2011: Top five flicks of networking industry

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: This is an attempt to look into the top five networking trends which failed to click or went slow in 2011, however, are hopeful of making a come back in 2012.


Internet Speed and Broadband

While it is only natural to expect improvement from any sort of service as years progress and technology advancements set in, seems like it is not the case with India's Internet speed.

Also Read: 100GbE interfaces to be mainstream in 2012: Report


At a time when the country is bragging about the third and even the fourth generation telecom technology, a report by Akamai states that the average Internet speed in India was just 0.8mbps in Q3 of 2010.

Not just that, this amounted to a 6.9 per cent quarterly decline and nine per cent yearly decline in the speed.

How many of us are happy to know that India is the only country to see this kind of a fall in Internet speed among the 12 Asian countries that were covered in Akamai's study?


India has a lot to feel great about its telecom industry as is the second largest growing telecom industry in the world with over 500 million active mobile subscribers.

However, when it comes to its broadband user base, it showcases a pathetic figure. Its Internet user base has crossed the 100-million mark, how so ever, the broadband user base is still staggering at a little over 12 million.

Also Read: 3G breaks India's bandwidth bottleneck


The Indian government's ambition to cater to 200 million broadband users by 2015, seems not just a distant dream, but also a farce considering the aforesaid dropping Internet speed and the fact that broadband in India means just 256 kbps and above speed, whereas for the rest (international standard) it is 1 Mbps and above.

A by-product of this low Internet and broadband penetration is that Internet protocol version six is yet to make a major churn in the industry. Despite the government's deadline, it is very unlikely that the whole of Indian online domain service providers will migrate to this version from its predecessor 1Pv4, by March 2012.

The industry is aware of its benefits and the need for this migration, however, has taken a 'wait and watch' stand because of a couple of reasons. The industry wants to see what changes will it bring in and how will it benefit them. .


Moreover, many have just decided to take out some more time off before going in for this costly migration, since not many products and devices are out which support this kind of migration and when still a majority of their traffic comes from IPv4 domains why bother now.


Third and fourth generation telecom technology (3G and 4G)


3G technology was launched after much fanfare in India in late 2010. More than the fanfare it was the exorbitant amount for which the 3G and BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum were auctioned for, a whopping Rs. 102.7 crores.

Though the state-owned telecommunication players BSNL and MTNL were allowed to launch it one year prior to their private counterparts, it did not see much traction, owing to deplorable speed, service and high cost.

This is also the reason why mobile number portability did not gain much traction either.


Going forward, another challenge that might plague this industry is the increasing interest in the fourth generation telecom technology because 3G was more about voice, whereas 4G is for data and for the kind of interest that smartphones are generating in India, it is certain that data will leave voice services far behind. In 4G it will be LTE (the TDD variant) and not WiMAX that will be making a mark in India.

Though not many Indian telcos have started testing 4G, almost every major operator has expressed that 4G is definitely the way forward and for the kind of speed it offers, losers will be those who do not have a 4G agenda in place for next year at least.

100 Gigabit Ethernet

100 GbE is a far off dream for India and is not expected to be around for another couple of years, despite that a few matured industries have started either deploying or testing this technology to suffice the need of bandwidth hungry devices.

Today, India is making a gradual shift towards 10GbE and is also migration from multiple 1GbE links to 10GbE.

Now, with the onslaught of big data and cloud, networking demands are on the rise and more and more Indian companies are ready to experiment with 10 GbE/40GbE for high performance computing and interconnecting multiple data centres in private clouds.

However, as for 100GbE, it is still not on cards for them, especially due to the high cost attached to it and moreover, operators definitely do not see a user case for it at least for the time being.

Small cell base stations

For the kind of data growth that is happening today and is expected tomorrow, maintaining the rising demands of speed and coverage is driving service providers and networking players to take up small cell technology.

While all major networking companies are already building out small cell strategy, it was much glaring when the 'only large cell' and 'one standard at a time' advocate Ericsson came out with its small cell product at The Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, early this year along with Alcatel Lucent.

Though this trend is fast catching up, it is still a minuscule when compared to macro cell base station and needs some more time for a widespread traction.


While interference management and support for heterogeneous networks were touted to be the major hindrance in deploying such base stations, operators are seeing its worth in metros and large enterprises.

With such micro base station expected to double in 2012 (according to research firm Infonetics Research), it will be only matter of years when it will stand tall over its macro counterpart, especially once the Long Term Evolution technology is in place.

The fall of Cisco

Now, when we are talking about networking industry and do not touch upon Cisco, it will not be much worth.

This once invincible telecom networking equipment maker saw a major downfall towards the end of the decade, especially in 2010, and in 2011.

The high expectations that Flip vedeo camera product line, which came to Cisco when it acquired Pure Digital in 2009, brought in did not last long, despite the product doing well in its segment in the market, and in early 2011, in April, Cisco pulled it out of its kitty.

The onslaught of smartphones and the likes of Apple products sounded the death knell for Flip, and also to the 500 employees who were laid off and Cisco's chief executive, John Chambers, agreed that the company had "lost its way".

The company which had over 73,000 employees during the beginning of the decade went through another layoff phase in July when it chucked out 15 per cent of its staff and also sold away its set-top-box plant in Juarez, Mexico, thus showing another 5,000 employees the way out.

In all, Cisco sent over 13,000 employees packing home in 2011 alone unable to cope-up with competitor pressure from old as well as new networking players and falling marketshare.

Cisco has already started working on its transition plan and wants to refocus on its core areas. The company still holds an impressive marketshare in the networking industry, however, the road ahead will not be easy either.