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5G

Why 5G needs better fixed broadband

Even as telecom operators throughout the world are rolling out next-gen 5G mobile broadband (MBB) technology, enhanced fixed broadband (FBB) technology is emerging as the critical ingredient for delivering faster speeds.

In addition, enhanced FBB technology is key to providing advanced video, fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and other next-gen services to consumers and businesses alike.

For example, in countries such as China, Japan, Singapore and Spain, where fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks have been widely deployed, service providers are now using EPON or GPON technologies to offer symmetrical 1-gigabit speeds and enhanced FMC services to customers. Several providers are already planning how to boost their offerings further by making the next leap to 10Gbit/s speeds through the deployment of 10G PON over all-fiber lines.

At the same time, in some European countries where telecom operators have abundant copper resources in place and the costs of building new FTTH networks are prohibitive, a few pioneering service providers are even leveraging legacy copper cables to deliver gigabit speeds and related services to subscribers. To cite one prime example, Germany's NetCologne has teamed up with ZTE to roll out nearly 2Gbit/s speeds by deploying a [email protected] MHz network over copper lines.

With moves such as these, telecom providers are paving the way for the global deployment of 5G services. That's because enhanced FBB may deliver the bandwidth capacity, stability, reliability, security and quality-of-service that 5G transmissions require. In addition, FBB offers several crucial advantages over the construction of numerous mobile basestations, such as lower network construction costs, higher network usage, lower operating costs and greater deployment flexibility.

While enhanced copper cables may work in some cases, service providers are particularly laying down more fiber in their drive to support 5G, FMC and other advanced services with fixed broadband. As a result, shipments of such critical fiber-related equipment as XGS-PON ports and overall PON OLT ports have surged over the past few quarters, according to various market analyst reports.

As telecom operators install more fiber in their networks to support 5G, offer FMC plus other advanced services and look ahead to 50G PON and beyond, they must ensure that they can upgrade their FBB networks easily, effectively and efficiently. The last thing they want is to rip and replace their legacy fiber networks, as some have already had to do with their aging copper networks.

Therefore, it's incumbent upon service providers to choose network equipment that can evolve to meet their future bandwidth needs. That means they should select platforms that can support multiple technology generations, not just GPON or 10G PON, for example. It also means that they should pick platforms that allow them to reuse and renew their existing network resources to reduce upgrade costs. For example, they can pick platforms that enable them to reuse existing OLT chassis/racks, ODFs, fibers, ducts and roadside cabinets of FTTx to spur 5G access. This not only ensures rapid construction of 5G, but also increases the efficiency of FTTx.

In other words, the broadband network of the future must be continuously upgradable to accommodate ever-faster speeds and ever-greater bandwidth capacity. Smooth, seamless network evolution will be the crucial factor for providers to stand out from their competitors.

This blog is sponsored by ZTE.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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