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Optical Networks for 5G and Beyond

(5G-Oriented Optical Networks Consisting of Core, Metro, and Access Network Sections to Support Diverse Applications - U.S. National Institutes of Health)


Optimize Network Flexibility, Security, and Speed to Keep up with Increasing Demands. 


- Overview 

One of the biggest challenges facing the mobile industry is how to accommodate the incredible growth in data volumes and performance expectations in the coming decades. Clearly, in order for 5G to meet expectations, no single aspect of the technology needs to be reimagined - in fact, we must look at the entire system from top to bottom, without taking things for granted. This can be said to be the most radical evolution of wireless technology since the evolution from 1G to 2G. 

The underlying transport network provides all critical connectivity from the radio access network (RAN) to the packet core, which then connects to the public Internet.

In recent years, the role of optical access networks in mobile networks has become more and more important. With 5G/6G's demand for extreme bandwidth, coverage, synchronization and low latency, optical access networks will become more prominent. 

The success of future mobile networks is not just about new radio access technologies. The deployment of future wireless technologies will depend on the ability of the optical access network to seamlessly connect to the radio access network (RAN) and edge/cloud computing resources. 

Many technologies are currently being developed for optical networks to enable convergence and access to increase throughput, increase energy efficiency, and simplify network design, deployment, and operations.


- Enabling Optical Wired and Wireless Technologies for 5G and Beyond Networks

As 5G wireless networks roll out around the world, standard makers are turning to optical communications to enable high wireless bandwidth over short distances. Regardless of the wireless technology employed, fiber will be the supporting infrastructure for 5G networks. A new generation of optical networks is needed to unleash the full potential of 5G communications and to prepare the network infrastructure for beyond-5G communications. 

In 5G, the requirements of a new class of advanced high capacity, ultra-reliable and low-latency services (as autonomous driving, or augmented reality) are shaping the evolution not only of the wireless/radio segment, but also of the higher-tier optical wired segments, spanning from access to core.  

Optical networks are supporting a wide range of communication services including residential services, enterprise services, and mobile services. A typical end-to-end optical communication network consisting of core, metro, and access optical networks. The 5G wireless network brings to optical networking new requirements such as high bandwidth, low latency, accurate synchronization, and the ability to perform network slicing. 

The requirement for high bandwidth is driven by emerging wireless applications such as massive multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO), whereas the requirements for low latency and accurate synchronization are mainly driven by applications such as cloud radio access network (C-RAN) and coordinated multi-point (CoMP). The requirement for network slicing is aimed at optimizing the resource utilization for any given application. All these requirements are to be addressed in the so-called 5G-oriented optical networks.


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[New York City, New York - Civil Engineering Discoveries]

- Optical Networks For The Future Internet Backbones

Optical networking is the cornerstone of the Future Internet as it provides the physical infrastructure of the core backbone networks. Recent developments have enabled much better quality of service/experience for the end users, enabled through the much higher capacities that can be supported. Furthermore, optical networking developments facilitate the reduction of complexity of operations at the IP layer and therefore reduce the latency of the connections and the expenditures to deploy and operate the networks. New research directions in optical networking promise to further advance the capabilities of the Future Internet.

Optical networks provide the communication backbone of the Internet. As the Internet traffic has been growing exponentially, with more and more diversified services and applications, the capacity of optical networks has to expand accordingly. Internet’s core is getting fatter to meet our tech planet’s bandwidth demand. It uses fiber-optic technology to reach the fastest speeds available (e.g., 100Gbps, 200Gbps, 400Gbps) 

Today. Internet backbones are typically fiber optic trunk lines. The trunk line has multiple fiber optic cables combined together to increase the capacity. Fiber optic cables are designated OC for optical carrier, such as OC-48, OC-192 or OC-768. An OC-48 line is capable of transmitting up to 2.5 Gbps while an OC-192 can transmit up to 9.953 Gbps, an OC-768 can transmit up to 39.813 Gbps. 


Internet Backbones and Interconnection

Today there are many companies that operate their own high-capacity backbones, and all of them interconnect at various network access points (NAPs) around the world. In this way, everyone on the Internet, no matter where they are and what company they use, is able to talk to everyone else on the planet. The entire Internet is a gigantic, sprawling agreement between companies to intercommunicate freely.

For example, Google is one of those companies that owns a large chunk of the Internet. It has so many data centers around the world; it builds its own servers; it operates its own backbones that shuttle huge amounts of data across the world; it develops its own software for managing all of its data; it keeps banks of servers in the data centers of ISPs so that it can cache data closer to delivery; and more, much more.

The volume of user traffic on carrier networks is growing at between 20% and 40% per year and if this trend continues as expected then optical transport networks will become overstretched without a significant increase in capacity beyond that currently planned by network operators. The solution to this problem is likely to include a mix of new technologies, expanded bandwidths, network autonomy and many more fiber links, up to 10x in the next ten years. 



[More to come ...]


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