As we move into the exciting era of 5G and witness an ever-growing number of new devices coming online, the transport network is finding its overall capacity tested in ways we’ve never seen before. Millions of mobile voice, data, and video users and millions more Internet of Things (IoT) devices connecting 24 hours per day means handling this traffic load will present a real challenge in the future.

Advancements in 5G make it possible to connect industrial IoT, cars, virtual education, smart communities, industrial machinery, and robotics around the world, all piped through the same ultra-fast network. Users can download full-length UHD movies in mere seconds, and Virtual and Augmented Reality (V/AR) applications operate seamlessly.

In 2009 there were less than one billion IoT devices making a network connection, but studies estimate more than 10 billion IoT devices by the end of 2020, for a total of 21.2 billion overall connections worldwide. That’s a lot of network traffic! It is indeed an exciting time for technological growth, with challenging new opportunities waiting around every corner.

Streamlined Intelligence Pushed into the Backhaul

Over the last few years, we’ve invested heavily in bringing the benefits that make Cisco worldwide market share leaders in Core and Edge Routing deeper into the network. Our service provider-focused IOS-XR operating system and other advancements now let us reach all the way to the cell site router, right where the wireless customer hits the ground. And we’ve gone one step further by creating a flexible transport solution that integrates fronthaul and backhaul networks, combining the various wireless and wired technology into a packet-based SDN for 5G.

This xHaul portfolio is at the core of our converged, end-to-end packet infrastructure, from the access layer into the application, wherever it may reside (more on that later). We utilize an ultra-malleable Segment Routing underlay and packet-based Quality of Service (QoS) to provide the stringent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that critical 5G applications require. This approach offers flexibility, scalability, and reliability, with lean operational costs.

Cisco xHaul capabilities give service providers a wide range of flexible but stringent SLAs. We want the mobile operator to monetize 5G services, and for that, you need an agile solution in the network underlay, such as our proprietary segment (or source-based) routing.


Reduced Latency Makes for Happier Customers

The lion’s share of latency on networks is caused by distance; about 5.5 microseconds for every kilometer the traffic travels. If you’re in the network today and you live in Los Angeles, but you want to use an application housed in San Francisco, you’re talking about 400 miles (times five microseconds), and that really adds up. The distance creates a latency that spoils the real-time end-user experience, especially with gaming and V/AR that must be seamless to operate effectively.

Most of the use cases for 5G applications require very low latency, meaning if you’re immersed in V/AR and walking through Rome, when you turn your head toward that image of the Colosseum it needs to be seamless up and down, left to right, for a completely real-time experience. It must be displayed faster than your brain can react. If the image flickers, the user will take the goggles off and forget it.

In order to achieve minimal latency, the application itself must be close to the consumer so it can reach the end-user quickly enough to prevent degradation of the experience. That is the major service-provider advantage because they own the infrastructure and are so close to the consumer.

We distribute applications and route traffic to meet application demand and their SLAs. On the other hand, the traffic that isn’t latency-sensitive, such as video streaming, gets routed differently so as not to affect that service. In this way, we utilize the network in a much more intelligent way than ever before.

Segment Routing Opens Many Doors (and Windows)

Our engineers invented Segment Routing, we launched it in 2013 and we continuously improve upon it. With segment routing, the Software-Defined Networking (SDN) controller directs the traffic on a completely stateless, flexibly defined path. This is the underlying technology enabling slicing in the transport layer.

This solution actively monitors latency, and if there is any change due to higher congestion, for example, the traffic is rerouted in an automated fashion without having an operations person manually configure that change. Because it is fully stateless, we can have many SLAs across these secure networks, which ties into cost saving for your business. We accommodate multi access with wired, wireless, and business services all converged on the network.

Segment routing enables service providers to deliver high speed, secure, near-zero latency content to their customers. It’s an interesting time in the world of 5G technology, and we’re excited to offer a wide range of quality products and services to support its growth.



Ben Colling

Manager, Sales

Global Service Provider, EMEAR