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The need for speed

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The need for speed

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Cisco’s global forecast suggests the boom in network traffic has a long way to go, with 29% annual growth until 2016 plus a continuing shift toward mobile users. Also predicted are 19 billion more connected devices, a fourfold increase in average broadband speeds, and a total 3.4 billion Internet users.

Growth is a law of nature, but most things tend towards a comfortable limit after which it is more practical to make more efficient use of what is available rather than keep adding more. There is little sign of this happening to network capacity: in fact 2014 has been single out by IDC as a year when the demand for wireless bandwidth is set to explode with an increase of nearly 200% in one year. The reasons suggested include the rapid growth of video, peer-to-peer file sharing, web browsing and other more powerful applications.

Video is really catching on for we humans are a very visual species. YouTube may have started as a handy little service for sharing home video clips, but now there is hardly an online store that does not link to a YouTube video as part of its “shop window”, or launch an automatic flow of sound and video as you browse. Video and voice not only demand quantity, they need quality – and HD video optimized across platforms and devices is also set to soar this year, while social networking evolves from simple messaging to the exchange of images and video calls. Again, Cisco reports that mobile video now represents over 50% of all mobile traffic, and is still growing.

As for other drivers: web browsing is already established and applications continue to expand, but the biggest additional factor at present is cloud computing. It’s a major new pressure on the network because of its symmetrical demand for as much upload as download capacity. Traditional ADSL (Asymmetric DSL) takes advantage of the fact that most traffic with the Internet is in downloads, and this is no longer adequate for serious cloud usage.

Finally, peer-to-peer traffic is more a cloud on the horizon, because the real threat will come with increase in machine-to-machine traffic. This is already happening in datacentres between an exploding population of virtual machines, but the impact on networks in general will only take off in a big way with more smart devices such as Internet connected domestic appliances. Remember, data services often operate in the ‘always on’ mode where the device is apparently idle but still connected while background apps upload or download data.

This problem is serious – especially for communication service providers (CSPs) who fail to deliver quality and speed to their customers. In the public domain that CSP will face the penalty of customer churn. For the enterprise’s internal CSP, or IT department, the threat is just as serious, because business is increasingly data-centric, with almost every process computed, plotted, recorded, analysed, replayed and stored in the cloud.

All this adds up to one inescapable conclusion: massive and reliable bandwidth is needed to keep any organisation competitive in today’s connected world. The problem is not so much in the fixed LAN where high speed Ethernet is the norm, but rather in the external links to the Internet or between sites, and WiFi provision for mobile devices.

This is where Vertel can help. Today’s high speed microwave delivers point to point connections on a par with optical fibre, but without the time and cost penalties of trenching and laying cable. You don’t just benefit from a fast and reliable solution, the same advantages make it easier to add redundancy for critical situations.

When it comes to delivering business quality WiFi on a grand scale, consider Vertel’s Smartfi solution, based on carrier grade equipment with adaptive antennas for consistent coverage indoors and out. Specifically designed to for arenas and large enterprises where wireless networking is no longer a gimmick but a vital, mission-critical service, Smartfi is a managed service requiring no dedicated in-house staff.

As the broadband pressure grows you have a simple choice: upgrade capacity now, or wait until business grinds to a halt and you are forced to do so.