Over last 20 years in the telecom sector, I have seen networks built and swapped our many times over -- starting with PDH/SDH systems in the 90s, then ATM systems, and now the ongoing evolution to packet to address changing business demands. Service providers have started to launch network transformation projects that will allow them to keep pace with the rapidly growing 4G network base here in India, as well as prepare for the coming of 5G.

Service providers are facing challenges with charges on AGR (adjusted gross revenue), high spectrum costs, and tax issues. On the other hand, new technologies like 5G, IoT, and AI are already demanding new investments for massive increase in bandwidth and a combination of network and edge-cloud deployments in access networks.

While the benefits of transforming networks are clear – reduce network footprint, energy and support costs; scale to support new apps, services and use cases; and enhance end-customer experience – there are also significant change management and service continuity challenges to get over.

The ecosystem is under stress and could benefit from new ways of reducing CapEx and OpEx outflows. The cost-reduction curve of chipsets, network equipment, and existing technology will have its limitations and may not be able to drive the required ROI on business cases.

While the benefits of transforming networks are clear – reduce network footprint, energy and support costs; scale to support new apps, services and use cases; and enhance end-customer experience – there are also significant change management and service continuity challenges to get over.

I see four critical reasons to start execution these transformation projects:

1) Legacy networks are increasing technology and business risks - In the past, it was possible to keep older legacy infrastructure running without too much trouble. However, we’re getting to the stage where overbuilding new networks on legacy kit is no longer an option, mostly because the risk of failure is too great. In some cases, equipment is so old and spare parts so scarce that the infrastructure is no longer supportable.

2) High network costs are eating into already slender margins - As margins on voice and data services continue to contract, the industry is facing a mounting challenge in terms of balancing revenues versus operating costs. You now need new ways to scale your networks cost effectively and to minimise ‘per-bit’ transport costs. Doing this quickly is the only way to protect your profits, both now and in the future.

3) New apps need more capacity than legacy networks can provide - The next-generation of bandwidth-hungry applications, from IoT and AI, to 5G backhaul, need agility for reliable delivery. To achieve this, networks need to provide scalability on demand to ensure that new services can be created, deployed and managed quickly and cost effectively.

4) Unpredictable demand peaks are getting bigger and more frequent - Finally, networks need to handle massive and unpredictable peaks in demand, requiring automation and self-aware network infrastructure. This includes the ability to handle one-off traffic peaks caused by scheduled online gaming tournaments or software patches that are deployed to millions of users simultaneously. To meet these demands, your bandwidth provisioning across the network needs to be automated from end-to-end – something that is difficult or impossible to achieve with legacy network technologies.

Modernising your environment can also help you deliver far more bandwidth at the network edge – right where you need it to support consumer apps such as gaming, audio and video streaming, IoT, and – in the near future – 5G applications as well.

You need a partner with a consultative approach and the right expertise to navigate this complex journey. This is where Ciena Services comes into play. We know the network like nobody else. Our team brings the most experienced technical personnel, best practices, and processes—along with most effective tools for handling network complexities—and works side-by-side with you every step of the way.

If you would like any more information on Ciena’s network modernisation approach please visit //www.ciena.com/legacy-networks/.