Bell Labs predicts 560% increase in metro network traffic by 2017

Created December 10, 2013
News and Business

Network dynamics are shifting, with more data traffic staying in metropolitan access and aggregation networks instead of traversing the core, according to a new study by Bell Labs, the R&D arm of French systems vendor Alcatel-Lucent.

The study, entitled: “Metro Network Traffic Growth: An Architecture Impact Study,” indicated that traffic from video services will skyrocket by 720 percent while data centre traffic will increase more than 440 percent during the same time period. Video and data centre traffic are the key drivers to the overall forecast increase of 560 percent traffic growth in the metro.
Even more significantly, the study found that by 2017 more than 75 percent of that traffic will stay in metro networks, compared to 57 percent today.
 “This is the first traffic study to show the real impact of growth on operator networks,” said Basil Alwan, head of IP Routing and Transport for Alcatel-Lucent. The goal of the study was to understand the impact this will have on a service provider’s network architecture.
The trend behind the headline is an increasing number of traffic sources in the metro, including fixed and wireless broadband access points as well as data centres and content caching. Rising demand for broadband services is driving enterprises, service providers and web-scale companies to bring content closer to their customers in order to improve operational efficiency and manage the customers’ quality of experience, The most popular video content, for instance, is being cached closer to the consumer so it can be delivered locally over metro networks rather than being accessed from a central cache over the backbone network. In addition, the growing demand for cloud services means that enterprises and operators are adding data centres within the metro area in order to support service delivery.
These shifting traffic patterns mean more traffic will stay in the metro – 75 percent by 2017, as compared with 57 percent today. Consequently, only 25 percent of data traffic will traverse the backbone in the future. “Service providers require a network architecture that will ensure that the metro remains a key contributor – rather than bottleneck – in the new virtualized environment,” said Alcatel-Lucent in a statement.
Service providers will need to evolve to a new type of network architecture – one optimized for the cloud – that will help control costs, guarantee quality and deliver new revenue-generating services to connect users and the cloud, the company adds. The tools they will need in their toolbox include integrated IP, optical and management solutions together with software-defined networking (SDN). This will allow them to deploy networks that meet dynamic and rapid growth in customer demand for video and other high-bandwidth cloud services with instantaneous access over the metro network.
Alcatel-Lucent says the move to cloud-optimized metro networks plays to its core strengths of deploying massively scalable, efficient and agile networks. Well, it would!
By Pauline Rigby
See Also: 

Press release: Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs forecasts a 560 percent increase in data traffic on metro networks by 2017, driving a major shift in network design
White Paper: Metro Network Traffic Growth: An Architecture Impact Study (PDF download)
Alcatel-Lucent Blog: Shift metro networks into high gear


This article was written
by Pauline Rigby