Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs launched a book called “The Future X Network” which says the world is on the brink of a new technological revolution – the so-called automation age – for which a new network will be required.

This forward-looking network is known as ‘X’ because it will need to be tenfold better than today’s infrastructure,  as well as “ten dimensional” and is, possibly, ten years away.

The automation revolution is about digital interfaces and data analysis, and follows the information revolution, which was based around the web, cloud and mobile.

It is the “interconnectedness and interdependence of participating systems and technologies” in which the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G will play a big part, and which will bring about the capacity to transform the economy and eventually society, explained the president of Bell Labs and Alcatel-Lucent’s CTO, Marcus Weldon, who edited the book.

The reason “networks matter more than ever before,” as Weldon put it, is because most cell-based networks at the moment can only handle around 1,000 users per cell site, but with the advent of the IoT there will be 100,000 machines connected near every cell site.

He said giants like Facebook and Google are “global service providers” with billions of users and will need to come together with operators, the “local service providers”, to help deliver services.

This set-up is similiar to the way multinationals like McDonald’s and Coca Cola currently have a local presence in every country, which might be an uncomfortable message for operators to hear.

The revolution will be led by the enterprise sector, which will be looking to digitise itself. On the user end, there may not be big changes, although with factors like live streaming a lot more content will be user generated.

Creating time
Weldon also spoke about an ability to ‘create time’ by automating business and consumer lives using ‘augmented intelligence’ enabled by a new cloud integrated network. Creating time effectively means saving time, which companies like Google and Uber do for customers.

Low latency will be the driver of the new network as it is essential for services like virtual reality gaming and cloud assisted car driving.

Weldon believes the future is “the digitisation of everything to achieve perfect knowledge, to deliver contextualised content and enable ‘life automation'”.

However, he emphasised that the book is by definition speculative, since it deals with the future, and is mainly aimed at sparking a discussion.