By 2030 we will see the emergence of new network architectures and protocols integrating flexible and cognitive network management, and supporting Internet mobility and scalability at all levels.
The following major developments are expected:
Demand for greater integration and convergence: the need for a common/shared infrastructure enabling any-to-any communication independently of the physical access technologies, capacity/resource usage, host/device density, and legacy constraints. Wireless and wired infrastructures will be fully integrated to ensure the required bandwidth is always available, everywhere, at the right cost.
Mobile communication and networks towards 5G: mobile communications networks will constantly increase their performance pushed by more demanding applications and services. A new generation of wireless technologies will ensure download and upload rates around 1 Gbps to all terminals. Higher bitrates will be ensured by combining multiple concepts and technologies such as concurrent data transfer, group cooperative relay, cognitive radio technologies, wireless mesh network (WMN) or wireless grids, combined with smart antennas, cooperative diversity and flexible modulation, etc.
Optical Networks: optical network technologies will further develop as mainstream fibre-optic systems will reach their limit. Flexible optical spectrum approaches, programmable transceivers and switching nodes, and the use of multiple wavelength bands will enable to achieve new performance targets. With increasing wireless capacities and smaller cell sites, a close wireless-optical integration will allow to dynamically optimize end-user experience over a fibre-constrained backhaul-infrastructure. Future networks will support multi-Gbps access rate, optical network and IT convergence, optical network control plane, cognitive, self-managed and energy efficient optical networks.
Satellite Networks: Future satellite technologies will be characterized by reconfigurable, resilient and secured broadband connectivity, enhanced broadcast systems, integration/hybridising of future SatComs in the Future Internet, Capacity Distribution Scenarios, In-orbit validation of space segment products and technologies, on-board regenerative processor, new Adaptative Coding and Modulation (ACM), Interference Mitigation techniques and technologies enabling in-flight connectivity for passengers in commercial aircraft.
Continuous exponential growth of traffic and technologies: all network technologies will ensure a thousand-fold increase in network capacity. This will lead to changes in network usage, traffic types, traffic rates and flow size distribution. Non-human generated traffic (for instance from M2M capillary networks) will increase and coexist for network usage. In Wireless networks this will require the exploitation of new frequency bands and complete revise of frequency allocations and licensing, spectral efficient techniques such as addressing spectrum management with cognitive radio agile radio. This will lead to higher spectrum utilization (e.g. bandwidth efficient modulation, out-of-band suppression like FBMC, higher frequency bands, dynamic spectrum access), better spatial utilization (smart antennas, interference control, topology optimization such as heterogeneous networks), and improved overhead ratio (efficient MAC and signalling protocols).
Standardized and interoperable architectures: as more and more devices will be connected to the Internet it will become essential that they can interoperate not only on the network but also on the service and control layer. Open and standardized interfaces will help but an overall architectural framework will be required. These kinds of architectures for distributed systems will be the key to enable future-generation services and open up the market for new players. Continuous evolution of mobile terminals and tablets, due to progress of OS, mobile processors and embedded sensors will add further requirements and models for mobile networks.
Software Defined Networking (SDN): SDN will transform the way networks can operate, but also the way services and network applications will be designed and deployed in the future. From a decentralized Internet, where relatively low capacity nodes take decisions in a cooperative way and where best effort is still the common rule, we will move to new scenarios where a centralized control and operation system will support decision and where nodes will become fully programmable. In this vision, Software Development Kits will be made available for producing and deploying services and ad-hoc features needed to run the network and provide new network-based services. This kind of architecture will be the key to enable future-generation services and open up the market for new players in the fields of hardware, software development and network based added value applications.
IoT and M2M: The use of networks to connect machines will call for Internet architectures that are resilient and trustworthy and designed to support open access, increasing heterogeneity of end-points (multimode devices, people, things) and networks (self-adaptive, self-healing networks, opportunistic networks, networks of networks). Networks will sustain a large number of devices (trillions), handle the large irregular information flows, and be compatible with ultra-high capacity end-to-end connectivity. Most of the future internet traffic will be generated by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications.