Stephan Rettenberger, Senior Vice President, marketing and investor relations, ADVA

The move towards open and automated networks has opened up a plethora of opportunities for companies like ADVA that create innovative open networking solutions. In an interview with Stephan Rettenberger, senior vice president, marketing and investor relations, ADVA talks about the role ADVA is playing in this domain and the company’s key focus areas in the Indian market…

What are the key benefits of open networking solutions for delivering cloud and mobile services? What role is ADVA playing in this domain?

For carriers and communication service providers (CSPs), the challenge is to provide market competitive connectivity to as many customers as possible at the lowest possible cost. That means making good use of existing infrastructure, especially in the access part of the network, and intelligent investment in new technology to support growth and emerging applications. Openness is fundamentally important to achieve this. ADVA helps carriers to simplify and automate their networks and build a scalable network infrastructure that is future-proof. By deploying open networking solutions, carriers can combine various traffic streams from different access technologies onto a single transport platform. In addition, ADVA offers one of the most scalable platforms in the market, allowing seamless data transport from customer premises to core of the network. Thus, carriers can bypass some of the small access nodes, eliminating the expense of operating these locations.

The ability to deliver more bandwidth to more customers from fewer sites located farther back in the network enables operators to streamline their networks while simultaneously improving the end-user experience. Energy-hungry devices, which are needed for data processing, can be concentrated in fewer network locations. This is important for so-called edge computing solutions and leads to a network architecture that is more energy-efficient and easier to operate.

ADVA’s three technology pillars are fundamental to the rapidly advancing digitalization of ecosystems and the successful adoption of cloud and mobile services: open optical networking technology with wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) that provides the scalable transmission capacity needed to handle bandwidth growth; carrier ethernet (CE) with network function virtualisation (NFV) which allows flexible and fast deployment of new communication services and synchronisation technology that ensures maximum performance in the network. ADVA creates innovative open networking solutions from inception through manufacturing and into service.

What are ADVA’s current focus areas in the Indian market? What are some of the new products/solutions that the company is working on?

India is a rapidly growing market, which represents a great opportunity for the entire ADVA solution portfolio. We are focusing on our three technology pillars to address the soaring demand of India’s CSP market. With our FSP 3000 open optical networking platform we address the ever-increasing connectivity demands driven by domestic and international enterprise customer bandwidth growth. With the latest generation of the products which are about to be introduced to the Indian market we improve the cost per bit transported over the network once again allowing our customers to offer their services at more attractive price points while leveraging their infrastructure and resources better.

ADVA’s Carrier Ethernet (CE) portfolio in combination with NFV functionality helps the local service providers to extend their service offerings and at the same time speed up the delivery to their clients. Last but not least ADVA’s market leading synchronisation product portfolio, which is used in fixed- but even more important, also in as well as mobile networks is the foundation to be able to deliver highly accurate timing information and assurance to improve application performance within the network and applications delivered to the end users as 5G mobile networks pushing speed, capacity, coverage and latency to a whole new level.

How does ADVA plan to contribute to India’s evolving 5G ecosystem?

Digitisation is transforming networks requiring new technologies and operational models for 5G. Multi-cloud concepts for enterprises, edge computing solutions for network operators, and internet of things (IoT) all require a robust and scalable telecommunications infrastructure – with more optical data transmission, new models for the provision of communication services and more precise network synchronisation. Our product portfolio and investments in recent years address precisely these aspects. We are technologically well positioned for the new opportunities of this network transformation – a transformation based on openness, virtualization and security.

What has been the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic on ADVA’s business? 

While many industries have been struggling for economic survival, information and communications technology (ICT) is increasingly becoming the focus of investments. The current crisis shows how important an efficient and robust telecommunications infrastructure is for the functioning of an increasingly digital economy. As early as 2019, we had already shifted part of our value creation out of China in response to US trade policy. These measures gave us additional flexibility and agility and made our supply chain less vulnerable to regional lockdown regulations. Demand for our products and services has been pleasingly robust in the fiscal year to date. Order entry from our largest customer group, CSPs, continues to be satisfactory especially in Europe, where network expansion has traditionally been strongly geared to current demand, further investments and upgrades are being made to adequately support the new data streams for home office, video conferencing and streaming services, while at the same time laying the foundations for 5G.

According to you, what are some of the key technology trends and growth opportunities that will shape the Indian telecom market? How does ADVA plan to leverage these?

The current pandemic has shown that industrialised countries will need to rethink their strategies towards faster digitalisation. Today’s companies need above all high data security and speed. It is secondary whether it is a transfer of data between two company locations, an application for the company’s customers or an application in the cloud. As a result, companies will pay more attention to the location of their data and connections in the future. Also, for the internet of things (IoT) it is important how and where the three critical functions of data processing, storage and transmission work together. The resulting edge computing solutions generate their added value as much as possible by optimising two parameters:  the amount of data to be processed, and the proximity to the place where the data is collected and needed.

We empower CSPs to capitalise on the trend towards more localised functions and use their geographic footprint to their competitive advantage by creating tailor-made solutions with low signal latency and high security.

At the network edge, many operators deploy packet-based CE technology as a unified, data-optimised transmission solution in their infrastructure. Business customers appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of the CE technology, and already know the ethernet protocol from their local area networks. For services that address functions in higher network layers, however, network operators often rely on so-called routers and switches. Recently, the adoption of NFV has changed the market at the network edge, and the separation between the two technology segments is disappearing. Through the virtualisation of network functions, the creation of new services becomes a software-centric process, and new value-added services in higher network layers can easily be deployed over CE connections. This allows network operators to reduce the complexity of application-specific hardware in their portfolio and to offer new business models through a universal, programmable infrastructure, thus generating additional revenues.

In addition to connecting business customers, CSPs can also rely on fiber-based CE solutions to backhaul traffic from mobile base stations. The success of smart phones and the associated high-speed mobile services created a bandwidth explosion. Mobile operators are now challenged to provide significantly higher bandwidth via their mobile networks without compromise on geographic coverage. Operators consequently upgraded their mobile networks and introduced 4G (LTE) and LTE-Advanced (4.5G) technologies. The commercial introduction of the new fifth generation (5G) has started and will have a significant impact on carrier infrastructure investments. While the new mobile technologies allow the delivery of more bandwidth over the air interface to the mobile devices, operators also need to solve the backhaul challenge from base stations to their core networks. Higher-speed backhaul today is generally implemented via fiber and optimized for data transmission supporting all the different applications. In order to make the expansion financially viable, close collaboration between wireline operators and mobile network operators with shared infrastructure will be necessary in most markets.

In the context of newer 5G technologies, not only the bandwidth in the networks increases, but also the number of antennas multiplies. This densification of radio heads requires a significant investment in the fiber optic network and 5G antenna technology as well as much more precise time and frequency synchronization throughout the network.  The build-out of mobile broadband networks drives the demand for a new generation of fiber-based CE solutions that deliver and assure high data throughput and accurate timing information.

In summary, the trend towards enterprise multi-cloud solutions, IoT and corresponding edge computing solutions, as well as the increase in antenna density in 5G mobile networks, are creating new market dynamics and opportunities at the network edge. ADVA offers a highly competitive solution set in this space.

The company’s product portfolio empowers service providers to provide their customers with intelligent solutions quickly and efficiently in all relevant application scenarios. The portfolio allows the provision of virtual network functions and the definition of a universal network termination. In combination with ADVA’s Ensemble software solutions, network functions can be reliably hosted and orchestrated. In mobile backhaul applications, the portfolio excels by delivering and assuring precise synchronisation information in addition to powerful data plane performance.