Fiber industry collaboration, investment, and new technology in preparation for edge computing, 5G deployment and fiber densification.
The VETRO FiberMap team headed to Miami for the MetroConnect USA 2019 conference from January 29th-31st. Metro Connect, hosted by Capacity Media, gathers over 600 senior-level industry thought leaders and over 200 telecommunication firms together in one space to network, partner, and forecast where fiber and connectivity are headed.
The conference was largely based around a few key topics that framed how network industry providers should adapt their current processes, and invest in new technology to prepare for edge computing, 5G, and fiber densification. These discussions will guide the level of growth and investment in the networking industry over the next few years.
The “Edge” for Infrastructure and Devices: Many of the panelists discussed the need for edge computing to support 5G networks, data growth, and the importance of latency as well as distributed networks. Device and network infrastructure innovation is accelerating due to artificial intelligence and scalability–the value of edge computing will be to grow capacity and simplify infrastructure requirements.
Industry Consolidation: Demand for fiber networks, as well as recent mergers and acquisitions, have increased market valuations significantly over the past year. Additionally, innovative network architectures and software applications are expected to increase U.S. data traffic by 65 percent over the next three years. Larger operators enjoy significant pricing power, in addition to the operational cost savings from deep fiber, which makes fiber networks an attractive investment. However, with increased valuations comes increased risk, and some worry that they may overpay for fiber assets, causing them to considering building instead of buying outright.
Fiber Densification: Successful 5G deployment is going to require a new level of network densification. Wireless networks depend on fiber, and data predictions indicate that one square mile could require up to 60 small cells. Smart city applications increase as more fiber is deployed, and already an estimated 1.4M miles of fiber cable are necessary to serve the top 25 metros in the U.S. alone.
Every conversation at Metro Connect indicated how quickly the network deployment landscape is shifting, and how crucial it is for the industry to adapt to meet ever-growing data needs. One of the larger challenges–and opportunities–we face as an industry is the need to collaborate with other vendors and technologies to reduce the high cost of adapting as the cloud expands and evolves. The recurring message at Metro Connect was to balance long term reward with immediate investment, and not become devalued by allowing the edge or technology pass by.
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