It is clear that our insatiable appetite for bandwidth, whether over a wired or wireless network, is fed only at the right price. However let’s be clear it is not a choice of price alone, but a decision on what bandwidth or capacity one gets for the price or the ‘cost per bit’ of the solution.

Remember what information technology was like 20 to 30 years ago?  A cross-country telephone conversation would often start with “please hurry, I’m calling long distance”.  Documents were read over the phone when content was urgent.  A “fast” PC connection was one where the ASCII text would display faster than you could read it.  Electronic typewriters with memory were hot items! How drastically things have changed, but through the changes one thing has been apparent, optimizing the cost per bit has been a factor in technology adoption whether you have been aware of it or not.

In my opinion, decisions made on high performance infrastructure solutions should be no different. The impact an infrastructure solution has on facilitating a better cost per bit is a simple yet effective measure of the solution’s value.

In both wired and wireless voice and data networks, disrupting technologies are having a big effect on the cost structure of transporting a bit over any distance. Three basic technologies - microelectronics, storage, and photonics - are disrupting the communications market place.


  • Microelectronics - or chips - are continuing to follow the famous Moore’s curve and are doubling in processing capability roughly every 18 months. As dramatic is the Moore’s curve, it is the slowest of the technology curves.

  • Storage capacity – the amount of storage capacity on a given chip is doubling every 12 months driving increases in Storage Area Network, Direct Access Storage, and Network Attached Storage connectivity and demand for access to the network

  • Optical transmission capacity is doubling every 9 months - by increasing the capacity of a single wave length of light and by putting multiple wavelengths of light on a single fiber.  Presently, 1 Terabit systems are already available.  1Terabit is enough capacity for all the voice calls that take place around the world at any point in time. Developers know how to build 10 Terabit systems.  The underlying technology will allow at least 100Terabits.


These technology changes along with the introduction of IP networks are driving the march to next generation networks, and I believe only the infrastructurally enabled will survive.

 

Now that’s a great question to ask – ‘Is your network infrastructurally enabled?’ 

Network owners need to put in the most coverage, capacity and bandwidth they can justify, knowing it will quickly be consumed.  Our imagination of how it will be consumed is only limited by our wallet. The statement “I want it” gets balanced with “can I afford it”.  Once the degree of need overcomes the price/affordability hurdle, the purchase is made.

Network designers are seeking to rid network architectures of costly and increasingly unnecessary hierarchies, while optimizing their networks to eliminate delay. Like the virtually free transistors on a microprocessor, latency-free networks and virtually free bits will spur the development of new applications. When transport costs are no longer a barrier to market adoption, the demand for these applications mushroom – resulting in a second order impact of increased capacity demand.

What has this to do with network infrastructures? Well, it is clear that increased bandwidth is emerging in the wide area and access networks, both fixed line and mobile, and at a low cost per bit. The hardware at home, at work and on the go will continue to increase its capability with a reduced cost per bit, and the electronics that link this hardware to the network are increasing in performance with a reduced cost per bit. So surely the trend for network infrastructures is no different. The right choice of infrastructure should take into account it’s ability to optimize the cost per bit of the network.

I believe CommScope’s infrastructure solutions have the ability to optimize the cost per bit per meter in the new era of being ‘infrastructurally enabled’. This ability has to be one of the foundations and business drivers for the adoption of any infrastructure technology.

About the Author

James Donovan

James Donovan is Vice President of the CommScope Infrastructure Academy. James joined CommScope in 1993 and has held positions in Sales, Technical, Marketing, Training and Business Development and served most recently as VP of Digital and Creative Services for CommScope. James oversees the CommScope Infrastructure Academy, which is CommScope’s partner and customer training platform. Prior to joining the company, he held positions at GEC, ITT and Alcatel. He holds a Masters Degree in Engineering and a BSc Honors degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

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