity arising from these far more connected devices will necessitate service provider networks of 2030 to carry 10x the bandwidth they offered 10 years earlier.

The era of Net 5.5G will also be marked by the coalescence of physical and virtual worlds through augmented reality (AR) or a fully immersive 3D experience through a mix of AR and virtual reality (VR) known as mixed reality (MR). These technologies, alongside the developments in Web 3.0 technology, can largely impact the way people interact, work and consume entertainment services. Today video accounts for approximately 80 percent of the Internet traffic and is the leading driver of consumer broadband speeds. By 2030, this is likely to grow exponentially, especially with the growth of high-quality 8K video and advanced VR applications such as Free-Viewpoint video, all of which will demand bandwidth in Gbps.

As video streaming, interactive VR and metaverse advance to the next level, network characteristics such as latency, jitter, consistency and reliability also become important considerations. World Broadband Association predicts that by 2030 broadband access networks in advanced countries will need to achieve reliability of greater than 99.999 percent, less than 1ms latency, and extremely low jitter. Future networks will also need to be more intelligent, to understand the traffic flow and performance of the applications and set network priority at an application level to ensure the delivery of the required quality of experience.

By 2030, enterprises workloads will transform more into an application-driven architecture with cloud playing the central role. The intelligent, interconnected clouds will adapt to the changing applications loads, user and device needs, available compute resources, and network traffic conditions.  The underlying resources will align to meet requirements that are application-specific and set by the business for acceptable response intervals and work experiences. The technology department in enterprises will assess new applications, platforms, and solutions in a digital twin environment, a combination of virtual representations of physical assets, such as machines and workspaces; mixed physical/virtual environments, such as operational processes; and purely virtual assets, such as datasets and software. By then, enterprises have widely adopted industrial variants of consumer technologies to help their businesses.

In 2030, the data center will be part of the WAN fabric, characterized by massive growth in storage and compute resources, and the network attachments to keep up with the demand to manipulate and transfer data.  To keep up with performance demands, data centers must have fully coordinated network and compute elements with intelligent self-monitoring and self-reporting through extensive AI for IT operations (AIOps). They will also be characterized by higher processing power, network-attached capacity, and performance needed to handle the inflow and outflow of torrents of data for organizations and consumers. With sustainability emerging as a key element of the consumer’s decision-making, data centers of 2030 will also be far more energy-efficient than they were 10 years prior. Trends like cloud-based security services will thrive to protect sensitive corporate assets.

Thus enterprises will continue to increase the traffic they push onto networks in 2030. They will also need to decide how best to handle the massive volumes of data collected by their operations.

The Private line + X opportunity for carriers

The enterprise digital transformation shaping up in the Net5.5G era will further drive carriers’ business growth. Carriers can extend service capabilities based on leased lines to significantly expand their B2B revenue streams.

At UBBF 2022, Kevin Hu, President of Huawei Data Communication Product Line, elaborated on the business combination of “Private line + X” for carriers during his keynote speech entitled, “Stride to Net5.5G, Boost New Growth.”

Private Line + Premium tenant-level virtual slicing private networks levering the automatic slicing technology, can improves the interconnection of backbone networks with higher quality comparing with MPLS VPN private line.

Private Line + Managed LAN/Wi-Fi extends operators’ capabilities from the traditional MPLS VPN private line to the LAN network of the SME to realize cloud management network services that integrate WAN, LAN, Wi-Fi and IOT.

Private Line + SD-WAN provides enterprises with fast cloud access experience through SD-WAN automation technology, extending the hybrid networking of MPLS VPN and other private line technologies.

Carriers’ business combination of “private line + X” need to meet a wide range of requirements, such as fast deployment, flexible multi-cloud connection, quality assurance, and tenant-level scheduling. This will accelerate the upgrade of transport networks’ basic capabilities in terms of protocols, deterministic quality, automation, and intelligence.

Technologies such as E2E SRv6, slicing, full-lifecycle automation, telemetry, and digital map can be used to build a basic transport network that features multi-cloud and multi-computing collaboration, committed SLA, multi-dimensional visualization, and predictable O&M.

To achieve 10 Gbps everywhere experience for end users and more than 10x bandwidth growth for real-time interactive applications, Green Ultra-broadband is the key. Carriers should deliver E2E ultra-broadband capabilities with 50GE to base station, 100GE to BNG, and 800GE to core. To tackle new challenges such as management of millions of data center servers, evolution will move towards an all-Ethernet converged architecture, supporting a single DC million-level server scale, 800GE interconnection, and promoting full life cycle automation with L4 ADN. This helps to ensure service experience in various scenarios and fully unlock the new computing power in the intelligent era. The development of Net5.5G requires the joint efforts of the industry, Kevin added, to promote industry consensus and standards, reserve key technology innovations, accelerate the pilot of business scenario innovation, and continue to explore new business boundaries.

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