Why Telecom Companies Should Leverage Carrier-Grade Networks

Telecom carriers require reliable networks to provide telecommunications services to their customers. Without the proper capacity or availability to carry the necessary traffic, telecoms will have trouble attracting new business and remaining competitive. A carrier-grade network can help carriers overcome those challenges by providing carriers with a highly tested and dependable network that is scalable to meet future demand.

What is a Carrier-Grade Network?

When discussing the quality of a network there are three commonly used designations: 

  • Consumer grade- networks that work but aren’t optimized for operating under extreme weather conditions or human interference
  • Enterprise grade- networks that are designed for flexibility, reliability, and customization
  • Carrier grade- networks specifically designed to support mission-critical applications for telecom carriers

“Carrier grade” refers to networks for carriers that meet high expectations for network availability, security, quality, performance, and scalability.1Any network can be considered carrier grade, no matter what setup an organization leverages.

While there is no firm standard for the network label, there is a general consensus between network providers on what is expected of a carrier-grade network. Customers purchasing carrier-grade networks expect them to be optimized for performance, reduced maintenance tasks, and redundancy to enable maximum network reliability and minimal downtime.

Some key features of carrier-grade networks include above standard build parts, digital diagnostic monitoring (DDM) and digital optical monitoring (DOM) technology capabilities, and support extended temperature range environments.


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What Benefits Do Carrier-Grade Networks Offer Carriers?

Carrier-grade networks allow carriers to improve the quality and reliability of their services for their customers. Key benefits include:

High availability

Network providers may frequently tout the phrase “high availability” when referring to reliable networks, but this is not synonymous with carrier grade. High availability systems refer to networks that are equipped to handle drops in performance or unexpected failures. While all carrier-grade networks have high availability, not all “high availability” networks meet the stringent requirements to be deemed carrier grade, and it’s imperative to know the difference. 

Carrier-grade networks must meet or exceed the “five nines” of availability and reliability, that is, ensuring 99.999% uptime. These setups are well tested, optimized for redundancy, and allow for a maximum unscheduled downtime of five minutes or less per year. Several types of networks can be considered “carrier grade” including public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), VoIP, and Ethernet2.

Efficient carrier-grade network management eliminates unscheduled and planned maintenance downtimes. In order to ensure uptime for these occasions, the network is designed to support hitless software upgrades and patches3. This setup can save carriers thousands of dollars annually as the average downtime can cost organizations $5,600 per minute according to Gartner4.

High Security

Carrier-grade networks must meet more strict security requirements than typical enterprise networks. The setup encrypts user data passing through the network and is designed to protect against malicious attacks, whether that’s from viruses, ID theft, or denial of service (DoS) attacks.

High Performance

Carrier-grade networks using the right hardware equipment and software will increase communications performance and the ability to serve a larger customer base. A telecom infrastructure using state of the art processors and other technologies will be optimized to meet high performance requirements compared to consumer-grade systems. 

High Quality Of Service

Telecom carriers require networks that support their customers’ needs for voice and video communications. Carrier-grade networks are designed to minimize or eliminate lag and increase redundancy to promote high-quality transmissions. Quality of service ensures that essential communications, such as VoIP, receive priority over non-Real Time Traffic (RTT) services. 

High Scalability

Finally, carrier-grade networks are highly scalable, which allows carriers to increase capacity to meet new demands and plan for future growth. This feature enables carriers to upgrade or expand their cellular infrastructure to add additional coverage or to better serve a large number of customers. 

How To Leverage A Carrier-Grade Network

SCE Carrier Solutions provides our telecom customers with carrier-grade network solutions that ensure customers receive 99.999% uptime, that is, limiting downtime to five minutes per year. By leveraging our expertise, we can answer any questions related to installing or operating carrier-grade networks, as well as troubleshoot if issues arise. 

Interested in learning more about how your organization can leverage a carrier-grade network? Contact us today and one of our network experts will be happy to answer any questions.

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[1] https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/contributed/dont-confuse-high-availability-carrier-grade/2014/04/
[2] https://getvoip.com/library/what-is-carrier-grade/
[3] https://www.electronicdesign.com/technologies/communications/article/21800559/carriergrade-reliabilitya-musthave-for-nfv-success
[4] https://blogs.gartner.com/andrew-lerner/2014/07/16/the-cost-of-downtime/

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