Networks Keep Us Going

With COVID-19 catapulting an already rapid worldwide digital transformation ahead by years,  Nokia’s IP and optical networks provide the world’s most critical networks with innovation, scalability, reliability, and security.

We are now more dependent than ever on networks running 24/7. From work-at-home broadband needs to 5G, from cloud computing to the “automate everything” drive of Industry 4.0. Digitalization has held the spotlight as a leading initiative across numerous industries for decades. Digital transformation is occurring at an increasingly rapid rate, allowing enterprises and individuals to continuously pursue greater efficiency, productivity, and growth. This has also led to greater demands on internet protocol (IP) and optical networks. For the organizations creating these networks, this is an opportunity to rebuild our digital world to meet the demands of today and tomorrow.

COVID-19 has played an unexpected role in the adoption of digital technologies, acting as a catalyst for digitalization across nearly every sector. Not only has the pandemic pushed adoption several years ahead in the span of several months, but it has also illuminated areas ripe for innovation within existing networks. With an unprecedented number of residential and business users relying on networks for everything from shopping to essential services, the stakes have never been higher. Economies and societies hinge on non-stop, reliable network performance. With lives and livelihoods on the line, IP and optical systems are not allowed to fail or take time off. 

Successfully embracing the post-COVID-19 normal requires building a foundation for the truly modernized network, one that encapsulates 5G, Industry 4.0, and cloud computing without compromise.

As the most trusted systems partner for the world’s most critical networks, Nokia is building IP and optical networks with scalable network performance, secure infrastructure, and efficient and programmable architecture. These IP and optical networks transmit data instantly between buildings, cities, and countries, enabling connectivity with novel capabilities. 

The 4 Endpoints of Nokia's Networks

Robust IP and optical networks are capable of connecting a growing number of endpoints; however, one of the difficulties in creating networks to enable new activities is that the activities themselves need to evolve. 

For traditional networks, this creates a situation in which the very thing a network was built to accommodate quickly outpaces its capacity. In contrast to the days of stable and static IT environments in which applications ran perpetually on dedicated, fixed-location hardware, today’s cloud workloads are increasingly dynamic and nimble. The dynamic nature of our new world must be paralleled by the IP and optical networks that deliver applications and content among residential broadband, 5G innovations, clouds, and Industry 4.0. These networks must be able to scale with continued growth within these endpoints instead of straining under the new level of demand.

Residential Broadband

Normally, internet traffic increases between 30% and 50% each year. In early 2020, it skyrocketed between 45% and 50% in just the first few weeks of COVID-19, and all signs indicate that the new demand will not disappear with the pandemic.

Many people in the workforce have already transitioned to working from home, and as much as 30% is projected to be working from home by the end of 2021. This will result in the continued usage of online collaboration tools and videoconferencing, which require high bandwidth and the lowest possible latency. In addition, families will continue streaming high-definition TV and movies, playing online games like Call of Duty and Fortnite, and making video calls to friends and family. Both unidirectional (streaming) and bidirectional (two-way video calls, games) traffic will continue to increase.

The result is traffic surges that are more unpredictable than ever. While Sunday evenings used to be the busy time for communication service providers, spikes now occur frequently throughout the week. Local caches in content delivery networks (CDNs) are no longer able to keep up with demand, which has driven traffic to remote peering points across the IP and optical network. Traffic moving between CDNs and broadband access networks require broadband network gateways (BNGs), which are currently reaching their data plane capacity limits.

5G Innovations

The coming decade will see a massive expansion of 5G and with it a selection of new services that will have a significant impact on IP and optical networks. Most visibly, mobile phones will experience broadband performance. This will drive several key changes across the ecosystem, the first being an increase in users of the internet of things (IoT). Migration of radio access network (RAN) and mobile core technologies to cloud architectures will also increase, as will the adoption of virtualized, end-to-end “network slices” to divide resources. 

In terms of load, 5G RANs will cause 10 times as much traffic as the combination of 3G and 4G, creating new challenges and opportunities for network providers. To provide optimum performance, the 5G network must be able to incorporate multiple mobile endpoints across many clouds, of which many have stringent service level agreements. To attain the flexibility and nimbleness of these cloud-based mobile endpoints, automation will be a critical component of these 5G networks.


Clouds have all but replaced data centers for many of our critical daily technologies, and cloud computing will continue to accelerate due to both COVID-19 and their increasing ease of use. Cloud computing enables applications to spin up, spin out, and spin down, creating a dynamic environment; this means that the network connecting them must be similarly dynamic. 

Clouds are now the most appealing option for enterprise IT as well as for software-as-a-service (SaaS). SaaS often relies on expansive network platforms to reinvent and streamline conventional industries, and adoption will continue as cloud computing grows. This can be witnessed in the dramatic increase in the usage of Microsoft Teams and other platforms.

As more enterprises shift their workloads to clouds, the networks supporting those clouds will become increasingly responsible for supporting critical applications and the needs of industrial automation. Data-fueled artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) workloads will drive the need for ever more capacity in cloud computing, while Industry 4.0 will require greater ability to aggregate and process data and run machinery.

Industrial Digitalization

The fourth industrial revolution has already begun, with advances in IT and operations technology empowering industries to leverage closed-loop automation and other capabilities. Far beyond industrial robotics, this wide-scale move toward ubiquitous automation is truly enabled by data analysis, digital interfaces, and network technology:

  • Airports: Digital airports will be connected and controlled with a dedicated, reliable, secure network to enhance efficiency and effectiveness on every level.

  • Manufacturing: Factories are becoming intelligent, agile places, thanks to flexible, industrial-grade connectivity. This allows things like rapid reconfiguration, retooling, and product shifts to respond to changing demand.

  • Mining: The digital mine must be more efficient, more productive, and safer than ever before. This will be accomplished with secure, low-latency connectivity. 

  • Ports: Everyone and everything passing through a terminal will be connected over a resilient, secure network that reaches every corner of the terminal.

  • Utilities: Smart grids will be controlled and optimized through dedicated and pervasive converged networks, creating mission-critical connectivity for all grid equipment, applications, and personnel.

IP and optical networks allow industries to further the quality of life and sustainability initiatives, but they will also translate to trillions of dollars in economic revenues. By harnessing real-time data aggregation across all touchpoints in complex workflows, leveraging actionable data analysis through AI/ML, and creating a trustworthy platform for all stakeholders, networks will enable industries to dramatically improve productivity. Networks enable them to monitor, analyze, and optimize systems and supply chains that would otherwise be extremely complex and difficult to understand. With this power, organizations can make the best use of their resources and avoid costly traps like defect-and-remediation cycles.

Industries will need both greater bandwidth and considerably lower latencies than what they currently require. By laying the groundwork for technologies such as edge computing, AI/ML, IoT, augmented reality, robotics, digital twinning, and remote control, Nokia will empower industries to reimagine their existing processes, operate more leanly, and move forward on their initiatives. 

Understanding Critical Networks

With bandwidth demands growing rapidly, converging IP and optical networks to one centralized, controllable system helps to deal with capacity growth. These networks are composed of automated components distributed end-to-end across large spaces, with each component optimized for its particular role and position in the network architecture. Making them even more versatile is their ability to move tasks up and down between IP and optical domains, creating efficient use of resources.

From an end-to-end viewpoint, IP and optical networks can serve a wide range of functions. These include data center switching, gateways, and interconnects; metro, field, regional, and mobile backhaul aggregation networks; packet network services gateways such as BNGs at the network edge; backbone networks; and internet peering, cloud, and wholesale provider interconnection. 

The up-and-down capabilities of IP and optical networks capitalize on the layers inherent within their architecture. This enables IP routing and forwarding, Ethernet and MPLS packet switching, Optical Transport Networking, and Wave Division Multiplexing.

