January 14, 2016 — This will be a watershed year for a number of vectors. It will, finally, see some actual physical deployments, or technological integration of new or emerging platforms. It will be a critical year in setting both the stage, and the pace to achieving those lofty goals of 2020.
Here is what this editor thinks will be happening in 2016:
LTE will one of those platforms that will see an uptick in deployment in 2016. Carriers will accelerate the pace of LTE and LTE-A on 4G networks.
There are improvements coming on LTE as well, like T-Mobile’s wideband LTE/extended range LTE, and Verizon’s XLTE. Also, the unlicensed version of this technology, LTE-U and LAA will see traction this coming year. The issues between these technologies and Wi-Fi will also see progress.
Other emerging technologies such as network function virtualization (NFV) and software define networks (SDN) will see significant technological progress. Not much will happen in actual deployments for a couple of years, even if there are some service providers claiming fixed scheduled deployment. There are still a lot of issues with interworking among vendor solutions, security and throughput.
To be workable, virtualized networks require network management and security solutions. And 100 gig pipes. Today, virtual appliances are facing performance challenges at such high data rates.; It isn’t a problem in the physical realm, but to make NFV operational, even at 100 gig speeds, means transferring physical solutions to virtualized environments. There is reason to be optimistic in 2016/2017 but realistically, 2018 is a better bet for deployments.
SDN is solid but integrating these networks is going to be a bigger issue than many think, especially with older analog equipment still out there. This cumbersome stitching together of various parts of the equation has delayed real deployments as has the lack of controllers and real SDN hardware.
But the challenges are being overcome and they are staging for deploying functioning networks in 2017/8. That will be the mission in 2016 – to make them all play nice and figure out how to deploy and integrate them.