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Bandwidth or Capacity? The Passive Infrastructure Challenge

Infrastructure
Posted by James Donovan on 10 May 2017 Connect with James on LinkedIn Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Despite our insatiable appetite for increased bandwidth, whether over a wired or wireless network, demand is only fed at the right price. However, let’s be clear it is not a choice of price alone, but a decision on what bandwidth or capacity one gets for the price or the ‘cost per bit’ or ‘cost per byte’ of the solution.

Remember what information technology was like 20 to 30 years ago? A cross-country telephone conversation would often start with “please hurry, I’m calling long distance”. Documents were read over the phone when content was urgent. A “fast” PC connection was one where the ASCII text would display faster than you could read it. Electronic typewriters with memory were hot items!

Things have changed drastically!

Yet through the changes one thing has become apparent; optimizing the cost per bit has been a factor in technology adoption whether you have been aware of it or not.

In my opinion, decisions made on passive infrastructure solutions should be no different. The impact that a passive infrastructure solution has on facilitating a better cost per bit is a simple yet effective measure of the solution’s value.

In both wired and wireless voice and data networks, disrupting technologies are having a big effect on the cost structure of transporting a bit over any distance. Three basic technologies – microelectronics, storage, and photonics – are disrupting the communications market place.

Richer applications need increased bandwidth and improved network infrastructure. These technology changes along with the proliferation of IP networked devices are driving the march to next generation networks. The industry is embracing limitless bandwidth based on the lowest operational cost of transporting a bit a kilometer. I believe only the ‘infrastructurally enabled’ will survive.

Is Your Network Infrastructurally Enabled?

Now there’s a question – “Is your network infrastructurally enabled?”

Network owners need to put in the most coverage, capacity and bandwidth they can justify, knowing it will quickly be consumed. Our imagination of how it will be consumed is only limited by our wallet. The statement of “I want it” is always balanced by “can I afford it?” Then, once the degree of need overcomes the price/affordability hurdle, the purchase can be made.

Network designers are seeking to rid network architectures of costly and increasingly unnecessary hierarchies, while optimizing their networks to eliminate delay or latency. Like the virtually free transistors on a microprocessor, latency-free networks and virtually free bits will spur the development of new applications. When transport costs are no longer a barrier to market adoption, the demand for these applications mushroom – resulting in a second order impact of increased capacity demand.

What has this to do with network’s passive infrastructures?

Well, it is clear that increased bandwidth is emerging in the wide area and access networks, both fixed line and mobile, and at a low cost per bit. The hardware at home, at work and on the go will continue to increase its capability with a reduced cost per bit, and the electronics that link this hardware to the network are increasing in performance with a reduced cost per bit. So surely the trend for passive infrastructures is no different. The right choice of infrastructure should take into account it’s ability to optimize the cost per bit of the network.

The term ‘passive Infrastructure’ denotes the widest possible coverage of transmission media used in networks today – copper (twisted pair and coax), fiber optic, RF wireless and microwave. As the name suggests, the focus is on the parts of the network often hidden in the wall, underground or above the streets, rather than the ‘active’ components of a network that often get most attention. Passive Infrastructure Training is designed to give students a firm grounding in the connectivity used to and from active devices on a network.

Are You Prepared to be Infrastructurally Enabled?

Access a complete range of passive infrastructure training. The eBook from the CommScope Infrastructure Academy explores why passive infrastructure is important, what training is available for network professionals, and how easy it is to access it online.

Get your copy of CommScope’s eBook here to better understand the passive infrastructure that underpins your network.