The Smart City Paradox

We have all quickly become accustomed to enjoying and relying on the conveniences of  technology.  My smart phone tells me the weather and the news, keeps me current on email, connected with my friends on social media, and can summon an Uber ride at the click of a button.  How did we ever live without being connected 24/7?  I was at a dinner over the weekend and a debate ensued over the name of the plant in the table arrangement.  My wife whipped out her smartphone, clicked open an App called “Leafsnap” and instantly settled the debate.

While it’s handy to be able to lock my home remotely and view my property remotely from a webcam, broadband connectivity also promises to solve some serious macro issues such as the environmental challenges of urbanization.  “Smart Cities” are at the forefront of this evolution.  By leveraging emerging information and communications technology (ICT), these cities are seeing population growth attributed to the resulting increase in economic activity, improved transportation efficiency and an overall enhanced quality of life for its citizens.  That is, the efficiency gains enable the creation of environmentally friendly mega cities that are capable of safely increasing population density in a sustainable manner.  In short, people will flock to these large Smart Cities for high quality jobs, innovation and economic prosperity.  …Or will they?  While the concept of Smart Cities is highly reliant on greater broadband connectivity, my observation is that as connectivity becomes more pervasive, the less people are drawn to big cities.  Hence the Smart City paradox.

What is a Smart City?  smart city wien  kopfzeile 300x89 The Smart City Paradox

There are a number of definitions of a Smart City but they typically involve 6 main components:

  1. Economic Development
  2. Mobility
  3. A Sustainable Improved Environment
  4. Education Infrastructure Modernization
  5. Quality of Life (creative culture, safety, security, efficiency)
  6. E-Government

A combination of factors led to the concept of Smart Cities which foresees the implementation of Gigabit broadband connectivity as a solution to many of the current urban problems. This would be achieved by increasing economic activity – thereby reducing  intercity poverty – a reduction in crime via improved surveillance and faster police response, less traffic as a result of telecommuting and online schooling, and increased reliance on public transportation, which also alleviates concerns over rising  levels of greenhouse gases.  These mega-cities see the opportunity to leverage emerging information and communications technology (ICT) to address further urbanization growth.  All of the productivity gains enable the creation of an environmentally friendly city that is capable of safely increasing its population density in a sustainable manner.

Gigabit Communities

In 2011, Google launched Google Fiber which proved to be a highly successful disruptive event that has spurred the Gigabit broadband race across America.  Just like we witness with a CVS going across the street from every Walgreens, the “NFL cities” have been blanketed with Gigabit service announcements and deployments from the Tier 1 Telcos and Multiple Systems Operators (MSOs).  Rural Co-ops have been leveraging Federal funds to deploy Fiber-To-The-Premise (FTTP) for years. This leaves the bulk of America at risk of being left behind. These are communities too small for Google Fiber consideration (and the matching Gigabit broadband deployments by the Tier 1s) and too big to be eligible for Federal broadband subsidies. As a result, these communities have been taking matters into their own hands to work with local and regional operators to transform their towns into Gigabit Communities.

These Gigabit Communities range from former textile towns such as Rock Hill, SC to a former cotton community such as Jackson, TN to dairy farms in Northwest Indiana to rural Mississippi.  By the end of 2015, over 200 communities across the country will become “Gigabit Communities.”   Without  Gigabit broadband initiatives, these towns were at risk of losing the next generation to bigger cities. However the launch of Gigabit services in their communities has been the key catalyst for economic growth and development. A FTTH Council study of 14 communities with Gigabit deployed found a direct positive impact of 1.1 points on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth over similar communities. For those non-economists, GDP growth rate of around 2% is considered flat (like treading water).  Communities with a 2-4% GDP growth rate are healthy and robust, so imagine what a 1.1% increase in GDP can mean for a community’s overall economic picture.

While communities enjoy the boost in their local economy, their citizens also see an immediate benefit in their home values.  The FTTH Council commissioned a recent study with the University of Colorado at Boulder which found that Gigabit services increases home values by 3.1%.  On a $175,000 home, this Gigabit effect increases the homeowner’s equity by nearly $5,500 or about the same as adding a fireplace or half the value of adding a bathroom.

