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FTTx: The Future of Gigabit Connectivity

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Increased broadband needs in the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. What is FTTx?
  3. Various aspects of OFC implementation techniques and designs

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is pFTTx?
  2. What is SDN?

How the Pandemic has Seen Increasing Internet Needs?

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted our daily lives and new norms established – face to face meeting with virtual conferences, offices with work-from-home, schools with online learning and classes. This necessity to stay connected has led to the rise in the number of broadband connections, which has soared 30-40% as compared to earlier year. There is overwhelming evidence that this trend is here to stay owing to surging video consumption (Amazon, Netflix), Work-from-home policies, and online learning and classes.

How Significant is FTTx for Seamless Connectivity?

Fiber To The X or FTTx is one of the most effective means to deliver this seamless connectivity. As the name suggests FTTx uses fiber optic along with integrated communication technologies to enable faster and more effective communication. Since the mainstreaming of FTTx technology was about a decade or so back communication infrastructure which used copper wires has significantly reduced.

But higher costs and longer implementation times have stood in the way of universal adoption of FTTx. The current pandemic perhaps has proved to be a turning point in changing it. But the challenges of higher costs and longer implementation times still have to be addressed.

Our experience indicates that using digital technologies like automation, GPS tech etc. can ensure better coordination and resources utilization during implementation. Along with this building virtual network, abstraction of hardware from the software layer, NFV etc. enable launching services on the fly can help increase monetization opportunities significantly.

Implementing and Operating FTTx Networks

The two specific aspects of implementing and operating FTTx networks, is what we will address in our upcoming FTTx webinar series through;

STL’s speakers will deep-dive into the possibilities of maximizing efficiencies and getting better ROI. The benefits of faster FTTx implementation such as reduced time to market, cost optimization as well as faster network monetization.

Optical fibre deployments are highly capital intensive, thus requiring strategic advance planning to reduce the operational cost and optimise initial capital. These projects can be long drawn and labour intensive as well. In part 1 of the webinar series we will discuss various aspects of OFC implementation techniques and designs. Please register here to know more:

  • Digitalized and automated implementation process to maximise return on investments
  • Increase implementation scale through innovative survey design and monitoring solutions
  • Building efficiency and automation through digital integration
  • Integrated network management platforms to enable discovery, action & monetisation

In part 2, we will focus on how service providers can build a flexible network with an open standardized interface and disaggregated architecture. Further, we will deep dive into the following. Please register here to know more

  • Need for broadband access transformation
  • The shift towards open and disaggregated architecture
  • Transformation from traditional FTTx to cloud-native, software-defined FTTx
  • Possible deployment and integration architectures

The webinar we intend to explore and elaborate how the focus of FTTx implementations should be more holistic, focused on total return on investments, customer experience and flexibility of network to respond to market needs as opposed to localized efforts at improving efficiencies. We sincerely hope to make it a highly educating and enlightening one for our audience!

Please Join us on 17th September at 7:30 IST to know more about FTTx: Digital & Automated implementation and on 30th September at 7:30 IST on Open and Disaggregated FTTx.


What is pFTTx?

FTTx, i.e., Fibre to the x is a collective term used for various optical fiber delivery topologies categorized by the infrastructure deployed for last-mile/access connectivity (The variable x is here represents the deployed infrastructure, i.e., B for buildings, H for Homes, P for Premise, N for Node, O for Offices, etc.). On the other hand, pFTTx, i.e., Programmable FTTx, adds a layer of software intelligence to the existing monolithic white-box-based FTTx infrastructure.

It can be called an SDN-NFV, micro-services-oriented, cloud-based network solution that brings more flexibility, cost efficiency, and service excellence to digital networks. It drastically reduces time to market for new digital services, sets the ball rolling for edge computing by disaggregating broadband networks and re-architecting central offices. This technology will shape the future of broadband while connecting millions of people and devices seamlessly.

Some of the key features of pFTTx include: Programmability – across hardware and software empowers operators to have better control; Open ecosystem – through API interfaces defined by the community allows true vendor-neutrality; Disaggregation – of hardware and software allows launching new services up to 8-10 times faster, using cloud delivery models and technologies; COTS deployment – COTS brings flexibility to the procurement and integration of network equipment; Zero-touch provisioning – automates regular functions keeping human intervention to a minimum.

Business benefits of pFTTx include:
a) Reduction in hardware and software costs with white boxes at the edge for RAN, GPON/XGSPON/NG-PON2
b) Service providers can have complete control over their network and can solve their business problems and innovate as required
c) With last-mile network becoming programmable and agile, and with the control over translating business requirements to technical features, the infrastructure of the service providers will become lock-in free
d) Open infrastructure at the last mile significantly reduces the time-to-market and leads to revenue growth
e) Faster roll-out of premium and innovative services lead to an increase in average revenue per user
f) Programmable and agile network ensures a better quality of experience, reducing subscriber churn

What is SDN?

SDN, commonly known as Software Defined Networking, is a unique network architecture approach that helps to virtualize the network by separating the control plane (that manages the network) from the data plane (where the traffic flows). In traditional networking, integrated hardware and software are used to direct traffic across the network. In contrast, SDN uses a smart controller running specialized software to centrally manage all network traffic in the datacentre and a series of routers & switches that forward packets of traffic.

SDN comprises three basic networking layers: infrastructure layer/data plane, which contains the network forwarding equipment/device. The second layer, known as the control layer/control plane, provides forwarding instructions and a set of configurations to the infrastructure layer. The layer is responsible for configuring the infrastructure layer by receiving a service request from the third layer called the application layer/management plane.

The control layer maps the service request onto the infrastructure layer optimally, thus configuring it dynamically. Coming to the application layer, this is where cloud, business, and management applications place their demands for the network onto the control layer. Each of these layers and their application side are programmable interfaces designed to be OPEN. OPEN means they can have multiple vendors’ equipment on the infrastructure layer, multiple vendors’ components of control on the control layer, and various vendors’ applications on the application layer.

The key advantages of Software Defined Networking (SDN) are:- Centralized network control, Network Programmability, Dynamic upscaling and downscaling of network resources, Openness, Dedicated support for specialized applications & use cases, and Individual security policy support at each node. Over the years, SDN (Software Defined Networking) has evolved from just being deployed in datacentre networks to now SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network), Microsegmentation, and NFV (Network Function Virtualisation).

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