N is for networks

This post is part of a continuing series, “Digital: from A to Z,” that explores what it means to be “digital” from A to Z, broken down into individual blog posts diving deeper into various subjects. Check back regularly to see continuing posts as I work my way through the alphabet and let me know: What’s in your A to Z of digital? You can find me on twitter @Max_Hemingway or leave a comment below.

Networking in general is well known and understood, as it’s an integral part of the world’s infrastructure today. In this post I will cover two areas at a high level where there are significant developments going on: neural networks and 5G.

Neural networks

A neural network is a network that is modeled on a biological brain and nervous systems pathways (synapses) that allows computations to take place at speed and across many nodes. Neural networks have been used across a vast number of tasks but are probably best recognised today as the underlying network of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning.

You are using neural networks in your everyday lives, without knowing it, with things like the voice-activated assistants Alexa, Siri, Google Home and Cortana, which deploy neural networks at the back end to provide the basis of the AI and machine learning algorithms that take your voice commands and transact the outcomes based on the instruction. These networks are constantly being developed and improved to provide the services of today and tomorrow.  There are lots of other services that we use daily that have neural networks behind them.

Businesses are looking at neural networks as part of their move to AI and machine learning, especially as neural networks are becoming easier to use, with availability via online services for developers, scientists, companies or even a home user to start to consume.

A great site for playing with a neural network and seeing what these networks can achieve is Tensorflow (Google): http://playground.tensorflow.org/ Here you can operate a neural network in your browser and increase and decrease the input and hidden layers to change the output. Here’s a sample screen shot:


        Further Reading


One of the latest developments in networking and mobile communications is 5G (the fifth generation of wireless systems). A set of criteria that 5G should fulfill has been set out by the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance:

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G

There are currently field trials of test networks across the world operated by some of the telecom providers using the 28 GHz spectrum band, and development into using drones across the 5G networks.

5G will provide not only improved bandwidth to mobile devices but also next-generation communications infrastructure to things like autonomous cars requiring low latency (around 20 Gbps download, 10 Gbps upload and 1 ms latency), and the IoT (Internet of Things), allowing greater performance for large-scale deployments.

The timescales for 5G are expected around 2020 for a release of the networks, following development and testing until then.

        Further Reading

Join me next time as I look at “O is for organisation” in my Digital A-Z series.  See my last post, M is for Machine Learning.

This entry was originally posted in Max’s blog.

Max Hemingway — Senior Architect

Max is a senior architect for DXC in the United Kingdom. With more than 25 years of experience, he has a broad and deep range of technical knowledge and is able to translate business needs into IT-based solutions. Currently the chief architect of the BAE Systems account in the UK, Max has a proven track record acquired through continual client engagement and delivery of leading edge infrastructures, all of which have delivered positive results for end-clients, including IT cost reduction, expansion of service capability and increased revenues.


  1. […] Join me next time as I look at “P is for programming” in my Digital A-Z series.  See my last post, N is for networks. […]

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