LAS VEGAS -- Calix Connexions -- Jaws' Chief Martin Brody needed a bigger boat. Verizon needs a better network.
That was the comparison Lee Hicks, vice president of Network Planning at Verizon, drew during his keynote during Calix Connexions in Las Vegas this week. While Brody and his team fought for their lives against a great white shark, Hicks and his team combat a less visible -- but perhaps equally challenging -- foe: a constant barrage of increased customer demand for faster, better bandwidth battering the hull of an aging network.
About two years ago, Hicks' department began reviewing Verizon's current and future network demands, looking to design a new architecture built to support next-generation needs with next-gen technologies.
"I'm not sure if many of you remember that, where Chief Brody is feeding chum into the water and all of a sudden the shark shows up and he realizes he's going to need a bigger boat," Hicks said. "When my team and I were looking at these thoughts a couple of years ago and could see them coming, we said, 'Well, okay. We're going to need a better network.' So how are we building that better network?"
Verizon considered subscribers' existing usage patterns, as well as where the market was heading. The service provider wanted to unify demand and delivery under one network, eliminating silos in order to accelerate services, reduce costs, improve knowledge-sharing and enhance profitability, said Hicks.
"If you look at what's going on inside our customers' homes, we're seeing traffic doubling every two years at peak, and our customers' per-subscriber growth grew 40% just this last year alone," he said. "The average US home has 12 connected devices today, up from five just a year ago, so that growth is exploding as well. We see smart home devices growing from 231 million today to 1.5 billion by 2021. There's a lot of stuff going on in the home."
Enterprises likewise want more from providers and broadband, as businesses switch to Ethernet services from copper, Hicks noted.
"We're seeing a 12% to 18% growth in connections this year, driven a lot by folks trying to connect to the cloud using technologies like software-defined WAN," he said. "Those cloud workloads, as they're moving from private cloud into the public cloud, are also driving this."
Finally, Verizon's wireless operations have undergone triple-digit growth over the last three years, primarily due to video consumption, Hicks said. In the next 12 years, 77% of all demand will be video demand, he said, adding that social networking also propels network usage and demand.
These user demands translate into the need for "deeper and deeper fiber," augmented by self-organizing networks (SON) and outdoor distributed antenna systems (oDAS), Hicks said. Verizon also plans to move its networks from macro cells to small cells and centralized radio access network (RAN) technologies, he said.
Verizon developed a multi-prong strategy that centers on simplicity, based on a bed of deep fiber. The third component: new access network technologies such as NG-PON2.
"We're going to blend in software control and automation to help operate the network more efficiently. We're going to add cloud-based services to that network," Hicks said. "And then finally we're going to do something that we as Verizon have not done well in the past: We're going to clean up after ourselves. We're going to do a massive migrate and decommissioning of our old legacy networks."
Verizon will provide six network transport services to build a base for all its products, he continued. These include dark fiber; Layer 2 services such as E-Line and E-LAN; Layer 3 services like VPNs and Internet access; and cloud-based services. In addition, Verizon will add fiber under its One Fiber initiative, which addresses the needs of all customers and the entire company at one time. In the past, Verizon had separate, siloed plans for business units such as enterprise and wireless.
One Fiber supports Verizon's deployment of fiber around the country, Hicks said. It drives affordability and accelerates implementation, helping the service provider build a stronger foundation for its 5G initiatives, he added.
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