The below article was recently published in The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organisations’ CANCION Second Quarterly Magazine of 2009.
“Why Transform your Network?”
By Jennifer Marron
Marketing & Communications Specialist, WireIE Holdings International Inc.
The Internet and the World Wide Web have revolutionized society. The quality of a user’s experience on the web depends directly on the quality of the communication channel. Today, Next Generation Networks are revolutionalizing the world of communications and are becoming more common, as both consumers and businesses are realizing their long list of benefits. These beneficial qualities include using a great variety of devices and experiences, while promoting economic development at the same time. An opportunity exists to leverage this technology transformation throughout the Caribbean. These networks, supported by the Internet Protocol (IP), have the capability to transport any information or service we associate with the web.Today, IP has become an adopted standard for almost any service or application. IP-based networks are both flexible and economical methods of creating a solution that integrates with established and future network technologies. Transforming to an all-IP network is very beneficial as it extends network coverage, enables operational simplification, allows for rapid disaster recovery, and reduces costs. It is therefore time for the Caribbean to make a change to an all-IP network platform.
Network extensions are an essential part of Next Generation Networks as they improve and extend coverage and coverage areas. These wireless extensions allow client bases to be built for approximately one third of the price of extending traditional cable-based infrastructure. It is difficult and very costly to extend cable-based infrastructure in the Caribbean, as it involves trenching, and rigging for the build of poles, cables, and plants in a very diverse and environmentally sensitive ecosystem. These traditional approaches are quite vulnerable to weather-related damage, and subsequent network downtime. Legacy infrastructure based on Time Division Multiplex (TDM) limits the operator to circuit-switched voice and relatively inflexible data configurations. On the other hand, IP extensions have infinite flexibility. Extending existing networks also allow local clients and users to access the Internet and web-based services at exponentially increased speeds. Additionally, the “IP pipe” empowers multimedia experiences – bringing the user way beyond voice. In addition, IP networks offer significant network redundancy and diversity configurations, and are much more flexible and reliable overall.
The Caribbean has a unique need for rapid deployment of communications networks in the event that a hurricane hits a certain region and connectivity is lost. Being non-reliant on traditional legacy infrastructure allows networks to be up and running quickly if disaster or weather-related incidents occur. IP-based wireless remote sites are fast, easy, less expensive, and have more “plug and play” features than what we are currently used to with traditional technologies. Furthermore, an all-IP philosophy has the greatest degree of design flexibility while also retaining relative simplicity, meaning it can be set up to cater to the specific environment. Channelized voice and circuit switching infrastructure is also no longer needed, since IP utilizes Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) instead. IP networks also enjoy a very wide selection of network equipment choices at comparatively low prices. They facilitate simplified device connectivity and configuration in a deployment process that is repeatable. Therefore, relying on an IP-based network rather than legacy infrastructure-based networks allows for rapid recovery time should a hurricane or other weather-related incident occur.
The primary benefit of adopting an all-IP network are the cost savings, in that they diminish hardware costs and offer operational improvements since one converged network is used, rather than a patchwork of disparate networks using other less standardized equipment and protocols. This process is much simpler and costs less. New applications can also be added and used, which is another benefit from switching to IP. These applications can be used as a source of new revenue by providing value to enterprises and users. Among other things, IP standards allow for seamless interconnectivity of both network devices and user devices. An example of this is demonstrated utilizing the power of “cloud” computing where applications are served, documents are created and collaborated upon within the application, and ultimately stored, a popular example being Google Docs. on the Gmail platform. Cloud computing allows users to store files on the web, making it an ideal environment from which to share and collaborate. Innovations such as the cloud computer dramatically reduce the cost of end-user equipment (e.g. Netbooks). With these kinds of networks, many different users are able to communicate via a standardized connection. The web offers enriched services targeting capabilities of new wireless mobile devices. Rich onboard applications draw on web resources wirelessly. Web browsers’ power mobilizes the web, which allows for infinite capabilities for the end-user. IP is also essentially future-proof, in that it allows growth to be a relatively seamless, non-disruptive task. Therefore, transforming to an IP network allows for cheaper operations and network maintenance overall.
Next generation IP-based networks are rapidly emerging as the fundamental starting point in exploiting the full potential of the web. This technology is now reducing costs without sacrificing any capabilities or benefits from older IT platforms. IP networks address many of the problems associated with traditional wireless technologies, as well as providing an elegant solution for today and tomorrow’s future communication needs. IP-based architecture creates great opportunities for new applications, in that the ones that were previously impossible to implement can now be successfully launched and completely integrated. Transforming into IP-based networks permits virtually effortless interconnection with neighbouring networks – even if it is a different operator. However, the length of time required for this overall transformation will depend on the size of carrier. WireIE can add value to a carrier as we offer turnkey solutions, network design and deployment. WireIE is a global leader in providing professional services and innovative solutions for the wireless network operator. WireIE offers a consistently high level of skill and experience in the design, deployment, and management of radio access, backhaul, and IP core network solutions. Where appropriate, WireIE will support a legacy network’s transition to IP by designing customized hybrid solutions. Therefore, IP-based networks – the most popular network protocol in the world – are truly the way of the future, as their benefits far outweigh those of traditional networks. There has never been a better time for the Caribbean to take advantage of the benefits of IP networks in order to realize the full potential.