As with most emerging technologies, it is not uncommon for the full bundle of benefits to be misunderstood, or overlooked in the beginning. Currently, we see the industry focusing on a Gigabit Society, and all emerging access technologies being viewed through the lens of how they will address the bandwidth needs of this society. While this capability is a table-stakes requirement, it is one of many benefits NG-PON2 can bring to a modern service provider’s network.
Modern PON networks frequently face challenges over and above that of pure bandwidth. With NG-PON2, thanks to its implementation of multiple wavelengths per physical PON network, operators are presented with new possibilities to improve service performance and availability. Capable of coexisting with existing PON signals, due to wavelength separation, NG-PON2 can usher in the next wave of multi-Gigabit access and backhaul applications, while the more modest superfast service offerings continue to be delivered via GPON on the same physical PON network.
With NG-PON2, multiple 10G symmetric PON wavelengths can be injected onto one physical PON network at the same time. The ONU on the end-user side of the PON can then be signaled to tune to the desired wavelength. Once an ONU has tuned to the desired wavelength, service delivery begins. Thanks to advancements in tunable laser technologies, the time it takes an ONU to tune to a wavelength or retune to another wavelength, it is now possible to establish service delivery in the range of 50ms. Such rapid tuning times, when, combined with centralized SDN control, create a foundation for new innovative approaches to be applied to the access network to improve efficiency, availability, and performance.
Simple examples include the detection of an OLT transceiver failure, which can have the centralized SDN controller instruct the impacted ONUs to tune to the wavelength of another transceiver on the same PON and remap all of the services through that transceiver, without the customers detecting an issue. Similarly, for scheduled maintenance, ONUs can be migrated to a maintenance wavelength, while activities like upgrades, or patching and splicing are performed on the OLTs of the active service wavelengths. Even examples where, during off-peak times, underutilized wavelengths can be extinguished, and their ONUs migrated to a single baseline wavelength for a specific PON, returning to their primary wavelength when traffic utilization justifies the powering up of the respective OLTs. This action alone can deliver millions of dollars in annual savings for power and cooling. The challenge of rogue ONU identification and isolation is greatly simplified through NG-PON2. If an ONU gets into a permanently on transmit state, blocking the ability of other ONUs on the same wavelength to transmit, the other ONUs can simply be migrated to another wavelength, leaving the rogue ONU in its broken state on a separate wavelength until such time that a field technician can replace it.
It is easy to view NG-PON2 as simply another path to more bandwidth. While it is that, it is also so much more.
Historically the Cable community and the Telco community have rarely seen eye to eye. Usually pitched in direct competition with each other, it was a rarity to witness any commonality in the services they offered, or the way in which they were delivered. In recent years that has begun to change, with two major forces catalyzing that change. Starting with the shift to all IP services, service providers leveraging an all IP architecture have become transport and access technology agnostic, providing a path to desperately needed footprint expansion to secure the scale needed to compete with cloud-based OTT providers.
Next, we have the emergence of multi-disciplined operators. Typically born from a pure- mobile heritage, these operators of scale and means have been securing fixed-access footprints at a ferocious pace. For the multi-disciplined operator, there is no religion when it comes to the access technology footprints they are prepared to acquire, with DOCSIS, GPON, DSL, and FWA all being viewed as candidate targets.
These two trends have set the foundation upon which those service providers of a DOCSIS persuasion can expand their footprint. MSOs can avail of significantly reduced build costs and an accelerated time to market when servicing off-net locations where the DOCSIS network does not currently reach.
Advancements in traditional telecom broadband access technologies have advanced the art to the point where Gigabit symmetric services can now be realized utilizing Gfast technologies. Gfast, when applied to RG6 or similar grade coaxial cables, can achieve these capacities for long distances. Similar to the U.S., throughout Europe and the MENA regions there are many large multi-dwelling units that take delivery of their TV services from a communal satellite installation located on the roof or on nearby secured grounds. In these scenarios, each residential unit has a dedicated coaxial cable feed from a common RF splitter. The ADTRAN SDX2221-16CX dedicated Gfast over Coax DPU permits all operators to leverage these premium point-to-point coaxial cables to comfortably deliver dedicated Gigabit symmetric services to each subscriber. By utilizing existing coaxial cable assets, no expensive and intrusive in-building re-cabling is required. Coexisting with the current satellite TV signals, consumers can continue to avail of their current TV service, while being brought firmly into the fold of the Gigabit Society.
Whether it is a satellite TV provider seeking to provide broadband services, a cable operator seeking to expand footprint, or a traditional telco looking to maximize the potential of Gfast, the ADTRAN SDX2221-16CX is the only IP68 sealed, routine maintenance-free solution that eliminates near-end cross talk, to permit true 1Gbps service up and downstream to each subscriber.
The gift of Gfast from the telecom community to the cable and satellite community is one that will be embraced in the year ahead to assist with the industry-wide quest for Gigabit Society.
The broadband industry is being pushed to support the emergence of the Gigabit Society. A potent combination of infrastructure-based competition from Fiber over-builders and cable operators is forcing traditional telcos to invest. This will become more compounded with the emergence of mm Wave Fixed Wireless Access operators, and Low Earth Orbit satellite offerings in the coming years.
