The number of operators offering 4G mobile services rose by 36 per cent to 360 globally in 2014 and nearly half of these used spectrum in 1800 Mhz band to provide the super-fast services, says a report. The report by Global Mobile Suppliers Association has said about 44 per cent of these operators used spectrum in 1800 Mhz band for rolling out 4G services. Interestingly, In India, at present, the spectrum in 1800 Mhz band is primarily used for 2G mobile services. Also, the frequencies in the band are available at lower prices than the spectrum in 2300 Mhz which is largely used by Indian telcos to roll out the fourth-generation services. The report said that as many as 360 operators have deployed 4G network across 124 countries by the end of 2014 as against 264 operators in 2013. Source

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Terabit super-channels and multi-layer switching architectures enable optimal capacity allocation and network efficiency to meet evolving network dynamics. Anuj Malik Senior Manager, Product and Solutions Marketing, and Gaylord Hart Director CATV Market Segment, Infinera, explain how. Around 150 million kilometres of new optical fiber are produced each year, and there is many times that already installed since 1997. Network operators must ensure maximal return on their investment, as well as future proofing new installations in the face of colossal and rising bandwidth demand. Significant progress has already been made in core networks by migrating from 10 Gb/s to 100 Gb/s optical transport waves that allow 8 Tb/s or more of capacity to be carried on traditional fiber using the standard 50 GHz C-Band ITU-T G.694.1 grid. However, bandwidth growth projections already suggest that soon even 8 Tb/s per fiber will no longer be enough. What is more, the operational costs of deploying so much capacity in 100G increments can be high. Network providers must be prepared for ever-higher capacity demands, and they must increase operational efficiency to meet these demands in a flexible, timely and cost-effective manner. This article outlines why next generation optical networks are needed to replace today’s rigid channel structure with a flexible grid of variable-width optical super-channels. These terabit scale super-channels can then be implemented to meet appropriate modulation and reach requirements, with provision for software controlled optical switching. Efficient use of bandwidth To make best use of fiber spectral capacity and lower CapEx, most metro and long-haul optical networks use Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) to transport multiple waves over a single fiber. The ITU standardized a fixed DWDM channel plan with built-in guard bands between each optical channel to allow for multiplexing and de-multiplexing of individual waves for routing as well as filtering waves at their destination. These guard bands occupy up to 25% of spectrum, which amounts to a loss of capacity. The industry is now migrating to optical super-channels, which are much wider than the traditional ITU-T grid channels, but which have no internal guard bands between waves. Figure 1 – DWDM Guard Bands and Spectral Requirements Figure 1 shows the difference: on the left there are 12x100G waves using the standard grid with guard bands highlighted in red. So 1.2 Tb/s of transport capacity requires 600 GHz of optical spectrum for transport. On the right is an equivalent multi-carrier super-channel also with 12x100G waves. Because the super-channel is switched or multiplexed/demultiplexed as a whole, no internal guard bands are needed, only those at the lower and upper edges of the super-channel shown in red. So the same 1.2 Tb/s capacity only needs 462.5 GHz – a 23% reduction of optical spectrum (comparable to the saving when you buy one economy-size pack instead of twelve mini-packs). From an optical channel perspective, it is the difference between twelve discrete 50 GHz channels and one 462.5 GHz super-channel. This is just an example, as super-channels may be implemented in many other ways to support up to 24 Tb/s per fiber – Figure 2 shows some alternatives. Figure 2 – Super-Channel Implementation Options The single-wave super-channel on the left is the simplest to implement with the fewest number of components, but to support 384 Gbaud it requires ultra-fast silicon that might not be available for 8 years or so. A single-wave super-channel also allows no flexibility in allocating or routing bandwidth with smaller granularity since it consists of a single indivisible wave. The dual-wave super-channel in the center is only a bit more complex, with just twice the components, but still needs 192 Gbaud electronics that might not be available for another 5 years. It is also restrictive, but it does allow the two waves to be configured and handled with a choice of one integrated channel or two separate channels. The 12-wave super-channel consisting of twelve 100G waves shown at the right does require twelve times the components of the single-wave version, but it does operate at speeds supported by today’s silicon technology. It also provides greatest flexibility, since individual waves may be combined in any permutation, and modulation formats can be assigned on a wave-by-wave basis to further reduce CapEx. Most network operators would put up with this greater complexity now and enjoy higher capacity, rather than wait several years in the hope of a simpler solution. Photonic integration, however, makes it possible to implement all the necessary components for a terabit scale multi-carrier super-channel on a pair of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), one each for transmit and receive functions. Third generation PICs supporting 5x100G super-channels aligned with the ITU-T fixed channel grid have already been deployed in the field for over two years. They integrate over 600 optical functions on a pair of chips, to replace over 100 discrete optical components and over 250 fiber couplings – with significant improvements in density, power consumption, heat generation, and reliability. So PICs can bring the component