In the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications, the complexity of modern metro networks has grown significantly. This is a natural outcome of the expansion of 4G, the rollout of 5G, and the continuous growth in broadband networks, along with the integration of Software Defined Network (SDN) services. Today’s metro networks have become a mesh of intertwined capacities and services that are difficult to maintain and require high Operational Expenses (OpEx) to keep running. Further, the high energy costs incurred by existing metro networks make scaling up a difficult proposition – especially for organizations that want to meet their sustainability goals. 

 As a result, telcos are looking for ways to bring simplicity and coherence to these essential infrastructures. 

Network simplification is not a buzzword; think of it as a trend or a necessary step towards more efficient, cost-effective operations. This is about refining the network to ensure that it can manage the current load and scale to meet future needs without unnecessary complexity.  

One of our customers, a leading telco serving nearly half the individuals in a nation whose population exceeds 100 million, is racing past competitors by pursuing metro network simplification. Let’s learn what they’re doing differently. 

Convergence: The Key to Metro Network Simplification 

Telcos know that metro network simplification, especially for those with a multitude of technologies in place, comes from convergence. 

But what is convergence? It is the unification of separate network layers and services into a single, more efficient infrastructure. Horizontal convergence refers to the integration of various service types—like voice, video, and data—across a common network path, eliminating the need for parallel infrastructures. Vertical convergence, on the other hand, is the consolidation of network functions and equipment, such as routing and switching, that usually run on specialized hardware designed to perform specialized functions.  

By streamlining multiple operations and services onto shared platforms and resources that’s software defined and programmable, telcos can significantly reduce the complexity of their networks and deliver significant energy savings and operational efficiencies. All of this also leads to significant OpEx savings. 

How We Achieve Horizontal and Vertical Convergence 

Convergence – both horizontal and vertical – can be achieved in a number of ways. Our client assessed each one of them with the help of technicians & experts and found that adopting Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6) for horizontal convergence, and Routed Optical Networking (RON) model for vertical convergence, will help them in the long-term. 

SRv6 adopts a forward-looking approach that allows for more intelligent traffic routing. By simplifying the control plane and leveraging the vast address space of IPv6, SRv6 enables networks to be more agile and responsive to the dynamic demands of modern metro services.  

The Routed Optical Networking (RON) model, on the other hand, takes a vertical slice through the layers of network functionality, promoting a more streamlined operational model. This means that instead of managing multiple layers separately, the network can be managed more holistically, which translates to increased efficiency and a reduction in complexity. 

Together, they help simplify the metro network, which results in many benefits. 

A simpler network architecture inherently streamlines management tasks. When network paths are reduced and operations are consolidated, it creates a more intuitive system that network administrators can oversee with greater ease. This simplicity also translates to more straightforward troubleshooting. With fewer variables and complexities involved, identifying and resolving issues becomes a more efficient process, minimizing downtime and improving service quality.  

Moreover, a network with fewer components and interactions is inherently more robust. Each additional layer or point of interaction in a complex network introduces potential failure points. By simplifying the network, these points of vulnerability are reduced, which enhances the network’s overall resilience.  

In the event of a component failure or service interruption, a simpler network can more readily reroute traffic or deploy redundant systems to maintain service continuity. This resilience is crucial for telcos, especially considering the critical nature of network services in both commercial and personal communications.  

In the context of operational expenses, a simpler, more resilient network directly contributes to cost savings. Fewer failures mean fewer emergency interventions, less overtime for crisis management, and lower risk of revenue loss due to service outages. Over time, the investment in simplifying the network infrastructure pays off not only in reduced operational costs but also in improved customer satisfaction due to the network’s reliability and consistent performance. 

Convergence’s Green Promise 

The ever-increasing demand for connectivity, driven by 5G, cloud services, and the Internet of Things (IoT), has put tremendous pressure on telcos to expand their networks exponentially. However, this growth comes at a cost—energy consumption.  

Traditional network infrastructures, with their complex web of hardware and redundant components, are notorious energy hogs. Convergence solves this problem. 

Horizontal and vertical convergence, thanks to by technologies like SRv6 and RON, allows telcos to simplify and optimize their network architectures. By consolidating functions, reducing redundancy, and eliminating unnecessary complexity, networks become more energy-efficient. This means fewer devices consuming power, less cooling required for data centers, and ultimately, a smaller carbon footprint. 

Our telco customer was facing pressure from customers and regulators to become sustainable. To them, environmental responsibility is paramount, and they’re not just adapting, they’re leading the way towards a more sustainable future. For them, their journey to convergence has already delivered about 60% savings in energy use/costs – and there’s scope for more as they continue to optimize. 

Network convergence, coupled with innovative technologies like SRv6 and RON, is the key that unlocks network expansion that is not only economically viable but also environmentally responsible. It’s a path to a greener, more efficient tomorrow, where a digital-first world and sustainability go hand in hand. 

Telcos that want to lead in the future need to think about adopting technologies that help re-architect their infrastructure in favor of convergence – whether they’re motivated by growth or driven by their sustainability agenda.