Telecom is becoming all Software...


The epic revolution of technology and computing have driven and taken to a point where almost every thing or entity around us can be defined and organized in an orchestrated environment of software artifacts and objects capable of being controlled and managed in any fashion. Technical advancements and developments in the fields of Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology have created a synergistical transformation leading to a paradigm where lines between various domains and areas are now blurred, with their functions and processes are all coalescing. Telecommunications are a specific case and example of this, where we are seeing all previous physical systems being practically reduced to software. The telecom domain for quite a while has been mostly represented and materialized by specialized equipment and devices constituting a significant and substantial body of infrastructure which much required physical deployments on premises. When thinking about systems going from the traditional PSTN to today's mobile cellular networks, we can see how many physical equipment and devices come into the pictures. Even though we could quite arguably admit that all these systems do host a humongous base of software, what we are seeing today is a critical transformation where significant parts of these systems are being functionally converted to pure software components, thus the hardware part considerably shrinking or even disappearing. Moreover, speaking from a more organic perspective, the booming of data services have led to a radical augmentation in the software-oriented services and processes to accommodate all kinds of user-based transactions and interactions.

Our voice and data exchanges, today are handled and processed by several software systems at different levels from end to end. Compared to previous cases, radio processing components such as BTSs and BSCs are being reduced to very minimal systems in size with software making up for almost all of the functionalities. Software-defined or cognitive radio technology is one that today helps perform a major part of the radio processing with software-implemented engines which previously were physically represented. This critically shrinks and reduced to software all the radio processing infrastructure. For example, engineers and researchers at Alcatel-Lucent have come up with a new invention called "LightRadio" which is a small cubic component that can pretty much replace a traditional base station or radio tower by performed all the relevant assumed tasks and functions through developed embedded appropriate algorithms. We can also notice how the new LTE technology has a reduced number of nodes compared to its preceding technologies (GSM, UMTS), but with rather much evolved sophistication and functionality where the complexity has all been handled and contained in software.
Taking it a step further, we get to the core and management sides of the telecommunication ecosystem where software-orientation is pretty much pervasive. Within this context, systems relevant to INs, Signaling, OSS/BSS, Security are relied upon for integral call processing. We therefore usually have a variety a of nodes and modules dedicated to each and every one of those functions. Today, we have a multiplication of tasks and functions in this scope given the variety of services and consumer usages. Processes and services have become more software-intensive. The advent of technologies such as Cloud Computing and Software-Defined Networks (SDN) have bolstered the data and control planes, making everything become co-localized with only software-implemented separation and demarcation points. The Internet has made its way into the Telecom realm in a very swift and uncontended way creating new contexts and paradigms, but also challenges that are only dealt with, through software. When we think about the Mobile Internet, we can perceive things as IMS applications, Mobile Middleware and a myriad of programs working all together to support communications. When I take a back and observe all this obvious and radical change, I can't help thinking "Telecom is becoming all software!...". And as a matter of fact, all is becoming all software, because if Artificial Intelligence's aim is to create and represent a totally virtual world around us, then Telecom becoming software is then only a step in this gradual process of making the world a software-made one or in other words, "all things made digital..."

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