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Why you should Understand your Consolidated Network Inventory for Effective WDM Network Planning

17 March 2022
Mike Dorland

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

WDM investments have surged – and considerable future growth is expected. Consequently, operators need to properly understand their WDM assets to meet a number of business needs – operational performance is one, but planning for activating unlit fibres and for building out new links is just as important.

WDM infrastructure offers huge flexibility for critical infrastructure

Multiplexing is a technique almost as old as our industry – dating back to the 19 th Century in telegraphy, and the early 20th Century for telephony 1. Basically, the need to pass growing volume of communication data down the same paths has long been recognised! Of course, multiplexing has become increasingly sophisticated – and it remains key to how we manage capacity and deliver bandwidth to meet (and anticipate demand).

WDM – Wave Division Multiplexing – leverages this technique to combine multiple signals onto a single carrier fibre – providing the capacity to support multiple customers or to service a range of applications. As a result, it’s responsible for vital infrastructure and a fundamental technology, widely adopted in carrier and operator networks.

How do you manage WDM growth effectively?

But while the total capacity (enabled by WDM, among other techniques) available for long- distance transmission – for example, sub-sea cables – has grown by a massive amount, with terabit capacity links now becoming commonplace, few such cables are fully utilised at the outset. That’s because WDM is sufficiently flexible to enable the initial capacity to be a fraction of the maximum, allowing for expected future growth.

Once a link has been activated, traffic inevitably grows – often dramatically, so with increasing volume on a particular link, it’s essential to know which network and customer services are delivered over any individual link – particularly if complex SLAs are in place. The active and inactive elements need to be tracked. That’s where accurate inventory is key, so that all of these data points can be aligned with the right processes, at the right time. Unfortunately, many operators lack this view, depending on isolated and fragmented data sources, which may have to be manually processed in order to secure the information they need.

Matching resources to demand to target investment effectively

On the other hand, VC4-IMS can capture and register a view of each of these WDM network layers and services (and all other network technologies and services), so they can be matched with customer accounts and records – and aligned to specific performance criteria in other platforms. What’s more, the data is updated every day, via automatic discovery and reconciliation procedures. With this view, network planners can understand exactly how growth impacts available resources and determine how best to activate and build out new capacity.

Of course, growth predictions also create business opportunities – because surges in traffic can be signals that a customer needs more capacity, so upselling is an important outcome. This is expedited through VC4-IMS, because consumption can be tracked and forecasts generated, which also allows the sales team to target their efforts more effectively and efficiently – and match them seamlessly with planning activities, in a positive feedback loop.

It’s not just essential for planning – it’s also vital for business growth

In addition, while used capacity is an essential asset and is part of the logical and physical inventory for the carrier concerned, unused capacity is also an asset that needs to be considered. Such untapped resources are key to future monetisation programmes, as they can be allocated to new customers and activated as and when required.

So, the inventory system must span both used and unused assets – across the full end-to-end route taken by a logical service that could be assigned to a customer in the future. This means including, for example, a view of spare WDM capacity in long-distance cables that is available for sale to existing and new customers. Asset management must cover all business scenarios.

The big picture for WDM planning and monetisation

And that’s what VC4 gives you. VC4-IMS tracks all assets – used or otherwise – delivering the consolidated record you need, available to all teams. Thus, the CFO and business teams can also match resources to sell to demand and understand the latent potential of their network in terms of capacity they can monetise – and ensure an accurate balance sheet.

VC4-IMS gives all teams the complete picture they need, enabling planners to track investment needs, business teams to target growth, and accounting teams to really understand network assets. So, if you don’t have the business visibility you need, you should talk to us, so we can show you how you can obtain the most accurate view to manage investments and secure profitable growth.