Phones lines to homes and offices will one day be defunct and we will all one day connect to telecoms networks wirelessly, according to Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and CTO of Alcatel-Lucent.
He also believes networks will be rebuilding themselves like connections in the human brain to meet the enormous demand for data communications.
Weldon, who presides over research at Bell Labs, which looks at technology that will have an impact in five years, believes that the last few metres of communications networks will eventually be wireless – to fixed locations as well as to mobiles.
“The default way of connecting will be wireless in the last 10 to 100 metres,” said Weldon.
Behind the wireless networks will be optical and wireline networks with enormous data capacity.
But Weldon believes the data centre and intelligence in this network will move closer to the edge of the network, and will be closer to the user to be more responsive.
“The network will be not be a single ‘cloud’ but will be built from ‘edge clouds’ connected by small wireline networks of very large capacity – these will be copper cabling or optical fibre,” said Weldon.
Building these networks will be challenging for the industry, but Weldon believes the biggest challenge the communication industry faces in the next five years is in the wireless access network.
“The biggest technical problem is in the wireless domain,”he said.
The inherently “unguided” nature of wireless communications makes it susceptible to interference and reflections.
“As a result, to get the capacity we will need will be a big challenge,” said Weldon.
The answer, he said, is to make the networks more agile and responsive to change.
“The IoT will soon be upon us and this will need a ‘living network’,” said Weldon.
“This will involve analysing how people move and this data will be used to optimise the network. The network will constantly be reconfiguring like the synapses in the human brain,” he said. And he expects to see this happening by 2020.