count back in line with the single-wave implementation as the most practical path to scaling optical networks in the future. Balancing reach vs. spectral efficiency Higher order modulation formats make more efficient use of spectrum, but are more susceptible to noise and cannot reliably reach as far. For example, 16QAM with 4 bits encoded per symbol is spectrally twice as efficient as QPSK with 2 bits encoded per symbol, but its reach is about a quarter of that of QPSK. Provisionable modulation would allow each channel to be optimised for reach versus spectral efficiency, and so deliver greater cost savings, but it would require a flexible grid system to support variable bandwidth channels. The ITU-T’s latest WDM grid specification, G.694.1, has defined a flexible grid with WDM channels having a 12.5 GHz width granularity in place of the coarser 50 GHz width in the fixed grid. This flexible grid lets the provider define an aggregate super-channel in multiples of 12.5 GHz to accommodate any combination of optical carriers, modulation formats and data rates, in order to balance spectral efficiency against extended reach of the optical signals. In addition, the flexible grid makes it possible to allocate frequency slots and modify modulation formats to meet changing to traffic demands. This allows resources to be used efficiently in response to traffic variations. Over the past two decades the bit rates and modulation formats of optical transmission systems have evolved dramatically, but it is increasingly difficult to raise the bit rate while maintaining spectral efficiency and reach. This flexible grid system will allow operators to install line systems today that will accommodate virtually any type of super-channel tomorrow– and so future proof today’s capital expenditure. Multi-layer switching Network planners need to consider not just capacity, but also the mix of service types. Even though the line side transmission rate is evolving beyond 100 Gb/s, more than 95% of the client services in the network are still 10G or less, with muxponders being used to aggregate these services onto 100G wavelengths. But 100G muxponders do not provide any ability to groom or switch sub-wavelength traffic within or between wavelengths. This can lead to low utilization of deployed bandwidth and therefore over-deployment of 100G wavelengths, also termed the “muxponder tax”. The digital switching architecture solves this problem by efficiently grooming client services into line side but as the demands become fully-fill, it makes more sense to use optical switching for low cost. Next generation optical network should support a multi-layer switching architecture that integrates digital and reconfigurable optical switching. This combines the benefits of a digital switching for sub-wavelength grooming and optical switching for operational simplicity and flexibility for express traffic. Figure 3 – Optical, Digital, and Multi-Layer Switching Figure 3 illustrates the difference. In optical-only switching, muxponders aggregate low speed traffic onto the higher speed line side waves switched as a whole – with no ability to add/drop traffic at intermediate nodes. This is very efficient, given sufficient traffic to fill the line side wave. With digital-only switching, low speed traffic is efficiently aggregated onto line side waves, but all the service traffic is routed through intermediate nodes, even if it is not being added or dropped at those nodes. Digital switching is efficient for filling line side waves and add/dropping traffic from those waves at multiple add/drop sites. Using multi-layer switching, digital switching can efficiently groom traffic onto line side waves to reduce stranded bandwidth, and these waves can then be directly routed optically to those nodes where client traffic is added or dropped. This uses the minimum number of wavelengths under both extreme conditions: either when demand is low and the wavelengths are not filled, or when demand is high and the wavelengths can be highly filled. The way ahead The unceasing demand for additional optical transport bandwidth is driving new technology at a very rapid pace to increase spectral efficiency and bandwidth utilization, all while lowering the overall transport cost per bit. Multi-carrier super-channels (which operate on a flexible grid channel plan that supports variable bandwidth channels) increase spectral capacity by eliminating the inefficient guard bands associated with fixed grid channel plans and by enabling provisionable modulation formats, which allow operators to configure their networks for optimum spectral capacity versus reach. 16QAM modulation can deliver up to 24 Tb/s of capacity per fiber, but at the expense of much shorter reach compared to QPSK. To support multi-carrier super-channels, a flexible grid line system is required which allows channel and switching bandwidth to be assigned as needed to each individual variable bandwidth super-channel. The flexible grid architecture supports bandwidth assignments in the C-band in 12.5 GHz increments, allowing efficient use of the C-band for both fixed and flexible grid channels. To achieve maximum transport efficiency with super-channels, which have much higher bandwidth than 100G fixed grid waves, a multi-layer switching architecture with integrated optical and digital layer switching is required. This architecture optimizes super-channel bandwidth utilization by allowing sub-lambda OTN digital grooming within and between super-channels, and optimizes super-channel routing between destinations with flexible grid optical switching. The resulting “optical data plane” is also ideally suited to integrated Control Plane operation, whether that is GMPLS today, or a Carrier SDN Control Plane in the future. References: 1. Anuj Malik & Gaylord Hart, “The Evolution of Next-Gen Optical Networks: Terabit Super-Channels and Flexible Grid ROADM Architectures”, SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2014 Proceedings 2. Soumya Roy et.al, “Evaluating Efficiency Of Multi-Layer Switching in Future Optical Transport Networks”, OFC 2013

