SUPERCOMM keynote: Verizon touts the smart network world

A key theme at this year's SUPERCOMM show is all about using networking technology to create smarts: 'Smarter Planet, Smarter Health Care and Smarter Education.' One service provider taking this notion to heart during the morning SUPERCOMM keynote is Verizon Communications' chairman Ivan Seidenberg.

Despite the state of the global economy, Seidenberg believes that three technology elements can help drive more efficiencies and so-called 'smarts' in any vertical industry segment. The technology tools included in this smart concept toolbox include wireless, broadband access and global IP business networking:

  • Wireless: Verizon Wireless reports that it sees data traffic doubling every year, and in 4-5 years, video will account for more than 60 percent in data growth. To keep up with that growth, Verizon has made significant investments in 700 MHz spectrum and building a LTE 4G-capable wireless network that will be up and running in 25-30 markets next year. This network investment will accommodate smart devices, multimedia applications and machine to machine applications.
  • Broadband: Seeing the Internet evolve from a text to a visual-based medium, Verizon predicts that video will account for 75 percent of the Internet traffic in the next five years. Verizon has been tuning into that trend by continually expanding its FiOS FTTP-based service. By 2010, Verizon says the FiOS network will pass more than 17 million homes. On the horizon is the vision of a smart home to become a platform to manage everything from security, energy use, telework and distance learning.
  • Enterprise Global IP Connectivity: In the enterprise space, Verizon sees global IP traffic growing 40 percent. That trend has driven Verizon Business to turn up multiple undersea global cables, deploying mesh networking to maintain redundancy and upgrading the network to 100 Gbps speeds.

At the heart of all of these new innovations is an ongoing investment in IP technology. The investment in IP technology, argued Seidenberg, actually stimulates not only a more productive workforce, but also happier consumers that can get access to a more diverse set of products and services. Enterprises, for one, looking to cut costs and improve their respective businesses have seen great benefits from the ongoing communications network investments. Seidenberg cited a statement by economist Robert Atkinson that said the acceleration in productivity since 1995 is attributable to the IT revolution. "A new study by Frost and Sullivan confirms the fact," he said. "In a survey of 3600 enterprise customers across 10 countries, they found every dollar invested in IT technologies and collaboration generated four dollars in return."

Seidenberg added that communications investment for the economy also "expands the capacity for innovation by building intelligence into the core of network like never before," he said. "This stimulates demand for richer content, more advanced software and more sophisticated electronics. It also puts a whole new set of tools into the hands of customers which enhance the quality of life today and promises new solutions to the issues we face as a society going forward."
But technology was not the only thing on Seidenberg's mind. Regulatory issues such as, net neutrality also loomed large. What has vexed both Verizon and its RBOC brother AT&T is that the rules for net neutrality unfairly treat incumbent telecom service providers differently than newer service providers like Google. "The proponents of net neutrality have a view that network providers like Verizon and application providers like Google occupy fundamentally different parts of the Internet ecosystem with a binary world of dumb pipes on one hand and smart applications on the other," Seidenberg said. "This is a mistake, pure and simple. It's an analog idea in a digital universe." A key part of maintaining smart networks is the ability to analyze all web traffic and deliver services to the customer base without interruption.  

Saying that its security team analyzes 5 billion security events on the global Internet each day, Verizon customers never see those issues because they are rectified with proactive network management. And that need to prioritize and understand the packets going over the network is what could be in danger under the proposed net neutrality rules, argues Seidenberg. "The truth is we have never provided dumb pipes ever," he said. "As more commerce takes place on the network customers will rely on quality of service, reliability and product reliability that network operators provide."   

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