Bandwidth Flexibility Imperative for Service Providers

By Bill Yates, Communications Correspondent  |  March 06, 2023

ITEXPO 2023 kicked off the second day with a discussion on the importance of bandwidth in distributed computing world.

With “Future of Communications: Meeting Bandwidth (News - Alert) and Agility Demands,” four professionals impressed upon attendees the need for multiple bandwidth providers in these day of network necessity.

Moderator Ken Briodagh, executive editor of The Frontier Hub, prodded the panelists with questions. The Frontier Hub is a joint venture that features timely information on technological advances like the IoT.

“People will find a way to use all the bandwidth you give them,” said panelist Mark Palmer, vice president of managed services at telecom provider Granite Telecommunications (News - Alert). He said it’s important to provide priority access to bandwidth for your most important business operations.

“Maintaining flexibility with your bandwidth is imperative,” agreed panelist Jason Penell, senior solutions architect at telecomm provider Advantage Communications Group. “Some people will sit there streaming stuff all day if you let them."

Pennell said it's important to continually monitor the speed at which your network is working. Achievable speed may be less than possible, in which case you need more bandwidth to maintain performance, he said. "Maintaining flexibility with your bandwidth is important," he said.

Managing the consumption of the data is every bit as important as managing its transmission. "I want to know what customers are doing with the data," said Corey Dixon, senior lead consultant for platform adoption at Lumen. "Where does that data live?"

"Actually, the quality of service matters," said panelist Widson Petit-Frere, vice president of pre-sales engineering at PCCW (News - Alert) Global. "Bandwidth really is not unlimited."

The trend now is for networking companies to swap capacity during outages, Petit-Frere said. "We're all in the same boat," he said, "so it actually drives competition."

If networking platforms are looking for backups, so should you, Dixon said. Contracting for the services of multiple bandwidth providers allows for redundancy and agility. "What is your cost if your assembly line goes down due to connectivity issues?" he asked.

The agility comes from being able to access additional servers quickly, he said. "A lot of it is resiliency, being able to provide that uptime," he said.

Palmer agreed that competition is driving costs down, as well as driving companies to set up symmetric networks. "There is a boom in competition," he said," and it's driving the development of better access and better products for customers."

Petit-Frere said companies are offering contacts of less than 12 months duration. Networking companies have become flexible enough to support intermittent usage, he said. "Today it's much more difficult to forecast your needs," he said.

How do you plan for the future in such a volatile environment? Briodagh asked.

 Palmer says companies should rely upon a five-year plan, because that's generally how long the hardware lasts before it needs upgrading. Buy more hardware than you need today, he advises. It's difficult and expensive to upgrade your hardware prior to the end of its functional life. "It's understanding what your needs may be," he said. "It's the hardware that's usually the issue."

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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