Network providers are eager to push new services out to their clients, and the clients are eager to consume them. The major problem, however, is that while most access networks have been upgraded to fiber over the past two decades or so, the new surge in service-related data is likely to overwhelm legacy end points and transceivers, rendering all that fiber moot.

The last thing anyone wants at the outset of the 5G digital economy, however, is bottlenecks, which means new networking solutions need to be implemented quickly in order to accommodate the heightened data loads of the next decade.

Long time coming

The ITU has been preparing for this eventuality since at least 2014 when it began the standardization process of a next-generation version of dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) called G.metro. The idea was to create an architecture around a “black link” connection between the carrier and the client enterprise using passive WDM technology. This eliminates network transponders and allows access networks to scale easily and at lower cost than traditional WDM solutions.

It’s been a long process to ratify a standard, but finally we’re seeing the first commercial products in what is likely to be a rush to short up the fiber access network.

G.metro solves a key conundrum for network providers: the need to increase network capacity and flexibility without increasing overall footprint or power consumption. ADVA’s turnkey solution, for example, offers up to 10Gbit/s per channel on a pluggable SFP+ form factor that combines ease of operation with broad security and sustainable growth capabilities. It also offers an instant automated tuning feature that tunes the transceiver to the appropriate wavelength in seconds without any manual intervention, and it provides full backward compatibility with existing ADVA devices to make the upgrade path simpler and less costly.

These and other features are designed to enable a highly scalable environment with minimal operational complexity. If additional capacity is required, there’s no need to replace existing demarcation and aggregation hardware, while remote in-service and fiber wavelength monitoring tools provide full network visibility down to the health and status of individual plugs. As well, the platform natively transports Ethernet CPRI or eCPRI services over single- and dual-fiber DWDM for point-to-point, linear add/drop and star topologies, and it has been purpose-built with an upgrade path to 25Gbit/s operation and beyond.

Deploy and manage with ease

In this way, ADVA’s G.metro aims to not merely add capacity to access networks, but to make them more flexible, easier to deploy and manage, and consume fewer resources as well. With zero-touch provisioning, set up is faster, easier and less prone to error. This same zero-touch capability is also available on the optical layer, providing a continuously optimized network environment for what is sure to be a highly diverse set of applications in the 5G era.

It’s been evident for some time now that networking will be the key differentiator in the emerging digital economy, and wide-area networking will provide the key link between the enterprise, the cloud, the IoT and legions of revenue-generated connective devices. The access network will have to become more expansive, reliable and flexible as these trends unfold, and it will have to be done quickly and at low cost.

With G.metro, network providers can deliver all this and more to their enterprise customers, putting them ahead of the curve when providing next-generation services.