What exactly are Next Generation Networks?
Next Generation Network is the term given to radically new core network infrastructure and associated access network of Telecommunications Companies (Telcos). Since the new Millennium, Telcos have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a total revamp of their networks. These new single network infrastructures replace decades of multiple networks each providing a specific type of service and typically overlaid on each other.
The new single core network utilises the standards (protocols and interfaces) and the technologies of the Internet as the native common platform for all telecommunications services, including telephony (voice), data and video. In other words, where once, say, a data network was derived from an underlying voice switching and transmission network using additional specialist equipment overlaid on an end-to-end basis throughout the Telco infrastructure, now data communications sits alongside telephony using the same network switching and transmission elements. In fact, what was “data over voice” has now become “voice over data” as, essentially, NextGen Networks use data networking as the core rather than telephony networking as had been the case from the earliest days of the industry.
The benefits are dramatic and manifold, not least in massively reducing operating costs including many fewer people to run and support the new networks. At the same time they bring Telcos substantial improvements in flexibility, adaptability and business responsiveness.
The NGN architecture also helps to effectively decouple core network infrastructures from access networks, enabling genuine competition for provision of the local loop for both business and consumer customers – that is the connection from the customer premises to the network for fixed line or cable installations or from the customer mobile device in wireless installations.
Of major importance is the inherent decoupling of the physical infrastructure from application services (software based in NGNs) through the adoption of universal network interconnection standards. This enables any number of service providers to offer an almost limitless number of different types of services to customers irrespective of the network operator or their specific network technologies.
The door is now open to the availability of true multimedia services delivered to customers across any medium, anywhere at any time, where the demand is sufficient to warrant the investment by any service provider.