Insight: 5G and the Need for SDN Flow Optimization

As more and more mobile subscribers run bandwidth-intensive applications on a variety of devices, networks (and their operators) are strained to maintain service quality.

With the annual throughput of mobile traffic expected to increase from 58 Exabytes in 2013 to roughly 335 Exabytes by 2020, it’s clear that brute-force over-provisioning of bandwidth is no longer an economically feasible solution. Instead, operators must implement other strategies to meet growing quality of experience (QoE) expectations especially in the face of finite spectrum. 

As fast as they can be deployed, however, some industry experts still expect 4G networks will reach their limits within five years. That means 5G networks and standards are the inevitable answer, taking bandwidth another order of magnitude forward, supporting 1000% device densification and the Internet of Things.

To develop a future-proof strategy for maintaining service quality in the face of increasing bandwidth demand (as much as that is possible, anyway), operators must carefully consider many factors. Some things they should be asking include:

  • How will we use 5G to meet stricter performance requirement, such as sub-ms latency bounds, tighter packet loss, and higher availability limits? 
  • How will we apply the software defined network (SDN) approach–separating control and data planes–to implement multiple frequency bands without changing existing control infrastructure?
  • How will we extend monitoring to the virtual fabric?
  • How will we make our backhaul performance assurance as flexible as the HetNets themselves?
  • How will we adapt our existing infrastructure to 5G?

For insights into some possible answers to these questions, see:

In her role as Senior Marketing Writer at Accedian, Mae blogs, manages social media strategy, and produces a variety of collateral focused on thought leadership around telecom industry news and trends. She has more than 15 years of journalism and marketing experience, covering business-to-business technology, including telecom, for a variety of organizations including and Ziff Davis. Mae holds a B.A. in communications from Thomas Edison State College.

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  • Acronym Guide

    327 Terms, Page 1 of 82


    Second Generation
    A cellular telecom network that uses second-generation wireless technology. Such networks digitally encrypt phone conversations, and allow data services including SMS text messages.


    Third Generation
    A cellular network that uses third-generation wireless technology based on standards that support wireless voice telephony, mobile and fixed internet access, video calls, and mobile TV. Such networks are capable of data transfer rates of at least 200 Kbps and as fast as 21 Mbps.


    Third Generation Partnership Project
    International collaboration among telecommunications associations, with the purpose of developing and maintaining the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specification for 3G mobile networks.


    Fourth Generation
    A cellular network that uses fourth generation wireless technology to deliver mobile broadband internet access in addition to voice and text messaging. Two synonymous 4G systems are commercially deployed: Mobile WiMAX an Long Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is the predominant system in the U.S.

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