The Smart City Paradox

While a Gigabit services infrastructure is paramount for Smart Cities to gain the necessary efficiencies to increase their population densities for urbanization while reducing environmental impact, Gigabit Communities have become a magnet for high tech workers, their employers and entrepreneurs. It turns out there no longer needs to be a tradeoff between quality of life and proximity to high paying jobs. Gigabit broadband puts it all within reach.  As the innovative jet set move to these smaller towns, their suppliers follow along with hotels, restaurants, retail and other industries that seek growth opportunities.

As a result, the more Gigabit infrastructure that is deployed across the country, the more urban dwellers will realize the work/life benefits of living in the “smart” communities outside of the big cities.

garybolton 150x150 The Smart City Paradox

Author Gary Bolton is Vice President, Global Marketing at ADTRAN




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Three Solutions Service Providers are Using in Next-Gen Networks

The demand for faster Internet connectivity is expanding at a staggering rate. Many industry analysts predict that Internet traffic will increase between 20 and 30 percent each year, and Cisco Visual Networking Index predicts that video traffic will increate to 80% of all IP traffic. Trends contributing to increased bandwidth demand include an increase in the number of connected devices per person and record growth in subscriptions to over-the-top video services, such as Netflix. In addition, the NCTA reports that the cable industry now has more broadband subscribers than video subscribers. With an ever-increasing bandwidth demand, 50 gigabit cities in the US and counting, and tremendous growth in the consumption of over the top video, many operators are looking for ways to reduce OpEx and build an all-fiber, flexible network that will satisfy the growing demand for many years to come.

Automate Service Delivery through APIs

Application Program Interfaces (APIs) provide an interface that can be used by a service provider’s back office systems to control network elements such as CMTSs, DSLAMs, and FTTH aggregation platforms. By selecting aggregation equipment that offers APIs such as REST, Netconf, and YANG, Cable MSOs, telcos, and other operators are able to automate provisioning processes, which reduces the headcount and time required to provision a new subscriber and eliminates problems with service delivery. Most importantly, automation in service delivery moves operators closer to software-defined networking (SDN) where end-users can choose from additional service offerings through an operator-provided portal without the need for a truck roll.

DWDM and NG-PON2 for Scalable Access and Transport Networks

Fiber optic cable has been a part of the service delivery network for decades. However, installing new fiber can be costly, especially in densely-populated areas where it is needed most. Technologies such as Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) allow operators to layer multiple services on top of each other on the same fiber, which increases the capacity of the transport network. In addition, new fiber to the home (FTTH) technologies such as Next Generation Passive Optical Network Stage 2 (NG-PON2) provide scalability in the fiber access network by using Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexing (TWDM), allowing service providers to deploy a single 10-gigabit access network and add additional networks on other wavelengths as demand increases or to service businesses who desire point-to-point connectivity. By incorporating both DWDM and NG-PON2, operators can consolidate residential and business service delivery networks onto the same fiber without fear of degrading service level agreement (SLA) performance and reduce construction costs. The result is an agile, high-capacity, all-Ethernet service delivery network that will serve operators well for decades to come.

Modular, Upgradeable Access Platforms Eliminate Forklift Upgrades

At a time when capacity requirements on the access and transport networks are increasing faster than upgrades can be performed, many operators want to choose service delivery platforms that can be upgraded without a forklift upgrade as their network evolves. Platforms that are wholly based on a standard Ethernet switch fabric instead of proprietary protocols are aligned better with the technologies used in the rest of the network and are easier to upgrade going forward. Modular access platforms that implement technologies such as NG-PON2, GPON, xDSL, and packet optical transport on a card allow operators to upgrade their networks by purchasing a new card as opposed to a new chassis.

In summary, MSOs, telcos, and other service providers are faced with the challenge of upgrading their networks to satisfy a growing bandwidth demand with an increasing amount of video traffic. For operators to satisfy the capacity requirements of the future, they will need to automate their service delivery processes, leverage their investment in their physical fiber plant with increased capacity, and invest in a service delivery platform that’s based on modular, Ethernet technology that offers the possibility of upgrading to newer access and transport standards without a forklift upgrade. With APIs to automate service delivery, DWDM in the transport network, and NG-PON2 in the access network, service provider networks will be more than capable of providing an excellent experience and additional video content to subscribers for years to come.

