With so much hype around the acceleration of 5G networks and billions of dollars being invested by mobile operators to deliver faster, richer, and more valuable services and experiences to enterprises and consumers alike, the role fiber optics will ultimately still play may be rather less understood. That’s according to David Walsh, a leading technologist from Bronxville, New York, as he provides a closer look at the synergy set to take place between 5G and fiber in the New Year.
“With wireless and mobile traffic predicted to account for more than 63 percent of total IP traffic by 2021, access to the unprecedented speeds of 5G networks will drive more innovation and value creation than we’ve seen in decades,” suggests Walsh, who’s based in Bronxville, New York. Yet without lit fiber, these unprecedented download speeds, he says, combined with reduced latencies, will place huge demands on wired infrastructure.
“When fiber optic cables began displacing copper starting around the turn of this century, the entire real-time communications industry gravitated toward this technology,” reveals Walsh. This technology, he explains, sent data packets up to 40 miles without losing signal strength. “Today’s data fiber optics, however,” adds the expert, “continually transfer over 15 terabits per second.”
According to David Walsh, this is light-years ahead of what 5G is capable of doing wirelessly. “The fact is, the quality and resiliency of wireless networks will continue to depend on fiber networks,” he explains.
What’s game-changing about 5G, Walsh believes, and driving the need for fiber optics, is the sheer volume of endpoints predicted. “With connected cars, homes, cities, factories, farms, and more, the new expectation for 5G latency is less than five milliseconds,” suggests the leading Bronxville-based technologist.
Ultra-low latency will, he says, absolutely require the speed of fiber optics. “Simple but powerful use cases, like the ability to download a two-hour-long movie in two seconds, will once again change nearly every supply chain and every digital supply chain,” Walsh points out, “and it’s important to keep in mind that the backbone of a 5G network can only be supported with fiber.”
“As such, I predict,” he goes on, “that in 2020, we’ll see increasing demand for smarter form factors for fiber optic cables which will be smaller, easier to install, and easier to maintain.”
David Walsh also predicts that in 2020, creative new business models based on consortium approaches and collaborative investments toward shared digital infrastructure will gather pace. “This decade’s exponentially more powerful connectivity fabric will not be nearly as overbuilt as the original fiber networks from 20 years ago,” he says.
“Instead, we’re going to build much smarter this time,” adds Walsh, wrapping up, “and the value we create will support a flourishing digital economy home to sustainable businesses and the associated social benefits for many years to come.”