From Cable Station to Data Center

A New Approach to Connectivity

By Derek Cassidy
November 24, 2020

The Network Operator

Over the last couple of months the telecommunications industry has lead a charge and has won the fight in keeping the world connected. I know this is their purpose however the communications networks never expected a situation where an immediate change in working practice exploded onto the world stage caused by the Covid pandemic. This dynamic change in the way people communicated and the pressures caused by the evacuation of the office, created huge problems for the economy.  The many industries, which relied on their army of employees who were office based, had in a short space of time instructed then to migrate to the many home offices. These home offices were instantly set up in kitchens, spare bedrooms, attics and sheds. This new way of working and keeping the economy alive put the telecom network infrastructure under enormous strain.

The capability to keep the currant network operational and also increasing the external connectivity to the many different types of industries had to become the normal operational model, practically overnight. This was no ordinary task and many telecom operators and virtual telecom operators had to increase their working bandwidth across the carrier networks. However it was the carrier telecom networks that suffered the most. Before the pandemic took hold the carrier networks, those that had physical infrastructure in the ground, had to keep the bandwidth that was being used across their network operational yet they had to meet the increased bandwidth requirements. This new increase in bandwidth use was directly related to the increased requirement of the masses of office based staff now working from their own home based offices or home office.

A lot of the network carriers had operated their own webfarm type data Centre’s within their own telecom switches or hub sites. These webfarms were predominately ISP (internet service provider) Core networks that connected their customers and other carriers with the ISP providers. These ISP core networks would carry network connections to the big internet providers but also to the sites that maintained the many thousand corporate and company websites and cloud servers etc.   The big problem here was that the corporate websites and cloud servers already had connections to the main production sites and office and corporate headquarters that had now been vacated but still needed to be fully operational on a telecommunications point of view. The migration of the millions of office based staff to the home office opened up a new connectivity headache. The many broadband connections used in these new home offices were originally rolled out and used for domestic use. They did have peak times of use but these were usually when the corporate internet and broadband connections were not fully operational and these were usually in evenings when most employees were at home. Most carrier networks had built their webfarm type ISP core networks based on this model as it was a model that had worked and proven reliable over the last fifteen years or so.

Another advantage of the carrier webfarm was the ability to use cashed memory in localized servers that were located in the carrier webfarm. This enabled the process that brought the internet closer to the network edge. This is where the big ISP companies would allow for their network to extend as far as the carrier webfarm and decrease the time to steam video and download content. Latency or the time it takes for information to transverse the network was reduced and allowed more access and increased connectivity. Many customers were now not logging onto the big hyperscale internet providers directly but onto the cashed memory provided by the carrier ISP Core. This also assisted the down load speeds and reduced the old issue of buffering and buffeting the data.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 115 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 33 or on our archive site here.