Chris Tucker brings over 15 years of telecommunications experience to ADTRAN and currently supports several cable MSO and CLEC customers with ADTRAN’s leading business services products. Prior to joining ADTRAN, Chris served as a solutions engineer for a major DOCSIS cable modem manufacturer where he supported product qualification efforts at many of the top ten US cable MSOs. Chris has also served in several sales engineering and technical business development assignments supporting the introduction of cutting-edge service delivery solutions into the cable, telco, and satellite service provider verticals. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology from Purdue University. 

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Enabling Communities to Form Lasting Connections

For many, the need to connect is becoming as vital as food and water. Over three billion people and counting are connecting to family, friends and colleagues via voice, video, text, email and social media. In order to keep these communications channels robust, service providers are upgrading or laying down a superhighway of networks that can facilitate Gigabit speeds.

Over the past year, ADTRAN has seen communities all over the country begin to prioritize Gigabit services as the underlying infrastructure for economic growth. Ultra-fast broadband allows easier streaming, better connectivity and the bandwidth to support all types of mobile devices. This change is creating a foundation for how humans communicate today, and how future generations communicate down the road.

ADTRAN is committed to providing the infrastructure for uninterrupted global connectivity, so it’s easy to see why we have teamed up to support Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel and their exciting community transformation initiative, America’s Best Communities. As a mentor for the City of Valparaiso, Indiana, ADTRAN will utilize the expertise gained from our Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives (ECCL) program, and link it to the initiative’s goal of helping communities realize their aspirations in leveraging technology to transform the way they live, work and play.

The city of Valparaiso is home to just over 30,000 residents, and to Valparaiso University, which accommodates roughly 4,500 students a year. With nearly two dozen K-12 schools, a cultural center, museums, theaters and shopping centers, the community is brimming with excitement about being named a quarterfinalist in the competition. The partnership between ADTRAN and Valparaiso will compliment the high level of civic engagement already found in the city by local businesses and residents. The America’s Best Communities competition is helping bring the community together as it jumpstarts economic development and reinvestment in rural America.

Supporting Frontier’s America’s Best Communities is essentially an extension of our ECCL program. Both aim to transform business and residential communities by enabling economic development and overall growth. We’ve been lucky to see firsthand how communities experience significant growth thanks to enhanced technology infrastructure. As a program partner, we expect Valparaiso to experience similar results.

If you’re unfamiliar with Frontier’s America’s Best Communities program, ADTRAN is joining several other corporate partners to mentor one of the 50 quarterfinalist communities as they move through the final stages of the contest. With $10 million on the table, the stakes are high in developing unique and innovative programs. Fifteen semifinalists will be selected in January 2016 to present their plans at the America’s Best Communities summit. Eight finalists will then receive additional funding to bring the project to life. The top three winners—those with the most innovative and effective proposals—will be announced in April 2017.

Gary Bolton is Vice President, Global Marketing at ADTRAN

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Using Wi-Fi in an innovative way in the classroom? Send us a video!

Wi-Fi in today’s classroom is as common as the chalkboard and the familiar rows of desks.  Students are eager to take advantage of new forms of learning that are more in tune with their digital upbringing. Educators are looking to new digital resources – online testing, flipped classroom learning or YouTube EDU – as a means of creating a more dynamic and engaged learning environment for their students. Wi-Fi networks are enabling schools, administrators, teachers and students to connect, communicate and learn in ways they have never done before.

As the school year winds down across the country, ADTRAN is celebrating with a contest to see which classroom is using Wi-Fi in the most innovative way.

If you think your classroom has gone above and beyond in terms of using Wi-Fi, then it’s time to take the ADTRAN Ed Tech Challenge!  Prizes for top videos will include an iPad Mini and Apple TVs.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to enter:

  1. Create a video showing how you are using Wi-Fi in your classroom and submit it online to our entry page
  2. Once you’ve submitted your entry, post it to YouTube, Twitter and/or Facebook with a title and include the hashtag #EdTechChallenge
  3. Get as many people as possible to “Like” and retweet your video including the hashtag #EdTechChallenge. We will use a combination of public voting (total number of “Likes” on Facebook and YouTube and retweets on Twitter) and an ADTRAN panel of judges to determine the winners!

