Drivers for Increased Bandwidth Demand

Contributors: José Salgado, Rong Zhao, Nuno Monteiro, and Pauline Rigby

  Today, commercial triple-play service packages offer typical bandwidths between 20 and 100 Mbps to residential customers. According to Nielsen’s Law, which predicts that a high-end user’s Internet connection increases by 50 percent every year, one can envisage that a subscriber enjoying a 58-Mbps service in 2013 would require 130 Mbps by the year 2016. In addition, the European Commission has set a target that by 2020 half of all households in Europe should have broadband subscriptions at speeds of at least 100 Mbps.

Today’s technologies will have to be sped up and made far more intelligent in order to cope with demanding requirements for negligible latency and ultra-high bandwidth.
  Although current technologies, such as GPON, will easily meet the short- to medium-term needs of residential consumers, over the longer term they will struggle to answer the requirements of highly demanding services like HDTV, 3D-TV, multiple image and angle video services, growth in unicast video (versus multicast), cloud computing, telepresence, multiplayer HD video gaming and more.

Bandwidth demand increase rapidly (Diagram Source: swisscom)

Bandwidth demand increase rapidly (Diagram Source: swisscom)

  It is anticipated that the highest bandwidth demands will come from business users and mobile backhaul, which are already starting to take advantage of FTTH networks to deliver their data content. The higher bandwidth available via optical access networks represents an attractive, lower cost option compared to a leased line or dedicated point-to-point Ethernet connection.
  By 2020 it is estimated that there will be 50 billion connected devices using the fixed and mobile broadband network. This will create the networked society, in which everything benefiting from a connection will have one. From 2012 to 2017 the total amount of data exchanged between mobile users is expected to increase by 66 percent annually, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index. The tremendous growth in mobile data will place huge pressure on operators.

Mobile data traffic growth forcast (Diagram Souce: Cisco)

Mobile data traffic growth forcast (Diagram Souce: Cisco)

  Business services and mobile backhaul are expected to require sustained, symmetric data rates of 1 Gbps and beyond, while residential customers may be less demanding because require the peak bandwidths for shorter durations. Symmetric high-bandwidth pipes are not usually available over current-generation FTTH networks however, due to lack of bandwidth resources and the asymmetric design of existing PON technologies. Next-generation PON will address this issue while also providing the higher bandwidth and quality of service levels that these services require.
  Convergence of voice and data service on a single optical network has proven to be the right choice for regional and core networks; similar efficiencies could be achieved in the access network. Larger split ratios, increased range, wavelength availability and fibre reuse can enable operators to serve more customers with less investment. Next-generation PONs will enable the smooth evolution from existing optical access networks, which are mainly residential, to converged access networks comprising residential, business services and mobile backhaul.

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