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All You Need To Know About Network Decommissioning

4 Mins read

The world is becoming bandwidth-hungry at an exponential pace – be it the bandwidth consumption at homes, driven by new entertainment forms, smart home configurations, COVID-19-induced home office setups or in the enterprise space, driven by the proliferation of IOT and surge of Industry 4.0. This is forcing countries across the globe to accelerate the shift towards fiber networks and 5G. Upgrading existing networks and planning the “Networks of the Future” that are flexible, scalable, reliable, and sustainable have become key priorities for Telecom companies across the world.

But what happens to the older equipment, once newer networks start taking over?

As networks have become more complex, planning newer network deployments, decommissioning, and migration have become the need of the hour.

So, what is Network Decommissioning?

Network Decommissioning is the process of shutting down and removal of old and technologically obsolete

networks, including all the network equipment, cables, switches, POTS lines, etc. his is done across both wireline (telephone networks, cable television or Internet access, fiber optic communication, etc.) as well as wireless forms of networks (cell phone networks, wireless local area networks (WLANs), wireless sensor networks, satellite communication networks, etc.).

a.      Decommissioning Wireline Networks


Wireline networks transmit information from source to the destination via filaments. As an alternative, fiber networks are gaining popularity as mediums of transmission. The data delivery is more seamless in the case of fiber networks – both in terms of quantity and the distance of transmission, as compared to older copper networks. Additionally, these copper networks are difficult to maintain, and the continuous support to sustain these aging networks is hard and expensive over time. Thus, the uptake of fiber is leading to copper-switch offs and provides a significant opportunity for decommissioning. This is being adopted by Telecom operators on a global scale.


b.     Decommissioning Wireless Networks

The evolution of wireless networks from 2G, 3G, 4G to 5G makes it all the more essential to replace the voice networks to keep up with the rising bandwidth demand. There are networks that have been in existence for over a decade and are now obsolete as their electronic modes fail to support the scale. Older wireless networks like 2G and 3G are now having to adopt newer nodes belonging to 3G and 4G networks to keep up with the demand for faster networks with lower latency at affordable costs.

Moreover, with sustainability dominating conversations across boardrooms, parliaments, and conferences, it becomes crucial to dismiss legacy equipment and make the switch to newer, greener technology.

How To Plan Network Decommissioning

The process of network decommissioning begins with an in-depth analysis of the existing network. Subsequently, a comprehensive execution plan is developed. But before performing cancellations, pre-decommissioning checks and configurations are carried out. This process includes steps such as:

  •          Identifying the servers for decommissioning

  •          Performing an audit led by the Service Provider to identify the existing set of regulations

  •          Listing all the acquired software licenses

  •          Cancelling any existing maintenance contracts, prior to indulging in decommissioning activities

  •          Backing up all available data

  •          Disconnecting the existing server from the networks

  •          Ensuring software-based data deletions

  •          Creating new data files post the process

  •          Retiring the old servers completely

Once the network has been successfully decommissioned, Telecom operators need to upscale the network design to enhance performance and meet infrastructure needs. This is taken care of in the next step, which is Network Migration.

Network Migration

Network Migration is the process of moving/transferring the data and applications from a legacy network to an upgraded network system.

Network Migration becomes imperative because:

  •           New cabling options need to be looked into for an optimized cable architecture

  •           High speed bandwidth requirements need to be supported through various cable options like fiber optic and twisted copper

  •           Chances of possible connection options for an existing node need to be increased

Why Decommission and Migrate?

The rate of growth of the network traffic has been ranging between 50%-150% across the globe. Thus, to support the massive current and future demand, technical upgrade of the existing networks is not only vital but has become imperative. Clients today, are enthusiastic and eager to complete their Decommissioning and Migration journeys and optimize their current networks.

Also, it is safe to say that the cost incurred by Decommissioning of legacy equipment is not too high when weighed against the profits that will be achieved because of the transition, making it both profitable and sustainable in the long run.

In addition, market research shows that the fiber optic networks occupy 15% of the space captured by their copper counterparts. This results in minimizing the usage of technology access equipment.

Based on conversations with clients on Network Decommissioning, and our analysis, we know that the copper switch-off can save anywhere between 45-65% of the overall energy cost. Some added benefits would be optimal utilization of energy and space.

Telecom operators have played an indispensable role in decommissioning the older networks, both from wired and wireless perspectives, and helping build a green, sustainable, future-proof network. Global support is pouring in for this green network initiative, which ensures optimized balance of hardware, software, and reduced energy usage. The green network standards make it a mandate to reduce carbon footprints and balance the future networks on an even ratio of energy efficiency vs. energy consumption.

It is crucial that organizations constantly remain at the top of their tech game and leverage the latest changes in the industry. To achieve this in the case of Network Decommissioning, telecom operators, equipment manufacturers, and System Integrators (SI) need to collaborate and work towards building and scaling up the network of the future. And this will define the next era of growth for the Telecom industry.

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This blog was originally posted on Zinnov’s website.

Authors: Abhinaba Chatterjee, Senior Manager – Offerings, Cyient; Vijaykumar Hegde, Principal, Zinnov; Manali De Bhaumik, Engagement Manager, Zinnov