With the ever-increasing deployment of advanced technologies such as internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G, the deployment of high capacity optic fibre cable (OFC) networks, both for the last mile and backhaul, has become imperative. The consumption of bandwidth-intensive applications is going to further fuel the demand for fibre in the country. A look at the various use cases of OFC enabling new-age technology adoption…
Industries are deploying advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning (ML) to become increasingly interconnected and bring faster services to customers. With the growth of these technologies globally, optic fibre networks are becoming essential, given the volume of data, scale and speed required to analyse the information. Many industry analysts believe that the benefits of various AI/ML applications can only be realised with a highly available, real-time capable optic fibre network. Since low latency and high transmission speeds are the prerequisites for various AI/ML use cases, the widespread deployment of OFC is the best way forward.
The launch of 5G will add to the enormous pool of data on existing networks as it will usher in a more connected world. To manage the quantum of data, quality infrastructure will have to be deployed across the country. Thus, the key to unlocking the full potential of 5G is the extension and large-scale deployment of optic fibre. According to the TAIPA, in order to make 5G a success story in India, it is essential to invest in network densification through the provisioning of fibre, small cells and mobile towers. At present, fibre-based backhaul is still at a nascent stage in India. The OFC density is significantly inadequate, both in urban and rural areas.
As per industry estimates, in order to implement a robust 5G network across the country, there is a need to deploy 100 million km of OFC per year. Currently, the deployment rate is very slow at nearly 25 million fibre km a year. To make 5G a commercial success, it is imperative that the fiberisation and densification of tower sites is done in a time-bound manner. To this end, Indian telcos may need investments of up to Rs 1 trillion for laying fibre networks over the next two to three years. According to a report by Crisil, 5G will account for more than 70 per cent of fiberisation in India.
A smart city is essentially called smart because it comprises various such systems and software that run on algorithms and are able to function intelligently with minimal human intervention. In a smart city, fibre provides the necessary backhaul support for the efficient functioning of city networks, and handling and transmission of the large amount of data generated from these networks and systems. OFC facilitates the installation of sensors, which are a critical component of intelligent solutions deployed in smart cities. In addition, OFC offers higher reliability and security in networks, supporting lower attenuation for transmission over long distances.
Going forward, the use of advanced technologies in smart cities will lead to a strong demand for OFC and fibre optic interconnectivity products. With its virtually unlimited capacity, OFC provides the perfect backbone for the delivery of high speed internet in a smart city. Besides, the successful implementation of new technologies such as 5G, IoT and AI is not possible without a strong fibre network and this presents a strong case for the deployment of a citywide OFC network.
AI-based applications, AR and VR are altering the way consumers are consuming content by providing a fully immersive and personalised viewing experience. The high bandwidth capability and latency performance of the passive optical network enable light access technologies to provide VR/AR services. In addition, the high capacity fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) ensures high quality broadband access, which supports the VR experience. The capacity requirement of AR/VR services can be fulfilled by deep fibre deployment, both FTTH and fibre backhaul.
The automotive industry is undergoing a transformation with the rise of IoT. The industry is currently witnessing the emergence of connected cars 2.0 and vehicle-to-everything technology. In the connected cars space, a large quantum of data is captured by IoT sensors and strong network connectivity is an imperative for their success, which can be enabled by optical fibre.
As per a recent study by IEEE Spectrum, automotive companies are increasingly exploring where and when they can use OFC-based connectivity to avoid electromagnetic interference. Fibre optic communications do not experience crosstalk, electromagnetic emissions or signal distortions and thus can be placed near high-power electric cables and devices to provide reliable functioning.
With the growing demand for reliable and easy-to-access backups, it becomes important to secure and transmit data effectively. This brings to the fore the need for data centres to host mission-critical applications. Speed and reliability are two primary requirements for a data centre and they are satisfactorily met by fibre networks. Enterprises are adopting optic fibre in order to integrate these hyperscale data centres with uninterrupted communication networks. As a result, the data centre space has witnessed an upsurge in optic fibre cabling in the past few years.
Optic fibre has a variety of use cases that make it relevant across a number of sectors. Some of the industries that require optical fibre are as follows:
- Healthcare: The medical industry has traditionally utilised OFC for image transfer and laser signal delivery. The ability to withstand high temperatures, strong electromagnetic fields like MRIs and ionising radiation make fibre optics the perfect medical tool. Besides, it is non-toxic, chemically inert and intrinsically safe, making it ideal for use in and near the human body.
- Agriculture: The key concerns in the modern agricultural sector such as water optimisation and management are being addressed with the help of fibre optics. It has enabled the accurate monitoring of water quality and pipeline health.
- E-education: OFC has helped provide an improved structure to the whole system of online learning and teaching. OFC allows students, teachers and administrators to take advantage of revolutionary technologies such as AI/ML and AR/VR, while also reducing bandwidth costs.
- Transportation: With the large-scale deployment of fibre optics, intelligent traffic systems, connected cars, smart poles, etc. can more effectively manage the flow of traffic, minimise commute time and also prevent accidents.
- Media and entertainment: Indian consumers are increasingly shifting towards internet-driven applications such as video-on-demand, OTT platforms and mobile gaming. This, in turn, is driving investments in OFC network expansion throughout the country.
- Aerospace: With the use of fibre optics, the aerospace industry can bring about improvements in in-flight entertainment and passenger Wi-Fi services. For instance, recently, Jio and Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s subsidiary, AeroMobile, partnered to launch India’s first in-flight services for JioPostPaid Plus users. This will allow travellers to stay connected during flights through voice and data services.
As Indian enterprises adopt new technologies such as IoT, AI, ML, big data and blockchain, the consumption of data is only going to increase. In order to produce more data, a strong fibre infrastructure will be required.