The insatiable demand for bandwidth

The insatiable demand for bandwidth

Jon Nowell, Head of Technology Strategy

Jon Nowell, Head of Technology Strategy

During the past 12 months here at TalkTalk Business we have been sharing our vision for ‘The Network of the Future’ and how we will all see new and evolving technologies disrupt the established telco industry.

These innovations are born out of the challenges we face today.

At TalkTalk Business’ Symposium 2016 event, we explored some of the key challenges the industry faces, such as the insatiable demand for bandwidth.

There are an increasing number of mobile devices; some operated by people and others which aren’t and are often classified under the Internet of Things (IOT). There are also hundreds of thousands of websites, workflows and cloud‐based services which generate a vast range of voice, data and video content that flows through the network.

Between 2009 and March 2016 we’ve seen traffic increase on TalkTalk’s network by over 500%.

That’s massive. Just think about it. Could you really imagine other infrastructure networks such as road, rail, electricity, water or gas cope with this level of increased demand?

But cope with it we must. Connectivity is the lifeblood of British business and as companies demand ever-increasing amounts of data they need robust, affordable infrastructure they can rely on.

So how are TalkTalk investing in our network to meet this demand?

As an owner and operator of one of the largest networks in the UK, TalkTalk Business’ investment is aligned to support these network demands.

Over £200m has been invested in our network, at the Core, Edge and Access in the last 3 years and there are several years of further investment that we are committed to. One of the key projects at the heart of this investment is a programme we call ‘Network Brilliance’.

 


 

As Gary Steen, our CTO described at our Symposium 2016 event; the Network Brilliance programme focuses on 6 key areas:

1.) Network Strategy

There is a lot taking place under the Network Strategy umbrella, but I think the two most exciting developments are;

Our new Juniper Edge network that already enables a 10 fold increase in raw capacity and sets us up for yet further capacity increases and Software Defined Networking (SDN).

Secondly there is Dark Fibre strategy. With the exponential growth in demand for bandwidth it won’t be long before a 10Gb requirement becomes 100Gb. With the recent Ofcom ruling in regard to Openreach opening up their dark fibre network, it’s a very exciting time. Stay tuned, as I’ll be covering Dark Fibre in more detail in a future Blog.

2.) DLM – Dynamic Line Management

Whilst fibre networks operate at the same capacity throughput 24x7, copper is much more temperamental; the time of day, temperature, moisture, length of the copper, all can affect and interfere with it.

Whilst TalkTalk Business believes in fibre as the future, we are investing in a new DLM platform to further boost the performance of copper connections as they will be here to stay for some time to come.

3.) DNS – Domain Name System

DNS is a game of inches. The time it takes for a DNS to receive a request for web address like www.google.com or www.apple.com and provide the relevant page to the user is milliseconds. It’s small, but speeding this up is a significant factor in improving the user’s perception of network speed.

TalkTalk is introducing a whole new DNS capability this year to shave some time off this response speed. Certainly, this is a small marginal gain. But adding together all those inches means we go the extra mile for our customers.

4.) Access Network Topology

TalkTalk is currently planning for a new Access Technology which will replace the equipment in all of our 3000+ exchanges.

It’s a large piece of work that will increase the capacity of these exchanges and simplify the network topology. Simplification is important because it leads us onto a world of Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) & SDN, which will allow us to improve both our network performance and agility and allow us to handover more network insight and control to our customers.

5.) Capacity Expansion Modelling

With demand for bandwidth growing, our forecasting and investment needs to also increase. We are improving our forecasting and modelling tools to identify our points of upgrade much earlier, so that we can manage future challenges well in advance of customer demand.

6.) Proactive Experience Monitoring

We’ve just completed an 18 month programme to install a piece of technology called a JDSU at every one of our exchanges.

The JDSU mimics the signal between each premise and the exchange, allowing it to monitor the performance and identify noise and faults. In doing so it proactively identifies issues and then takes action to fine-tune the connection.

This JDSU network deployment is the largest in the UK, allowing us to carry out these pro-active improvements for each customer premise. It also moves us further on the road to a network that is ‘self-healing’; automatically resolving issues much quicker than an engineer can do manually.

 


 

As you can see, there’s a lot in our Network Brilliance programme to help us stay one step ahead of the bandwidth demand curve and deliver an exceptional experience for customers with both Legacy and Next Generation Voice and Data.

But this isn’t just our challenge, it’s one shared by the industry and our customers. How is your business rising to it?

I am always interested in two-way innovation conversations if you’d like to find out more contact your Account Manager or email.

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