A Gig Ticket: A Chance for Operators to Grow the Market for 1Gbps L3 Services

Recent innovations in customer premises equipment (CPE) mean that operators can now bring 1Gbps Layer 3 connectivity to a much bigger market. Just in time, too, explains Pravin Mirchandani, CMO, OneAccess Networks.

Industry dialogue about ‘the race to 1Gbps’ has, until now, largely focused on the challenge of laying fiber and how operators might backhaul via ‘dark fiber’ laid in the dotcom boom.

Huge strides have been made. In the US, ultra-fast networking university collective, Gig.U., revealed last year that ‘scores of American communities are now deeply engaged in deploying ultra-fast networks’. And it’s no secret that forward thinking players like Google and AT&T are intent on hooking up America’s major cities to fiber networks. Across Europe, challenged by terrain, borders and a fragmented marketplace, all-fiber connectivity has been harder to achieve but, like the US, fiber to the premises rollouts are well underway in most major cities.

It’s a good job, too. As the world’s businesses continue to migrate into the Cloud, the global market’s appetite for 1Gbps Layer 3 connectivity is growing, fast. Business adoption of increasingly bandwidth-hungry cloud apps and services is driving up speed requirements and putting pressure on operators to democratize 1Gbps connectivity by offering service contracts to the masses of distributed enterprises and SMBs at price points they can afford.

In this effort, operators have faced an equipment challenge. Cost effective 1Gbps in Carrier Ethernet has been around for some time but, until now, application-oriented ‘Layer 3’ 1Gbps connectivity has remained exclusive to the enterprise HQ. This is largely because the customer premises equipment (CPE) capable of delivering 1Gbps Layer 3 services has been ill-suited to mass deployment by operators. Having been designed for the Enterprise HQ, it is disproportionately expensive, big, cumbersome to deploy and laden with ports and features that operators simply don’t need. As a result, ultra-fast connectivity ‘for the masses’ has been neither economically nor operationally viable.

Fortunately, things are changing. Recognizing that the ultra-fast ‘beyond-the-HQ’ challenge is also an opportunity, next generation access platforms are starting to emerge from vendors like OneAccess which are purpose-designed to enable operators to address this huge marketplace.

These platforms are radically different to the norm. They are stripped down and lean, easy to transport and to deploy without teams of engineers on site. Crucially, they are also available at unmatched price/performance ratios, saving operators up to 70% on their conventional 1Gbps CPE; a saving they can build into the new, lower cost service contracts that will open the market.

By deploying the platform with each customer, operators can also deliver scalable service speeds, up to the magic 1Gbps. This means they can upgrade bandwidth provision in line with customer demand, and introduce a tiered ‘pay for what you need’ pricing model that enables them to market enterprise-class services to businesses at ultra-competitive price points. All of which, obviously, leads to some serious market differentiation.

All such services can be delivered in the conventional manner, or alternatively as virtualized network functions (VNFs), in accordance with each operator’s progress toward a fully virtualized SDN/NFV infrastructure.

This level of specialization is what operators need if they are to take full advantage of the work, time and money already invested in ultra-fast infrastructure. There’s no question that business demand for 1Gbps is growing. Finally, the operator community can be equipped with what they need to respond.