Most of network professionals rely on fixed lines for provision of bandwidth for their networks. The very idea of using any type of wireless network for a corporate WAN is anathema because of the history of poor performance and low traffic predictability. At the same time, the cost of renting physical cable from monopoly-like telcos is expensive and inflexible.
But I’ve been reading white papers about the possible future of 5G networking and its becoming clear to me that the larger part of any private WAN (if you have one at all) is nearly certain to be wireless in the next ten years.
In the “Ten key rules of 5G deployment” white paper from Nokia Networks:
A 5G small cells deployment in 6-30 GHz band (cmWave) with a 500 MHz carrier bandwidth can provide hundreds of Gb/s/km 2 for 2025 and beyond.
That is hundreds of gigabits per second per kilometre.
The 5G standard uses an array of technologies to improve signal performance and reliability. Lets pick a few points:
- Spreading signal across 1 GHz of aggregated spectrum
- Small cell deployments – (A 5G small cells deployment in up to 100 GHz with 2 GHz carrier bandwidth can provide a Tb/s/km 2 for 2030 and beyond)
- Very large antenna arrays can be used to effectively compensate for the higher path loss at higher frequency bands.
The current pre-standard work on 5G includes the ability to use wireless to build WAN connections between towers and small cells. This means that even the mobile networks will use less fixed line networking and be able to deploy dedicated indoor small cell deployments to satisfy indoor capacity requirements beyond 2020. Yes, you can expect to install small cellular equipment inside your buildings with in the next ten years.
Low power is also a big issue. Current standards include Low Power Technologies to run an IOT devices on a single battery for 10 years
In a recent podcast with Viptela customers, we spoke about using SD-WAN connected to private MPLS circuit with a 3G Internet connection as backup. In real life operation, they got better performance and reliability from the 3G connection in most sites and now send critical data over the 3G network first. (Long term, the private MPLS network will be discontinued to reduce costs and replaced with DSL Internet).
The EtherealMind View
Here a couple of thoughts:
- Don’t sign 10 year contracts on private WAN services. WAN prices are falling rapidly and you are locking your company into high prices.
- Look for opportunities to trial 3G/4G networks for new sites, even if only temporarily to get practical information. This means getting new routers, or maybe even trialing a SD-WAN solution.
- Be flexible about the future. Networking hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years but its seem highly likely that a lot will change in the next five years.
This article first appeared in an Issue of the Human Infrastructure Magazine at Packet Pushers. You can signup to receive the magazine by email and for free by subscribing here.