The world is becoming bandwidth-hungry at an exponential pace – be it the bandwidth consumption at homes, driven by new entertainment forms, smart home configurations, COVID-19-induced home office setups or in the enterprise space, driven by the proliferation of IOT and surge of Industry 4.0. This is forcing countries across the globe to accelerate the shift towards fiber networks and 5G. Upgrading existing networks and planning the “Networks of the Future” that are flexible, scalable, reliable, and sustainable have become key priorities for telecom companies of the world.
What happens to the older equipment, once newer networks start taking over?
As networks have become more complex, planning these deployments, decommissioning, and migration processes have become the need of the hour.
Network Decommissioning is the process of shutting down and removal of old and technologically obsolete networks, including all the network equipment, cables, switches, POTS lines, etc. this is done across both wireline (telephone networks, cable television or Internet access, fiber optic communication, etc.) as well as wireless forms of networks (cell phone networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), wireless sensor networks, satellite communication networks, etc.).
Wireline networks transmit information from source to the destination via filaments.
Fiber networks are gaining popularity as mediums of transmission. The data delivery is more seamless in the case of fiber networks – both in terms of quantity and the distance of transmission, as compared to copper networks. Thus, uptake of Fiber is leading to copper-switch off and provides a significant opportunity for decommissioning. This is being adopted my Telecom operators on a global scale.
The evolution of wireless networks from 2G, 3G, 4G to 5G makes it all the more essential to replace the voice networks to keep up with the rising bandwidth demand. There are networks that have been in existence for over a decade and are now obsolete as their electronic modes fail to support the scale. Older wireless networks like 2G and 3G are now having to adopt newer nodes belonging to 3G and 4G networks to keep up with the demand for faster networks with lower latency at affordable costs.
Moreover, with sustainability dominating conversations across boardrooms, parliaments, and conferences, it becomes crucial to dismiss legacy equipment and make the switch to newer, greener technology.
The process of network decommissioning begins with an in-depth analysis of the existing network. Subsequently, a comprehensive execution plan is developed. But before performing cancellations, pre-decommissioning checks and configurations are carried out. This process includes steps such as:
Once the network has been successfully decommissioned, need to upscale the network design to enhance performance and meet infrastructure needs. This is taken care of in the next step, which is Network Migration.
Network Migration is the process of moving/transferring the data and applications from a legacy network to an upgraded network system.
Network Migration becomes imperative because:
The rate of growth of the network traffic has been ranging between 50%-150% across the globe. Thus, to support the massive current and future demand, technical upgrade of the existing networks is not only vital but has become imperative. According to Zinnov’s analysis, clients are enthusiastic and eager to complete their Decommissioning and Migration journeys and optimize their current networks.
Also, it is safe to say that the cost incurred by Decommissioning of legacy equipment is not too high when weighed against the profits that will be achieved because of the transition, making it both profitable and sustainable in the long run.
In addition, market research shows that the fiber optic networks occupy 15% of the space captured by their copper counterparts. This results in minimizing the usage of technology access equipment.
Cyient and Zinnov, together spoke to clients on Network Decommissioning, and our analysis reveals that the copper switch-off can save anywhere between 45-65% of the overall energy cost. Some added benefits would be optimal utilization of energy and space.
Telecom operators have played an indispensable role in decommissioning the older networks, both from wired and wireless perspectives, and helping build a green, sustainable, future-proof network. Global support is pouring in for this green network initiative, which ensures optimized balance of hardware, software, and reduced energy usage. The green network standards make it a mandate to reduce carbon footprints and balance the future networks on an even ratio of energy efficiency vs. energy consumption.
It is crucial that organizations constantly remain at the top of their tech game and leverage the latest changes in the industry. To achieve this in the case of Network Decommissioning, telecom operators, equipment manufacturers, and System Integrators (SI) need to collaborate and work towards building and scaling up the network of the future. And this will define the next era of growth for the Telecom industry.