What's New in Networking & Last Year's Model

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What's New in Networking & Last Year's Model

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 10, 2013

This column is about the old and the new, or, as it were, the new and the old.

That said, first I’d like to again talk about the subject of software-defined networking, or SDN. If you’re a regular reader of this magazine, or a close follower of the networking space, as I know you all are, you know that SDN is an area I’ve been covering closely in recent month and a topic that has received a good amount of attention in the industry overall. SDN is a disruptive new architecture that turns traditional thinking about networking on its head, approaching things from an application-first standpoint.

Recognizing the important new trend of SDN, INTERNET TELEPHONY parent company, TMC (News - Alert), early this year put on its first SDN Precon. The next SDN Precon, this time at Mandalay Bay, and co-located with ITEXPO Vegas will take place Aug. 26.

I’ve put together what I believe is a compelling program of topics and players for SDN Precon. That includes a talk by Ovum’s Mike Sapien, who will present his new study on SDN’s impact on enterprise services; analysis on various aspects of SDN by Frost & Sullivan’s (News - Alert) Ron Gruia; an update on SDN work at the ONF; and presentations and discussion from startups like Pica8 to industry giants like Cisco (among many others) on their own SDN strategies as well as SDN’s relationship with NFV, with applications, with network visualization, with network programmability and automation, and with overall network –and network provider ­­– transformation.

When you look at the SDN Precon agenda and the SDN Precon speaker lineup, you’ll want to head on over to the registration page to take advantage of what will be a great educational and networking opportunity. I hope to see you there.

OK, now that I’ve talked about the new, let’s talk about the old – or, perhaps more correctly, the new aspect of the old.

Reporter/editor types like me tend to get all excited about new networking solutions based on the latest technology. We typically are not all that revved up about existing but widely deployed stuff that represents the majority of networks and the bulk of value to the network owner. But, as I’ve said before, and as we all know, networks are not so much like the world of The Jetsons. Rather, they are more like the movie Blade Runner –that is, they tend to consist of a mix of the old and the new.

I was reminded of that in my recent reporting for this issue when I spoke with 3M (News - Alert) about copper.

With the subject of copper on the INTERNET TELEPHONY calendar for this issue, I was looking to find out what was new and exciting in this arena. I’d written fairly recently (in the December issue) about a new-ish thing called VDSL2 Vectoring, so when my discussion with 3M turned to this topic I was not so much interested in learning the basics of VDSL2 Vectoring – a technology that cancels noise on copper connections in a way that can improve data rates by up to 50 percent, as hearing about the latest developments on the VDSL2 Vectoring front.

JF Klein, access networks business manager for 3M’s communication markets division, responded that AT&T (News - Alert) is using the cabinets that it leverages to deliver consumer U-verse services (which are delivered via fiber to the node and copper to the consumer) to also feed small cells in the wireless heterogeneous network (aka hetnet). A lot of people thought small cell networks would be fed entirely by fiber, Klein explained. But this move by AT&T indicates that might not be the case and that, rather, small cells and hetnets could be new examples of applications that will give copper and other existing telco assets new life.

The case is really compelling for AT&T to reuse these relatively new cabinets, says Klein, and enjoy the cost savings of running copper to feed small cell radio units to support the need for bandwidth in the wireless.

On a related note, wireless service providers are also interested in using SDN in 4G networks and beyond.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi