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Optical/IP

Adtran Gets Attuned to Customer Needs

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Today's end users want Uber-like services as quickly as possible and that's putting pressure on service providers to step up their game when it comes to network agility and seamless operations for delivering new services, according to Jay Wilson, SVP of technology and strategy at Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN).

"All of us want an individual, real-time, on-demand user experience model," said Wilson. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of implications on the economic models and technology of what we refer to as better access networks -- when delivering video, OTT and things that are more sensitive to latency, the network has to operate seamlessly but at the same time it has to be cost-effective."

Contrasting the demand for new services, agility and speed is the fact that traditional CSPs aren't able to move as fast as the web-scale operators, and instead basically introduce new technology every 24 months, noted Wilson.

"Web-scale operators have compute and storage resources that are dropping in cost exponentially all the time. They are refreshing their data center networks in a way that they can keep that scaling down," he said. "Traditional telcos and cable MSOs have to try and address that problem. They have got to change the way they do things. They have got to have more efficient access networks."

Customers Want Personalized Services ASAP
Jay Wilson, SVP, Technology & Strategy, Adtran.
Jay Wilson, SVP, Technology & Strategy, Adtran.

DevOps and microservices are key to addressing the problem, said Wilson. "When you are introducing a new service into the network you want to minimize the time it takes to implement the new technology and you want to eliminate the disruption," he said. "Facebook, as an example, is doing releases about every hour on their platform and it's seamless to the user -- it doesn't disrupt your service. They don't take Facebook down for a day and a half to release a new service, people would have a fit."

In comparison, traditional operators today on average release new technology every 24 months, says Wilson. If they are going to introduce new services to a customer, it often requires a hardware upgrade. To give customers that individual user experience model, "automated network and service orchestration has to happen," said Wilson. "There really is no end-to-end programmability in the network today. You have to have something that orchestrates it so you have all the things moving together."

Indeed, much of the conversation here in Huntsville centered around speeding service delivery and changing the way service provider networks operate -- to get "all the things moving together," and Adtran's Subscriber Edge Tunable (SET) optical transceivers, which the company announced yesterday, take aim at making the fiber access network more flexible. (See Adtran Intros Tunable Optics for NG-PON 2.)

"Users want an instant dynamic user-controlled experience and that requires changes to the network, but you can't change if you have to send a tech to set up a new service," said Jared Cress, senior staff scientist, office of the CTO, R&D development at Adtran. "Service providers need automation either machine-to-machine or user portals driving dynamic services to stay competitive. Those user portals need to be simple and intuitive, spinning up services when and where you need them."

Tunables are about creating an agile physical layer that responds to changes in the software-controlled layer, noted Cress. "This is a transformation in the way access networks function," he said. "At the end of the day, it's about getting people the instantaneous access to whatever they want."

Customers are working with Adtran's SET optics, called Piano, with trials set for early next year, according to Cress.

The SET optics are part of the company's NG-PON2 solution, and when combined with the company's Mosaic, they add new capabilities to the access network, added Cress. "They are just one piece that fits into the big solution that enables the next generation of consumer experience." (See Adtran Pieces Together a Software-Defined Access Mosaic.)

— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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