Optical connectivity solutions at the network edge

25th October 2019
Alex Lynn

With ever-increasing capacity requirements and the complexity of the 5G network, operators need to invest in the development of their networks now to ensure they can withstand the capacity upsurge expected in the future, warns Anthony Clarkson, Technical Director at ProLabs.

5G is expected to bring extraordinary transformation, benefiting entire economies and societies. With its combination of higher speeds, lower latency and greater capacity, 5G offers the potential to reinvent business with the capability to launch new products and services, enter into new markets and increase productivity, making future-proofed network infrastructure critical.

“5G will catapult mobile to become a ‘general purpose technology’, equal with electricity and automation. This will have a transformational impact on the economy and many industries and operators need to be ready for the surge in business demand and revenue opportunities that will follow,” said Clarkson.

While South Africa has delayed in allocating both 4G and 5G radio spectrum, network providers must act now to ensure the networks are ready for future 5G requirements, advised Clarkson. From a practical perspective, 5G will demand more bandwidth per cell. “The increase in speed from 10G to 25G will be critical to support the additional bandwidth required for 5G services,” he added.

25G networking has become the building block of enterprise and data centre network upgrades. The current trend of 100G upgrades are built on 25G lanes, delivering cost-effective 100G networks that are capable of meeting future network upgrade standards.

In contrast to 40G, 25G is being introduced right to the edge in Network Interface Controllers (NICs) and switches, instead of a line side upgrade. “Unfortunately, simply installing a SFP28 transceiver into a Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) switch port does not simply upgrade a port to 25G. Edge devices must also be upgraded to support 25G,” explained Clarkson.

ProLabs, however, proposes a better option to maximise existing assets while simultaneously planning for the future. Advances in transceiver technologies, like those provided by ProLabs, allow enterprises and data centres to upgrade portions of their network to 25G while deferring upgrades on other portions into the future.

The ProLabs SFP 10G/25G transceiver is capable of connecting at 25G or 10G. When installed in a distribution or aggregation switch, the SFP 10G/25G transceiver can connect over existing cabling with either a 10G SFP+ or 25G SFP28 transceiver installed in edge devices. This approach allows data centres and enterprises to align 25G upgrades of edge devices and NICs with time and budget constraints.

“Our 25G solutions offer enterprises and data centres an upgrade path aligned with future network technology, while reducing the cost of network cabling upgrades," added Clarkson. “By deploying these technologies, operators can be sure that their infrastructure is set to meet the capacity upsurge of the future.”

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