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Georg von Wagner

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What the technology in the most modern central office looks like

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There is a lot of discussion going on about the auction of the 5G frequencies in the spring of 2019. But how are the technical preparations going? Here are some insights into today’s most modern central office.

Cable in the central office in Frankfurt.

Cable in the central office in Frankfurt.

What is Deutsche Telekom already doing to ensure that the new mobile communications standard can be launched as successfully and smoothly as possible? The answer is: quite a lot! Behind the scenes, the technicians in the central offices are already working on the infrastructure for tomorrow's network.

Telekom customers are not yet aware of this - but this will soon change. A pioneer in this area is one of the most modern Telekom central offices, located in Frankfurt-Ginnheim. In a joint pilot project with US fiber optic manufacturer Corning, 5G technology is already being used there. Here’s what you need to know.
Even more data

Even more data

Experts expect the amount of data on the internet to increase enormously in the coming years. In 2025, 163 Zettabytes (that’s 163 with 21 zeros behind it) of data are expected to flow through networks worldwide - ten times more than in 2016. The annual increase, including the introduction of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), will be around 30 percent by 2025. This nearly unimaginable about of data would soon completely overburden existing infrastructure.

Hans-Peter Frost (left) and Georg von Wagner (right)

Hans-Peter Frost (left), product design mobile site Deutsche Telekom, talks to Georg von Wagner (right), press spokesman Deutsche Telekom.

That's why, as Telekom product designer Hans-Peter Frost explains, "We need greater flexibility in the data centers for this transition.” One of the innovative technologies that will soon be used for that purpose are the future-proof multi-fiber systems from Corning, which are designed to accommodate speeds of up to 400 Gigabits per second. By way of comparison, Telekom customers can already surf on pure fiber optic connections at up to one Gigabit per second - and that feels like a breath of fresh air.

The Need for Speed

Extremely fast mobile radio connections that can transfer the data volume of a DVD (about 4.7 Gigabytes) within four seconds - that's one side of 5G. Just as important are minimum latency times (delays), which enable communication practically in real time. Marko Ludwig, Key Account Director at Corning, cites autonomous driving in winter weather as a concrete example of this, explaining, "Individual stretches of the road are covered with ice, and we have a car that can register the situation." This car then transmits that information via its mobile antenna to a data center, which distributes the black ice warning – or information about an accident or road damage, for example – to the cars behind it, which can then immediately reduce their speed. 

This process can’t take two, three or four seconds. By that time, the cars will have already slid into the guardrail. "Our fiber optic products are there to ensure that this communication can happen in real time," explains Marko Ludwig from Corning, one of the world's leading fiber optic manufacturers, based in the USA.

Marko Ludwig (right) and Georg von Wagner.

Marko Ludwig (right), Key Account Director at Corning, explains Georg von Wagner (left) the new multi-distributors.

Even more speed

5G isn’t the only technology that will cause a drastic increase in data volume in the coming years; the Internet of Things, which will connect billions of devices in the future, will also add to this increase. These IoT devices include robots, smart lighting, intelligent thermostats for heating control, health sensors, cardiac pacemakers and much more.

Experts assume that in the future there will not only be seven billion smartphones networked worldwide, but there will be up to 500 billion devices with an online connection - an average of around 65 devices for every person living on earth. And telemedicine, air taxis and new industrial applications - they all depend on the new, fast and practically delay-free networks.

The new Telekom technology

The interior of the modern central office in Frankfurt.

The interior of the modern central office in Frankfurt.

Telekom's central offices are already using the new infrastructure, which is already ready for 5G and flood of data the future holds. One of the vital components of this is the multi-fiber system developed jointly by Deutsche Telekom and Corning.

Whereas previously only one service per cable could be transmitted in Telekom's data centers, there are now four services per cable. Telekom product designer Hans-Peter Frost explains the advantages, "So far we have been able to equip a single cabinet with 730 services, and in the future, we’ll do so with over 3,000.” In the end, this means drastically more transmission capacities in the same area. Now, we’re only awaiting the official go-ahead for 5G, according to Product Manager Frost, “On the technical side, we are eagerly waiting to get started.”

Flexible and future-ready    

Corning's new systems don’t require any tools to operate, saving up to 90 percent in installation time. And even further down the road, extensions and updates are drastically faster. This makes the hardware much more flexible than before and ready for the future. Marko Ludwig, Key Account Director at Corning, knows why this is so important, "We don't need the 400 Gigabit per second speeds today. We also know that 5G still needs time – and the Internet of Things still needs time. But eventually, 400 Gigabit will definitely become the standard. And our products can do that without the need for upgrades later."

The new systems also enable edge computing - the technology Telekom uses to outsource part of the computing capacity from its data centers directly to the customer or to new data centers closer to the customer, which are currently being set up. But this is already the making of another new story …

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