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November 20th, 2013, Vol:1

Editor's Words

By Sridhar Pai, ceo, Tonse Telecom

Read online: click here

Packet Transport: India’s Weak Links, Solutions

More often than not, the radio takes the bulk of importance when it comes to wireless network planning, capex, operational resources. Most likely, the core network comes next. Invariably the radio and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) discussions cloud everything else and perhaps what is left behind is 'transmission.' However, this most important part of the network is really what brings together the radio and core, and everything else in between. Next Generation Packet Transport is Light Reading India's annual event dedicated to the transport layer covering challenges in the segment; the innovations and technology changes coming up in the transport layer, and how it is expected to adapt in the new 4G world of small cells. The event was held at both Gurgaon and Mumbai and was attended by most senior transmission executives of large and mid-sized wireless players in India.

One of the key outcomes of the general discussion on transmission was that most of the wireless operators feel that the need for deep fiberization in both cities and hinterlands is paramount. Unless fiber reaches out to as many locations as possible, it will be difficult to expect high-quality backhaul to be provisioned. Currently, backhaul is usually the weakest link in ensuring fulfilling customer experience. The cost of laying out fiber having gone up several folds, it may now become imperative to share fiber—similar to sharing of tower infrastructure, and perhaps there is time for a third-party fiber company to lay it out. The discussion of National Fiber Optic Network coming up to the village level is a possible solution but it still leaves the cell-site level optical interface open to questions.

With 4G small cells, the need for backhaul only complicates itself to a new level as small cell ratios against macro sites could vary widely and to support backhaul requirements will be difficult. India has its own challenges with fiber and has predominantly been a microwave country, simply due to the lack of available fiber. Microwave solutions (TDM, hybrid and packet radio) up to 28 GHz and above have been rampantly deployed quite successfully, especially over long haul links and have been delivering reasonably good throughput over the years. A question, of course is of scalability and availability of additional channels in those bands; of moving to higher bands and the regulatory approvals and equipment capex for newer bands.

The discussions on packet transport and of evolution of core transport technologies from NG SDH & EoSDH to packet optical transport were interesting too. The unique need of India is that one cannot fully migrate to a new transport platform but needs to support all generations of transport based on payload (which is still largely voice—about 90 percent in some cases) and still support data (which is growing rapidly).

Idea Cellular's transport case study of introducing 100G packet core in national long distance first and then upgrading metro rings was a particularly interesting discussion. How is it that in some cases it makes sense to go straight to 100G skipping 40G? The answer is not simple—and is uniquely tied to individual operator situations, current traffic mix, cost of long distance transport, points of termination, business goals and economics.

The session on SDN and NFV, its potential impact on transport infrastructure in particular was a unique one. The potential of SDN and its promise, and its benefits and ability to transform the telco landscape, was brought out in great detail. The discussion was driving a simple idea home: SDN might well be the technology solution that would eventually allow the operator community to innovate, create new services, deploy fast innovation in response to customer behavior in real time without being tied to proprietary platforms and finally eliminate economic barriers by moving to standard compute platforms that offer computational resources on-demand and transport resources that are optimal.

Read online: click here

Sridhar Pai runs Tonse Telecom, a Bengaluru-based telecom research and consulting house that is a research partner to Light Reading India.

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About Tonse Telecom

Tonse Telecom is a research, consulting and advisory services organization focusing on the India telecom sector. Tonse Telecom enables telecom equipment vendors, ISVs, infrastructure developers and investors for success in the Indian telecom marketplace.

Tonse Telecom has onboard, a team of reputed senior industry executives and consultants who provide advisory services on specific projects. Tonse covers a broad spectrum of telecom technologies that include 3G, Wi-Fi /BWA, IMS, FMC and Triple Play, VoIP, Mobile VAS, End-device Applications and Mobile Content.

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