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Regional Service Providers

Tier 2 and Tier 3 Service Providers / Regional Service Providers

Not all carriers, operators, and service providers are the same. Your company’s size, region, market positioning, culture, team, and history make it unique; but many Tier 2 and Tier 3 technology providers share common challenges of scale and evolution.

The same market forces that are disrupting the business of global tech giants will also transform the way regional service providers do business. Although these companies have fewer resources, they can benefit from higher agility, moving swiftly to seize new opportunities and mitigate threats.

The key to surviving and winning in this market is developing the capability to quickly adapt and flexibly respond to demand and competition shifts. The future is built now. Every investment must prioritize open, programmable, and intelligent infrastructure to extend its longevity, and future-proof it for a wider range of scenarios.

Industry Trends

No. 1

Keeping up with bandwidth demand

Video and cloud applications are driving unprecedented bandwidth demand growth, overstressing service provider networks from access to core. Concurrently, competition keeps knocking the cost per bit down, setting the need for sweeping efficiency gains. Regional service providers need to swiftly increase capacity cost-effectively, while assuring long-term scalability for continued growth.

No. 2

Diversifying revenues

With connectivity prices continually falling and the need for nonstop investments in network capacity and modernization, regional service providers need to develop new revenue streams to sustain their business. Wholesale services (mobile backhaul, regional transport and last-mile) and advanced business managed services are a few of the new revenue streams that providers have been developing and adapting to seize.

No. 3

Going smart, getting efficient

In the era of AI, big data, and analytics, it’s time to stand up to competition with smarter tools and processes. Zero-touch provisioning reduces time and cost to deploy while increasing quality. Programmable infrastructure allows progressive degrees of automation. (Yes, it’s becoming viable even for smaller providers!) Advanced telemetry and analytics combine with AI to pave the path to a self-healing network. Dynamic configuration and network orchestration give the user real-time control (and full visibility) of service features. Smart troubleshooting, simulation, and visibility tools improve diagnostics and planning of IP networks.

Industry insights

5G, massive cloud adoption, cybersecurity, IoT, big data and analytics, edge computing, and the digital experience will radically transform users’ requirements, disrupting the way regional service providers do business.

Some providers are turning to focus mostly on the infrastructure play, deploying high-capacity and low-latency backbone routes in specific regions to boost wholesale opportunities and increase company valuation. Others are targeting services evolution, developing advanced business solutions to increase customer loyalty and generate new revenue streams.

Either way, new technologies are enabling regional providers to leapfrog established competitors through smarter network architectures that allow higher flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

To boost business, regional service providers are investing in these areas:

  • Network core modernization
  • Mobile backhaul (Ethernet solution to integrate cell-sites of mobile network operators)
  • Business services (Ethernet business services, SD-WAN, IP-MPLS, NFV)
  • Metro aggregation
  • Operational efficiency and digital transformation

Ciena insights

Explosive growth in bandwidth demand is requiring urgent investments in capacity expansion. However, long-term investments like network infrastructure are especially risky in today’s rapidly changing environment, as assets may become obsolete before their expected lifecycle ends. This is particularly challenging to smaller providers, who don’t have deep pockets and can’t afford mistakes.

To maximize the longevity of their investments, regional providers need to future-proof their network platforms, ensuring those assets can leverage new services and capabilities that will empower them to succeed on a wide range of competitive scenarios, demands, and requirements.

These are some of the key network platform trends that regional service providers are assessing to evolve their businesses:

  • Openness is crucial. Providers realize that change is the only constant, and want to be free to choose new vendors, work with different platforms, and take advantage of non-proprietary software and tools at any time. The time for vendor lock-in is over.
  • Network layers are collapsing. Optical, Ethernet, and IP are coming together in more efficient and optimized solutions. Coherent optics are coming to packet boxes, which are adding optimized IP features to respond with more efficiency to the most pressing use-cases.
  • Software over a programmable infrastructure is enabling steady progress toward automation. Even small Internet service providers are evolving to increase their operational efficiency and improve customer experience through process and network automation.
  • Analytics, advanced telemetry, and predictive capabilities are coming to improve network visibility, performance, and response—bringing AI to support human management.
  • Cloud architectures are extending to the WAN. Network orchestration and software-defined architectures provide the flexibility to add new services and empower users. Data Center Interconnect (DCI) architectures are making their way as light-footprint and extremely cost-effective alternatives to high-demand transport network segments.

To thrive on digital disruption, regional service providers need to be able to quickly adapt, becoming more flexible, responsive, and efficient. Ciena’s Adaptive Network™ vision helps regional providers to address these demands and trends.

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What’s next

Extreme changes are taking place in the technology market, dragging regional service providers to a complex and uncertain future. While they try to cope with the huge immediate demand for bandwidth growth, they need to find new ways to monetize their assets, gain cost-efficiencies, differentiate from other players, and position to thrive in the future.

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