System design is driven by this end-to-end, up-and-down view, resulting in a build that operates as a single system. Nokia’s IP and optical networks are built around three attributes:

  • Scalable, reliable network performance

  • Trustworthy, secure network infrastructure 

  • Programmable network architecture businesses can build on repeatedly

How Does Nokia Roll Out a New IP or Optical Network? 

Delivering optimized IP and optical projects starts with extensive design and architecture analysis. Materials and parts such as line cards, modules, cables, and power supplies are shipped to Nokia’s staging factory and assembled in-house by the engineering team. 

Once assembled, the cold system is shipped to the client’s site and installed by a third party or by the client’s crew. This is done under Nokia’s remote supervision to ensure the correct installation. The client and Nokia then power up the equipment, configure it, and run acceptance tests. Once the tests are completed, the equipment is connected to the client’s live network and commissioned remotely by Nokia personnel. 

This process ensures that the network comprehensively addresses the client’s needs, is delivered promptly, and is set up correctly to provide turnkey performance. 

What Sets Nokia Apart? 

Nokia’s value lies in forward-thinking solutions, customer-tailored network design, and a marriage of hardware and software to simplify and consolidate workflows and processes, no matter how much the user’s needs grow.

Nokia takes a firm stance on hardware, crafting products from merchant silicon and proprietary fourth-generation router silicon (FP4), which serves as the foundation of the new IP routing portfolio. As the world’s first multi-terabyte chipset, this silicon outperforms today’s best network processors for flawless, multiservice performance at high-scale.

Nokia’s optical transport network components leverage inhouse digital signal processors and silicon photonics to operate at capacity-reach combinations close to the Shannon limit. Open-line systems support C+L bands thereby doubling the capacity of fiber. With highly programmable IP and optical silicon, these systems offer industry-leading longevity and functionality upgrades. All pre-integrated, SDN-based automation solutions enable turnkey operation upon power-up. 

Software and automation comprise the core capabilities of networks, and Nokia’s software delivers superior performance and stability. SROS is the single software suite that powers Nokia’s entire IP portfolio, creating consistency across all of their networks. One million routers have been deployed worldwide in critical networks, laying the foundation for innovation in Industry 4.0 and beyond.

Nokia is an industry leader in remote project delivery for the continuous expansion of customers’ IP and optical networks while ensuring the health and safety of everyone. For example, the buildout of new cell sites to enable spatial reuse of the radio spectrum requires new backhaul capabilities. Nokia’s 5G Anyhaul solution encompasses all transport options for connecting cell sites — Fronthaul, Midhaul, and Backhaul — to create a system that runs more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Part of this efficiency translates to an underlying simplicity, which is achieved through sophisticated software that simplifies operation through open interfaces and increasingly automated tools. By taking a holistic approach to systems design, Nokia ensures its networks work end-to-end and do not require someone else to stitch disparate parts together. 

Greater efficiency also means reducing power and physical space per bit of data. According to Steve Vogelsang, CTO for Nokia’s IP/Optical Networks, this “enables economical scaling and network expansion to interconnect more devices across a larger geographic footprint. This is important for the Industrial 4.0 revolution, which will connect billions of devices and machines in the years to come.” This translates to more capacity, more ports, more density, and more performance at lower cost and power per bit.

Networks That Power the World

Nokia is doing more than preparing for a post-COVID digital environment — they are laying the groundwork for a more interconnected, capable, reliable, and secure world. With state-of-the-art IP and optical networks empowering rapid advancement in residential broadband, 5G, clouds, and Industry 4.0, they help innovation flourish with minimal constraints. 

Whether the end-user is videoconferencing from home or in transit, leveraging cloud computing for an enterprise, or operating a digital mine, these IP and optical networks provide an end-to-end, up-and-down environment that can handle the demands of a rapidly digitizing world. With scalable network performance, secure network infrastructure, and the most efficient and programmable network architecture available, Nokia continues to be the most trusted systems partner for our planet’s most critical networks.

Learn how networks are keeping us all going.







6. Steve Vogelsang, CTO for Nokia’s IP/Optical Networks. E-mail interview. 2 September 2020.

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