The contest closes October 31, so don’t wait, get your videos in today.

Jason King is the director of marketing for the Bluesocket Business Group at ADTRAN. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he is responsible for the overall promotion and positioning of the company’s Wi-Fi solutions. Find him on Twitter @jjking24

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LAN Switch Considerations for VoIP–– Part 1: Understanding Voice over IP

So you’ve decided to upgrade to Voice over IP (VoIP), whether that’s a shiny new IP PBX to replace your old key system or moving your phone system to a cloud-hosted VoIP or Unified Communications service provider. The next question on your mind should be: is my network ready for VoIP? Seems like a redundant question – if I have a network, VoIP should work since voice is just another application on my data network.

Wrong! Over 90% of VoIP deployments are delayed or stalled because “the network is not ready.” A sobering statistic that can put a damper on all the benefits you were expecting from your new VoIP system. But there’s hope. In this series of blogs on LAN Switch considerations for VoIP, we will go into how selecting and deploying the right network infrastructure can ensure a smooth and successful VoIP deployment.

In this first blog, we will look into the unique characteristics of VoIP, the challenges of delivering voice quality and the role played by the LAN switch in the overall user experience with VoIP.

Why is voice different from other applications on the LAN?

VoIP (whether that’s voice calls or video conferences) has three essential characteristics that distinguish it from other applications on the LAN:

  1. Real-time: Voice and video communications are real-time applications unlike other applications, such as e-mail, Web browsing, Facebook, Twitter or other social media applications. Voice is also a two-way communication with both all parties involved interacting in real-time.
  2. No Guarantee: Surprise! VoIP has no guarantees of delivery. Other applications have a method for retransmission – e-mail continues to retransmit until delivered, Web pages can be refreshed, but voice packets are not retransmitted or guaranteed to be delivered.
  3. Compared with POTS: Legacy phone communications have set expectations among users about always-on, real-time communications. Even when there’s a disaster or power goes out, the expectation is the phone will work.

What are the challenges of delivering VoIP?

Voice is an application that’s constantly contending for priority on the LAN. Let’s look at some of the things that voice encounters in the LAN:

  1. Multicast storms: Multicast traffic is a form of communications that is common in enterprises and many industries that use multimedia content delivery networks. IP multicast is used for IPTV distribution in hotels, the retail sector uses IP multicast to push in-store video advertising and even campus networks use IP multicast to deliver operating system images for multiple locations.
  2. Denial of Service (DoS): DoS is commonly associated with external DoS attacks or hacking, but DoS can happen within the LAN. Windows updates or “patch Tuesday” can cause network slowdowns. Scheduled virus scans can cause applications to behave erratically on the network, and voice as a real-time application experiences the greatest impact.
  3. Spanning Tree Network Loops: How many times have you been on a conference call or Webinar and the conference bridge suddenly drops? This happens as the spanning tree in the switch resets itself to create a new network configuration for one connection, but it impacts everyone. This may not affect your work on a PC but it’s very noticeable on the voice network.

What Role Does the Switch Play in VoIP?

The LAN switch plays two key roles with respect to VoIP:

  1. Traffic Cop: The switch essentially acts as a traffic cop, identifying and prioritizing traffic, and also providing dedicated lanes to ensure network traffic flows smoothly without interruptions.
  2. Power source: The LAN switch also provides power to endpoints, such as the IP Phones. Switches with PoE provide the necessary network power for IP phones, allowing for centralized power management and improved energy efficiency.

In summary, we’ve seen that voice is a real-time application, with no guarantees of delivery and high user expectations. Voice is constantly contending for priority on the LAN. And the switch plays a central role in the overall experience with VoIP.

That begs the question: won’t any switch work for VoIP? We’ll answer that and more in part 2 of this blog series.


To learn more on this topic, view the on-demand Webinar Top Three LAN Switch Considerations When Deploying VoIP.


Samir Kakkar is product manager for ADTRAN’s Enterprise Networks Division

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