Bringing the digital lifestyle home

Nov 7, 2013

When Telenet announced they were using our 7950 XRS Core Router to support their video and data it struck me that the digital lifestyle had well and truly arrived. As Belgium’s largest cable TV operator, they have a lot of experience in delivering a lifestyle experience. Now they can make that fully digital — one where information is instantaneously shared and conveniently accessed anytime, anywhere and on any device.

For Telenet’s end users there will be many benefits. Instead of having different wall sockets for phones, computers and TVs, a digital home will be able to use any service on any device. For instance, with Telenet Rex & Rio the kids can watch Nickelodeon on a tablet while Dad watches a soccer game in the living room. Mom can catch up with a missed Game of Thrones episode, stream YouTube or Netflix on the TV, and surf the web and check emails on a smart phone using a wireless Internet connection.

Believe it or not, core routers are a critical technology behind this new way of life.

Why does the Core Router Matter?

When Al Gore “invented” the information super highway, he was talking about the Internet. Core routers make up the asphalt of this super highway. For most people the Internet is just a plug in the wall with a modem attached to it. No need to understand how your browser translates a web address into an Internet Protocol (IP) address on the Internet, or how the network breaks your request down in data packets, or how these packets travel over fiber optic cables and ultimately reach the web server with the information you need.

But the Internet is busy web of components that fulfill a variety of jobs. There are, for instance:In your neighborhood: network access and traffic aggregation systems that form the on-ramps of the Internet in your neighborhoodOutside your home country: When you want to interact with servers located outside your city or country, like, your request is routed over inter-regional and internal backbone networks to get thereAll over the world: Routing is the network function in charge of learning the Internet addresses of all servers connected to the Internet, and to route and forward traffic between them. Routers are the physical network components that collectively perform Internet routing functionsAt the Core of it all: Core routers make up the heart of that network, and have enough capacity to switch multiple Terabits per second of data. They are typically located in every major city to connect it into the global Internet.

Service Convergence: What it means

Besides the Web, virtually all residential, business and mobile services are now making use of IP. This doesn’t mean that all these services are running over the Internet, but they make use of the same data technologies and types of equipment the Internet is using. In the recent past each service type (phone, internet and TV) used a specialized network with different technologies. By standardizing all services on a common set of protocols and technologies, service providers like Telenet are now able to deploy a common IP-based network to deliver all their services.

This is known as service convergence, and it’s profoundly changing the digital landscape.

You may ask: what does service convergence have to do with core routers? Well, if all services use the same Internet technology, and run on a common IP routing network, you will see a lot of data traffic. This traffic grows even faster than Internet traffic; easily doubling each year. This requires lots of network capacity and that is where large scale core routers such as the Alcatel-Lucent 7950 XRS come in. And that’s exactly why Telenet is already moving this way, using our core router.

More people watch videos with increasing resolution, email attachments keep getting bigger, and lots of new network traffic that previously stayed inside your computer is generated for Cloud services. Watch for my next blog where I’ll explain the role Core Routers play in enabling those Cloud services, and continuing to evolve the digital lifestyle.

Arnold Jansen holds a senior marketing management role in Alcatel-Lucent and is responsible for promoting products and solutions for the IP/MPLS core. Arnold has held a number of roles in research and innovation, sales, product management and marketing during his 24 years in the telecommunications industry. He holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

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