An optical solution

The Covid-19 crisis has tested every industry’s strengths and weaknesses, and then put them under a microscope and displayed them for everyone to see. This has been especially true for the communication network industry. Some regions have fared better than others; the US has not been a shining example in broadband as Zoom meetings, TV streaming and at-home gaming services have all been competing for precious bandwidth.

This drain on bandwidth has led to a clamor of interest in 5G technology. Even before Covid, 5G was a hot topic, with investors seeking valuable insight into the asset class. 5G is still in its infancy and will take several different forms dependent upon the different spectrums that wireless service providers have access to. More importantly, without virtually every cell site and tower having a fiber optic connection on a highly resilient network, 5G will remain somewhat limited, especially for those not living in major metro areas.

While the fiber optic network continues to be critical to meeting bandwidth demands, the impact of the pandemic has drastically changed the pattern of data traffic flow that runs through this vastly complex telecommunications infrastructure. A significant amount of data traffic used to originate from offices full of workers that had high-bandwidth connections set up to handle that flow, but now there is increased traffic coming from residential areas as people continue working and shopping from home and kids learn remotely.

As this traffic continues to move to the edge and access connection points of service provider networks, we need to find new and innovative ways to keep up with bandwidth demands while still maintaining the efficient cost structures that are so important in these markets. The prudent thing to do now is to move forward and work to evolve the network in a manner that can accommodate the new normal and new flow of data traffic.

As more traffic is pushed toward the edge of the network, there is increased pressure on carriers and access providers to handle the new demands. Technologies such as high-capacity coherent optical, traditionally used for long-distance transmission, are now moving into the edge of the network to give these providers a much-needed bandwidth boost in a cost-effective manner. These technologies are easy to install due to their plug-and-play nature, allowing providers to upgrade older 10G links with new 100G or higher speeds.

What is crystal clear is that fiber optic networks are the path forward to getting terabytes of data to consumers’ homes and businesses instantly. Recent studies have shown that a single strand of fiber can carry more than 44 Tbps — that’s a million times faster than the average US user’s current internet speed. Granted, the technology to support those phenomenal speeds has a long way to come before it’s considered commercially viable, but the fiber itself can comfortably manage a vast amount more capacity than we are using today.

Not only is fiber essential to keep up and help the industry advance further in the home and business sphere, but these networks can also power IOT and smart city applications over the same infrastructure. Investors have woken up to that opportunity in a big way. In a market where there is unquestionable demand for faster internet speeds at home and a lack of fiber optic networks to deliver it, matched with private capital markets, emerging industry players have a perfect environment for large-scale infrastructure investment.

Fiber represents a unique investment opportunity that requires a depth of understanding across construction, network architecture and network operations at large scale to achieve a successful and sustainable project and unlock institutional capital. The technological aspects of fiber networks are critical, and without understanding and controlling both the fiber and the electronics that power the network, you risk leaving yourself and your investor(s) exposed to greater risks of lost revenue. Fiber is also not a short-term investment, so the risks need to be considered over the long term.

Glow’s role

Glow Networks provides complete professional services for network services. Our optical networking services expertise lies in design engineering and deployment of fiber networks. For more than two decades, fiber optical networking has been part of our DNA. We offer a host of services including design, engineering, optical networks intelligence services, fiber characterization, splicing, testing, and deployment. Glow Networks pioneered the engineering and commissioning of fiber connectivity for leading network services more than a decade ago in the United States.

Glow also offers a suite of additional services and solutions ranging from DAS and small cells, to RF design and optimization, to supplemental staffing, and so much more. Our partnership has helped our customers to increase the coverage area, reach new customers and generate new service revenues.

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