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The Reserve Bank of India has proposed relaxation to the rules on Call and Put Options. According to sources, in a letter to the finance ministry, RBI has asked the government for downside protection to foreign investors upon their exit- the move comes after Tata Sons moved the central bank in the DoCoMo matter. Romal Shetty, ED and National Head, KPMG said that if norms are in place, it will ease entry of foreign flows in India. He believes global telecom companies are looking to enter India and there must be a safeguard to protect the Indian company’s interest in industry. Adding to the discussion, Vivek Kathpalia of Nishith Desai Associates’ welcomes RBI recommendations on downside protection for foreign direct investment exits. According to him, the downside protection is very important for the realty sector. Source:

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India’s tele-density reached 76.55%, with the total subscriber base reaching 957.61 million that includes 569.56 million in urban and 388.05 million in rural regions, data on the sector regulator’s website showed. The number of telephone subscribers in India showed “a monthly growth rate of 0.61%,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in its report. The wireless subscriber base grew 0.6% to touch 930.20 million at the end of September, or a tele-density of 74.55%, while the wireline subscriber base declined from 27.52 million August to 27.41 million at the end of September, giving it a tele-density of 2.20%, the regulator said. India’s total broadband connections reach 75.73 million that includes 60.61 million urban subscribers, Trai said. Source:

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The telecom auctions in February will see the sale of only 5MHz of 3G spectrum, a dampener to the telecom industry, which was pitching for availability of at least 20 MHz as suggested by regulator Trai. Although the government moved ahead with the process of procuring an additional 15 MHz of spectrum through creation of an exclusive defence band for the armed forces, the exercise will easily stretch beyond one year. The Cabinet approved the creation of the defence band and a defence interest zone — running up to 50 kms from the country’s borders — though the issue of finalizing reserve price for 3G spectrum was not taken up. “This matter (defence band) had been pending for the last eight years and we have worked hard for sorting this out,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. Source:

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Itwas an action-packed year for the telecom sector. It started with the telecom auctions of the cancelled licences of 2008, where the government received bids worth Rs. 61,126 crore. It also saw Bharti Airtel, country’s largest operator, registering its first rise in profits after many months of decline. Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, which is yet to commence operations, bid for 2G spectrum. There was some bad news too. The 2G scam hearings are still on. Vodafone’s tax case is still pending. Some companies like Uninor were reduced to just being regional players. Others like Aircel and Videocon are slowly becoming irrelevant operators. But the worst was when Mumbai’s Loop Telecom shut shop, leaving about a million subscribers in the lurch. Source:

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Ahigh-stakes spectrum auction, estimated to fetch as much as Rs 84,000 crore just at the base price, is on the cards with a top government panel striking down regulator Trai’s suggested pricing and recommending a higher threshold for the coveted airwaves. A competitive bidding is expected to fetch the government upwards of Rs 1 lakh crore with ease, coming in as a huge enabler to bridge the fiscal deficit at 4.1% of the GDP. The inter-ministerial Telecom Commission, headed by Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg, upped the reserve price for the 3G airwaves (in the 2,100 MHz frequency) to Rs 3,705 crore per megahertz, about 36% to the Rs 2,720 crore that regulator Trai had recommended. Source:

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India’s Internet economy will grow to almost Rs.10 trillion by 2018, accounting for 5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Internet economy includes e-commerce services and products, advertising, online content, devices, connectivity, as well as private infrastructure and government spend in these areas. India’s Internet economy, which was about Rs.3.6 trillion in 2013, contributed 3.2% to the GDP, the largest among the developing countries and sixth largest globally, the report said. About half the population, or 580 million Indians, will be online in the next three years, including people from all age groups, women and the rural population. Source:

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Demand for contiguous airwaves – blocks of frequencies that flow from one to another without any big gap in between – tops the wish-list of the telecom industry for the New Year. This is essential for high-speed data traffic and meeting the government’s Digital India initiative, says the lobby group that represents the nation’s top operators. The operators also want the government to help restore vitality in a sector that until a few years ago was a showpiece of India’s growth story, but has lost momentum due to stiff competition and interest cost on the debt companies took on to buy airwaves and expand network. After a mediocre 2013, the operators have seen some turnaround in 2014, and they expect 2015 to bring about market consolidation. The demands for the New Year also include guidelines on spectrum sharing and trading, simpler tax rules and hassle-free permits to lay cables and set up other infrastructure. Source:

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Increasing telecom infrastructure at the village level and taking rural teledensity to 100 per cent will be the prime focus areas for telecom secretary Rakesh Garg who took the charge on Thursday. “It will be prime objective to take broadband connectivity to village level, that is to increase telecom infrastructure. Second priority is take rural telecom penetration from 44 per cent to 100 per cent in coming 3-4 years,” Garg told PTI. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad have assigned this task to the department of telecom and his main focus will be to fulfil their vision. Source:

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