Network Modernization: The Road to Innovation

Whether in the form of smartphones, connected watches or health wristbands, digital technology is creeping into many aspects of everyday life and leading to greater connectivity needs. To support this trend, Orange is working to modernize its networks, both fixed and mobile, and is devising innovative solutions aimed at supporting future technologies.

Connectivity: The Big Bang!

The internet is now ever-present in all of our daily lives. Whether for personal or professional use, it has become an absolute essential, to the point that digital detox cures are emerging. Users expect speeds to be increased and coverage areas to be expanded in order to meet their connectivity needs.
With connectivity at the heart of individual usage, it also supports major changes such as the advent of smart cities, the rise of remote working, or the development of Big Data, in other words using a huge amount of data produced every day to – for example – optimize the distribution of public services such as transport or energy. The sheer number of such trends means bandwidth requirements are soaring: between 2015 and 2018, it is estimated that global internet traffic will increase from 0.9 to 1.6 zettabytes(1).
The proliferation of connected objects is another source of inflation for internet traffic: in 2020, there will be an estimated 25 billion connected objects in circulation(2), as well as around 420 million connected vehicles(3).

Networks of the future: better, faster, stronger!

Networks need to pick up speed to meet these new needs. Orange therefore invested €3.2 billion in modernizing its networks during the first semester of 2016. To optimize the experience offered to its customers, the Group has set two priorities:

  • develop and deploy more efficient technologies;
  • automate and simplify the deployment and management of networks.

As regards mobile networks, Orange teams are currently continuing to develop the 4G network, which now boasts coverage of over 85% of the French population. The aim is to increase this figure to 98%(4) by 2018 in order to give users easy access to all services, whatever their location.

The great revolution will come with 5G networks – around 2020 – which promises speeds 10 to 100 times faster than 4G currently offers, as well as lower energy consumption. This technology will lead in particular to further development in virtual reality, connected objects and Industry 4.0.

At the same time, Orange is committed to modernizing its fixed networks. Very high speed connectivity based on the use of fiber will allow for significant performance gains: this network is expected to be up to 30 times faster than ADSL. It offers more fluid navigation in all circumstances and better quality of service over time for video services.
For businesses, Orange is developing solutions based on the total virtualization of networks, also known as SDN/NFV (Software Defined Network / Network Function Virtualization). Their aim is to virtualize network infrastructures in order to:

  • meet bandwidth requirements more quickly;    
  • allow users remote control of network infrastructures at will.   

The Internet of Things develops its network

The tidal wave of development in the Internet of Things is gaining real momentum and networks have to prepare for it. For Orange, one of the solutions will come in the shape of LoRa, or Long Range, a low speed technology that provides connectivity with minimal energy consumption and at low cost. By the end of January 2017, Orange is aiming to cover 120 areas (around 2,600 towns and cities) with LoRa.
Orange already supports its business customers in implementing projects based on objects or sensors that require minimal energy consumption.

Discovering LoRa network
Discovering LoRa network

(1)    Source: “Flexible connectivity thanks to a hybrid network”, Orange Business Services, March 2015.
(2)    Source: Gartner, January 2015.
(3)    Source: “Connected cars”, IDATE, January 2016.
(4)    Source: http://reseaux.orange.fr/decouvrir-le-reseau/partout/4G-et-4G-plus-votre-mobile-passe-au-tres-haut-debit