Evolution or revolution when migrating to FTTH?

As I have been posting during the last weeks, there are a lot of movements in the ultra broadband access market. Almost all the network operators are investing to upgrade their infrastructures to offer high speed services.

Following some comments from my previous post, this article presents migration strategies to deploy FTTH.

Mainly, I see three scenarios, which I will analyse separately, which are deployments in an area where the operator:

  • has no infrastructure
  • is offering DSL services
  • has CATV infrastructure

When the operator has no infrastructure, for me the right choice is to go fiber all the way. At present, this is the cheapest technology and at the same time, the one that is more future-proof  so the investment is secured. If the operator has CATV platforms and is expanding its network, it can use RFoG technologies so all systems remain invariant.

When the operator is offering broadband through DSL technologies, I also believe the right road to follow is to deploy FTTH. DSL is a technology that requires a lot of signal processing and thus, active equipment in the field tends to be quite big. Power consumption and dissipation are also high therefore, it is difficult to accomodate the equipment in the outside plant.

These two cases I call revolutionary because require a completely new outside plant deployment.

Finally, if the operator has CATV infrastructure I think that a progressive upgrade is possible in order to gradually upgrade its infrastructure. The ultimate step will be a complete FTTH network but by cleverly approaching the fiber near the home in steps, the operator can increase network performance and at the same time invest progressively in the network. Active nodes are not bigger than RF amps so there should be no aesthetic issues either. At present, several CATV operators are following this approach.

Obviously, in a perfect world we would deploy FTTH from day one, but when one faces a new deployment, there are many things to be considered (funding, rights of way, …) that will affect our deployment plans. Thus, evolutionary approaches are a very good way to mitigate the risk and at the same time balance the investment in several years.

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