A new network infrastructure provider had to launch a 12,000km super fiber backbone in the shortest turnaround time — through digital innovation.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 necessitating a massive increase in mobile data and internet usage in India’s 1.4 populace, one “carrier-neutral” network infrastructure provider there introduced the SmartNet Network: 12,000km of fiber across five major cities.

This massive backbone has allowed Lightstorm Telecom Ventures (Lightstorm) to promise 100% uptime, while its “spine-leaf” and “point-to-point linear long-haul architecture” were two enablers of very low latencies.

According to the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, said Rajiv Nayyar: “As a new operator setting up a network from scratch, our priority was to go live in the shortest turnaround time, do it right the first time and differentiate ourselves by boasting network resiliency and the lowest latency connectivity.”

How it all came to be

At the planning stage, Lightstorm’s technical and operations teams drafted out Methods of Procedures (MOPs) for every project activity together with contingency plans for mitigating deployment challenges. Furthermore, multiple iterations of lab simulations and trials were done with its appointed technology vendor’s teams to re-align deployment strategy with network readiness on ground. 

The execution stage was complicated by the dynamics of the country’s ever-changing pandemic management mandates and guidelines. However, the firm’s innovated with various solutions such as remote testing and continuous integration into Network Management System and Operation Support Systems, supplemented by automation tools to audit the network.

Consistent monitoring of the health of the network during build-out was facilitated with low level network scan tools that helped teams to align network KPIs such as latency, optical thresholds, debug indicators against planned values.

Said Nayyar: ““Despite the pandemic, Ciena helped us set up a reliable and scalable backbone in a short span of time. We can now boast a scalable, flexible and extensible optical network with the ability to handle multiple concurrent faults, and guarantee service in a cost-effective way (while) keeping SmartNet up and running 24×7, meeting service level agreements and delivering on end-to-end customer experiences.”

As a value-add, Lightstorm’s teams also required Ciena to build a tool to measure their services’ real time latency. This led to the vendor’s experts to build a custom latency calculation tool that is now used as a key KPI for Lightstorm’s end customers.