Predictive analytics, proactive 360-degree network metrics and other advances can keep network providers’ bottom lines healthy amid tough competition.

In today’s constantly changing, on-demand world, it is essential that networks are able to scale for massive capacity growth. There is also the need to be more agile and programmable than ever before—to dynamically respond to and handle changing operating conditions and unpredictable traffic requirements.

In the Asia Pacific region that is leading 5G adoption globally, network scalability is a challenge as optical networks have historically been closed systems built to operate in a static mode of operation. That means, changes in connectivity patterns and new capacity requests typically translate into new hardware, along with lengthy, manual wavelength planning and deployment cycles.

This is where advancements in software applications and open optical systems now make it possible to leverage analytics to change the game when it comes to simplifying next-generation photonic network operations.

Similar to how updating your mobile phone with the latest software can boost user experience, the abovementioned advancements combine the power of real-time analytics with increased automation to drive actionable insights for network providers: think faster service turn-up, troubleshooting, and dynamic network adaptability to changing operating conditions such as fiber cuts or nodal outages.

Maximizing uptime with analytics

Network providers find it difficult to prevent outages when they traditionally only have limited real-time visibility into the performance of their optical network. This makes it near-impossible to detect silent failures or ‘hot spots’ that contributing the most noise to the system.

More often than not, a troublesome network path would appear to be in perfect working order until traffic is switched onto this path when it is most needed. By the time the network provider receives an error notification, their customers are already facing service interruptions.

To prevent this from happening, it is critical that network providers have the ability to monitor the health of optical restoration paths, detect imminent failures, and proactively fix problems. With visibility into the network, as well as real-time metrics to identify trends and patterns, network providers can then ensure that the best course of action is taken.

For example, in the event of a natural disaster, such insights can help to minimize the impact of network outages caused by fiber cuts—by allowing the light signals that carry data to automatically change their path and dynamically adapt.

Maintaining the bottom line

While end users want more from their network providers, they are not necessarily always willing to pay more. As bandwidth demand skyrocket in the sudden rushed-digitalization, networking revenue is being eroded as quickly, because you can earn only so much more for the fixed number of bits being transported incrementally, given that consumers expect unlimited data plans.

This is a growing concern for service operators as their bottom line will be affected without a doubt. Is it even still possible for operators to yield better margins in the long-term?

Facing these challenging market dynamics, network providers need to look into different ways to maximize their returns on investment and improve leverage of their fiber assets, while simultaneously improving system performance, network efficiency, and service availability.  

This can be achieved if network providers significantly enhance day-to-day operations by gaining a deep understanding of what is happening in their network through real-time performance metrics. If they have an easy-to-read snapshot of every active channel’s performance, network providers can use customer-defined service policies that suggest the ideal capacity, hardware configuration, and spectral placement for any channel, across any network path, to lower operational expenses and effectively lower the cost.

Furthermore, network providers will be able to mine and temporarily borrow available system margin—which is a changing or dynamic variable over the life of the network—to gain optimal capacity on demand; improve reach for a specific channel; or increase service availability.

All these actionable insights can help to ensure that the network runs more efficiently by maximizing value assets across the entire network photonic lifecycle.

By leveraging advancements in software applications to solve optical networking challenges, network providers can ensure that they are making the right investments to future-proof their networks and remain competitive, while also maximizing profits and satisfying the connectivity demands.