2013 was a year that set the table for some exciting activities in the networking world. There were several technologies and movements that will have far-reaching impact over the next several years, or will fall by the wayside and become a trivia question “Hey, do you remember when people were excited about 3D TVs with special glasses?” This week is Procera’s 2014 kickoff meeting, and as part of our discussions, several technologies were highlighted by our team as important for 2014 and the future.
What were some of these technologies? I am glad you asked!
There were a lot of announcements about connected cars in 2013, and they will potentially have a big impact on how people travel in 2014 and in the future. Not only can cars now “phone home” with regular diagnostics information (or help parents cope when their children learn to drive), but travelers can have access to anything they need even when they are traveling – directions, restaurant reviews, and streaming media are good examples of common use cases. Although the connected car did not lead the way – trains, buses, taxis, and even airplanes have been rolling out connectivity for some time, but LTE seems to be accelerating the process for automobiles. At Mobile World Congress 2013, Procera demonstrated a connected car service where Spotify traffic is streamed to the car free-of-charge, which removes the need for a traditional car radio, makes any music available on demand for the traveler with no pre-loading of your CD player (yes they still exist) or your iPod, much less changing radio stations to find a song you like. A connected car will act like a WiFi hotspot or a tethered phone – consuming more data than a normal smartphone, and causing more network havoc. Worse – the car is moving fast, making location awareness and congestion management far more interesting for operators ! The service innovation options that are introduced with connected vehicles is massive, and could even have the potential to change the entire business model for how vehicles are sold.
One of the more talked about topics in 2013 was Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in service provider networks. No vendor or operator that I have talked has denied the value of virtualization and specifically the ETSI NFV specifications that have been driven by large network operators around the world. The biggest benefit that many operators see is in the flexibility and agility that is gained through virtualization, not necessarily the potential cost benefits. Imagine a world where you can deploy services or capabilities on demand, whenever needed, wherever needed. At the SDN World Congress in Germany in October, NTT gave an example that really resonated a real world solution – managing their network during a natural disaster. During a disaster, you may want to shift your network resources from data to voice because of the spikes in voice traffic that occur during disasters. NTT reported that they were only able to complete 10% of their calls after the Fukishima disaster, and they believed that they could have increased this to at least 25% if they had a virtualized solution deployed. At the same event, Procera demonstrated our Virtualized Network Function for our solutions, specifically demonstrating migration of an Internet Intelligence deployment. However, this was not just a demonstration of technology, but a foundational capability that enables new solutions and use cases for our technology. Imagine a network where you can deploy what services you want, wherever you want – and move them around in the network without installing any new hardware. Have a problem in New York? Activated a virtual instance and diagnose the problem. Now there is an issue in Los Angeles? Move that virtual instance to LA in seconds.
Internet of Things
In 2013, it felt like the Internet of Things finally started to become real. Wearables are everywhere, with fitness trackers leading the way. Google Glass got mainstream attention (not all of it good). Why is this important for network operators? In a nutshell – background noise. Think of a household Internet connection 3-5 years ago. You probably had a computer or two that checked email, some web browsing, maybe some YouTube views, gaming (maybe with a console), and a little social networking in a typical household. Now a household has tens of devices connected – many of them constantly connecting to the Internet for updates. My personal household is pretty scary already: I have on my home network four mobile phones, four tablets, five laptops, two computers, four consoles, four iPods (Touch), a NAS system, five network “infrastructure” devices, Chromecast, a connected BluRay Player, and a Smart TV. We have had as many as four video streams at time – plus email, Twitter, Facebook, and gaming. My wife and I both use fitness trackers, which are periodically uploading their data to the network. We still lack connected refrigerators, washer and dryer, toilets, furnaces, oil tanks, utility meters, and whatever else they want to connect to the Internet in our house, but I am sure I will have them eventually. What these devices will do is raise the ambient noise level on your broadband connection – going from maybe a few connections and kbps of data a your low point of usage to possible hundreds of connections and potentially hundreds of kbps of data that are ALWAYS active on your broadband connection. This will impact not only normal levels, but peak usage levels as well, so broadband operators will have to plan for this – especially as networks become more session aware (SDN anyone?), the capacity requirements will grow dramatically in the network. Our Analytics in Motion blog tracks some of the significant events that spike network traffic, but this trend will be huge in the future.
These are just three of the technologies that Procera believes will drive broadband networks worldwide in 2014, and all of these gained a great deal of momentum in 2013.
Topics: Broadband, SCTE, Subscriber Data, User Experience, Quality of Experience, Bandwidth Control, Cable Operators, Expert Insights, MSO, BYOD, Cable-Tec Expo, Bring-your-own-device, Streaming Video, Subsciber Video, Zero Rating