Tomorrow’s Tactile Internet Requires High-Performing, Pervasive and Secure Networks
During our recent team holiday party, while we were indulging in some delicious festive foods, the discussion quickly moved to recent news around autonomous vehicles and industry efforts to make driverless navigation a safe reality. Our party spread included decadent chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, which my taste buds confirmed were of the highest quality. But as I savored the holiday treats, my mind traveled to thoughts about new network quality and performance requirements for self-driving cars. There will be a need for cities to be covered with sensors. There is an imminent need for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) standards to be fully implemented. The number of autonomous vehicles worldwide will increase 40-fold from 390,000 in 2022 to 16.8 million by 2030, according to the Boston Consulting Group. We will need continued improvements on wired, wireless and mobile broadband download and upload speeds and ultra-low latencies for end users as well as many sensors and IoT connections. The foundation of tomorrow’s tactile Internet demands open and supercharged fixed and mobile broadband spigots.
Other verticals that will require tactile Internet capabilities are smart cities, smart homes, telemedicine, and connected education among others. VR/AR will play a critical role in enabling these. This will not only benefit consumers, but also lets enterprises and business network users add bandwidth-hungry applications. Video continues to be a driving force with the growth of IP traffic, with an increasing mix of Ultra-High Definition (UHD) content. HD and UHD streaming will be necessary to glean the precise location of an autonomous vehicle. And as more driverless vehicles are deployed in cities, metro and rural areas, pervasive elastic network demands and densities also need to be supported.
Wireline, wireless and mobile broadband will continue to have a complementary relationship with fiber being deployed closer and closer to the edge, Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 in cable, G.fast advancements on copper with DSL on the wireline front. Dense IoT deployments will also be supported by the new Wi-Fi 802.11ax standard, also popularly known as Wi-Fi6. Wi-Fi continues to rule the connectivity world indoors.
The most exciting development with mobile technologies that will assuredly provide ultra-low latencies and guaranteed jitter is 5G. 5G and its refinements will clearly help pull the industry forward. With large-scale commercial deployments starting as soon as 2020, IoT will be the primary initial beneficiary. We can expect more video, more connected device interaction, more (and more seamless) multimedia experiences, more enterprise and consumer applications to support on the network, and more reliance on the Internet. Among other IoT devices, wearables in particular are expanding beyond wrist-worn tech fashion into smart-apparel (providing tactile data) and virtual and augmented reality (i.e. visual data).
Networks are fundamentally changing. Network functions virtualization (NFV), both for customer-facing services and for internal operations, is widely underway. Software-defined networking (SDN), whether a management overlay designed for the telco (i.e., a programmable network) or a management overlay designed for the enterprise (i.e., software-defined wide area network or SD-WAN) is evolving and gaining broader adoption in public and private networks.
In the past few years, traditional providers of network services sometimes drive, but often are at the mercy of dramatic changes in their market landscape. In networking, the disruption centers are on programmable networks, network virtualization, software-defined platforms, and orchestration platforms that replace conventional network platforms and management. Going forward, new technologies such as autonomics and machine learning will force huge changes in the way mainstream network providers operate (more data/analytics, greater network insight and control, et al.) to overcome the complexities of managing the peaks and averages of the usage of billions of devices/connections and IP traffic.
Digital transformation also brings new responsibilities and safety implications with ever-changing cybersecurity issues and an expanding threat landscape (i.e., billions of new connections). The number of DDoS attacks continue to rise along with their peak attack sizes. The cost of stolen sensitive records continues to rise, with new increases due to stolen data from IoT devices and connections. Organizations across all sectors are constantly striving to improve the products and services provided to their customers and consumers. As new products and services are tested, and eventually become broadly available, the attack vectors expand. However, despite these constant transformations, according to Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights 2018/2019 study, fewer than 15% of organizations have developed a proactive approach to cybersecurity and digital risk, leaving most with reactive point products to address specific cybersecurity threats.
So, as we celebrate this holiday season, let’s think about how network transformation might apply to a traditional December journey. Santa Claus has many little helpers, but they need the skills to ensure that his sleigh (and its contents) are secure. Santa’s sleigh cannot afford to slow down either, with this being the busiest e-commerce and retail time of the year. Expeditious deliveries can only be made with intelligent edge networks and fiber-enriched (dancing sugar plums alone won’t get the job done).
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