Remember when the “Information Superhighway” promised instantaneous data delivery to the doorstep? It was touted as the Autobahn of information.Of course, in those days, connectivity was wired and social media meant classified ads in the newspaper. As much as times have changed, the superhighwaymetaphor for data transmission remains apt – and maybe even more so given today’s Smart Highways.
It’s easy to imagine packets of data as vehicles, and our networks as the roads they travel.And in this era of increased network complexity – with satellite, wireless and wired connections all converging to serve swiftly expanding needs – the concept of a data superhighway fits, right down to “traffic control” measures like toll roads and HOV lanes. Merely upgrading the system is not enough to accommodate the increasing volume of data traversing our networks;communications networks also need intelligent traffic control, a common feature of SD-WAN (software defined wide area networking),to route data efficiently and keep high-volume traffic flowing.
The Traffic Report
A growing population of Internet users, exploding number of devices and connections,and increasing consumption of multimedia and videoare all contributing to exponential growth in global IP traffic. The COVID-19 pandemic gives us a preview ofhow existing global broadband networksfare under changing traffic patterns.
With millions of people working from home, accessing online educational resources and streaming entertainment, ISPs reported all-time highs in traffic. For instance, in a week-over-week comparison early in the pandemic (March 12 and March 19), Verizon saw total web traffic increase 22 percent, driven by demand for bandwidth-intensive streaming video services (which grew 12 percent), VPN use (up 30 percent) and online gaming (up 75 percent). In just a few months, “peak” has become “regular” with traffic levels now consistently 25-30 percent higher than pre-pandemic – a rapid acceleration of the already anticipated massive growth in traffic over the next several years. As on a literal highway, when the volume of traffic surges, congestion follows, regardless of the type of network technology.
Efforts to improvethe infrastructure are well underway already. Examples include the rollout of 5G, the extension and improvement of cable, LTE and fiber networks, the launch of new High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) and the advent of NGSO (non-geostationaryorbit, like low and mid-earth orbit) satellite constellations.
But to optimize the growing highway system across all transport types, advanced traffic control is imperative because capacity alone is not enough. Due to the pandemic and the rapid shift to work-from-home for so many businesses, the need for traffic control has also expanded beyond just the traditional corporate environments to distributed enterprises and homes. Users, like home Internet subscribers, maybe unfamiliar with the term SD-WAN, but even they soon will see the benefits of “intelligent multi-path connectivity.” An example are the timed tests now being conducted for high school and college students where the network has to be up and reliable.
The Advantages of Multi-transportData Transmission
Multi-transport data transmission leverages all available connections for the transmission of data – including fiber, cable, LTEand satellite. Intelligent technologies classify the type of traffic and automatically route the data via the “best” available pathway based on transport characteristics, such as speed and latency, and can also take cost variances into consideration to optimize budgets and business needs.