Trials of Operators: Shark attacks, natural disasters, and non-stop streaming…

Recently, Google released footage of sharks attacking its undersea cables. But ‘Jaws’ isn’t the only problem a network operator needs to worry about; there are also fishing trawlers and natural disasters which also pose a serious threat. And the challenges don’t stop there; non-stop streaming and bandwidth guzzling data centres are further obstacles that network providers must overcome. With increasing bandwidth demands being placed on networks, it’s time for networks to ensure they’re running seamlessly 24/7...

Forces of nature

Fishing trawlers, ship anchors, subsea earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis are ever-present threats for network cables, and as Google found, the electrical signals emitted by subsea fibres trick sharks into thinking they’re fish. These forces of nature can cause havoc for internet communications – as was seen in Taiwan in 2009 when the earthquakes and landslides caused by Typhoon Morakot cut eight submarine cables. Not only did internet users in Singapore, Malyasia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China encounter internet congestion and slow access, but Chinese ISPs also reportedly lost 70% of Internet capacity to the USA after the cables were cut.

Although physical damage is hard to prevent, cutting-edge technology enables networks to rise to the challenge.

Although these are age-old issues that have presented themselves since the very first subsea cables were laid over 150 years ago, networks constantly have to work to reinforce their cables. However, the issue no longer means the whole network goes down the moment nature strikes; technology has evolved to ensure that network providers can carry on as normal…

Networks need to be agile and software needs to work seamlessly with hardware to ensure physical wear and tear doesn’t bring the network to a standstill. Network operators need a control panel that is easy to use and enables them to adapt to the physical challenges they face simply through software. A well-designed management control panel provides the central reliable-link between the critical hardware, software and the network operators. This makes it possible for networks to identify issues with fibre optic cables quickly so traffic can be rerouted with minimal impact to the service being provided.

The connected world

It’s not just Mother Nature we need to prepare for, either. Businesses and consumers alike are increasingly demanding safe and efficient delivery of data-intensive content. Video streaming and online gaming have been instrumental in driving bandwidth demand for consumers, whilst business demands for cloud-based data centres and storage architectures are adding to the network strain.

Non-stop streaming and bandwidth guzzling data centres are further obstacles that network providers must overcome.

As core network traffic continues to increase at a rate of 40% year-on-year in order to meet the growing expectations of businesses and individuals for connectivity; providers need to look to innovative technologies that can give them the extra capacity they need. With an infinite pool of bandwidth waiting to be tapped into, fibre optic super-channels deliver large volumes of data in bulk effortlessly. This means they can keep up with businesses’ and consumers’ growing demands.

Although physical damage is hard to prevent, cutting-edge technology enables networks to rise to the challenge. Innovative software works hand-in-hand with current network infrastructure to introduce scalability and flexibility which results in an intelligent network that is ready for the future. It’s not all doom and gloom for networks, but now is a great opportunity to prepare for what’s to come...

What do you think poses the biggest threat to operators? Let us know in the comments.

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