The natural temptation for the industry is to continue to pursue consumers as the sole source of investment return for these Gigabit infrastructures. Many believe that by continuing to offer more and more bandwidth that they can continue to grow ARPU. Early ventures into Gigabit service delivery have shown that over the last couple of years there is a market for true gigabit access speeds, albeit currently a modest one. The market construct sees the classic low single digit percentile of the broader population, namely the “Lead Users,” are the ones adopting the highest capacities. The broader market is embracing the capability to address their pent-up demand with 100Mbps services, while remaining within the elastic spend of their monthly broadband budget.
This scenario is playing out throughout the world, from Washington to Warsaw, and is one in which network operators need to pause and think. As competition and regulation are forcing investment in Gigabit infrastructures, network operators need to ask themselves what they are going to use this Gigabit capability for. Do they leverage the bandwidth in a race to the bottom to try and lure over new subscribers, knowing that the ARPU will remain in the realm of that of 100Mbps service today? This approach may prove short-sighted as the arrival of a Gigabit-ready infrastructure will represent a 100 fold increase over what was previously available for many. Up-selling later will be impossible. Once the Gigabit genie is out of the bottle, it will be impossible to increase prices. History has proven this time and time again.
Instead, network operators need to be looking at how their investment in Gigabit-ready infrastructure can permit them to extract new sources of revenue from their networks. Rather than targeting all revenue return from the consumer, network operators need to think about how they can leverage the benefits of the latest software-defined access (SD-Access) solutions to open up new revenue streams for their businesses. With the latest SD-Access solutions, the capabilities exist to classify and modify traffic flows on a real-time basis. Under the guidance of a centralized SDN control environment, traffic types for which an SLA has been brokered by the network operator can be classified at the edge of the network and handled per the terms of that SLA.
This approach permits the end consumer to remain within their elastic spend for broadband services, while simultaneously permitting cloud-based service providers to offer products that require more bandwidth or more stringent latency and jitter controls. For this, the network operator is putting the excess capacity on the Gigabit access link to work, providing the cloud-based service users the optimal experience, without forcing them to increase their monthly broadband spend. For the cloud-based service provider, the SLA from the network operator provides the confidence that their product is being delivered reliably and consistently, ensuring that their customers are satisfied, for which they will pay the network operator. For the network operator, being able to offer peace of mind, guarantees, and consistency will prove foundational to the emergence of a whole world of new cloud-based product and service innovations that we have not yet even dreamt of - all of which the network operator has a role to play in the value stream.
How will they use their Gig? We hope it is sensibly and not squandered in a race to the bottom.
Dating back to the eras when Bill Gates and Andy Groves were plotting market domination, they had the foresight, a foresight later evident in the late Steve Jobs, that an ecosystem was required to maximise the potential of their respective products. Positioning their products as platforms with published interfaces, Intel-based PCs were enhanced by innovations from PC component and peripheral manufacturers, similarly Windows OS usage evolved in ways that Microsoft could never have natively realised, while IOS devices bore witness to an explosion in business model innovation that birthed our society of swiping and tapping digital natives reared on instant gratification. In each scenario, the spoils accrued to the platform creators far exceeded those which could have been created if they operated alone.
Traditionally infrastructure industries like telecommunications have been closed, with little to no scope for third- parties to engage with the operators’ infrastructure. In times when said operators were the provider of all services delivered over the infrastructure, this was a perfectly logical stance for them to take.
Alas times have changed. With the proliferation of broadband and the transcendence of all traditional telco services to IP, the floodgates have been opened for Over-the-Top (OTT) competitors to gorge on the cash cows of old world telecoms.
This attack on revenue is raising a multitude of questions about the future role for Telcos, particularly as they face a significant upgrade cycle that will be necessary to remain relevant in the Gigabit society. Are they all destined to become pipe providers, or can they capitalise on the platform success enjoyed by the world’s largest digital firms?
ADTRAN's latest SDX generation of broadband access solutions is being built with MOSAIC open SDN control as its foundation alongside disaggregation. All while leveraging the most powerful chipsets in the industry's history. This will enable network operators to offer benefits to providers of cloud-based services that were previously impossible. With the SDX portfolio's real-time classification capabilities, network operators have the unique potential to build aggregated views of the consumer. Aggregated views that the Facebooks and Amazons of this world can never see. Aggregated views that can greatly improve the effectiveness of marketing tools like dynamic ad insertion, positioning the network operator as the one with the most comprehensive insight into the consumer. This visibility, coupled with the unparalleled packet-handling power in the latest access platforms, when combined with MOSAIC's centralised SDN control, creates an environment where operators can enhance traffic flow management, thus maximising the end-user experience. Whether providing the premium customers of gaming companies with a latency advantage, or reducing content distribution costs by steering traffic to local caches, or augmenting cloud-based enterprise applications with a Service Level Agreement (SLA), there are many ways that a network capable of real-time classification and prioritisation can benefit cloud-based service providers. Such valuable interventions can improve the bottom line of the network operator, by opening up new revenue streams, or facilitating access to more favourable wholesale procurement deals.
Building the network as an open platform for service innovation is a relatively new concept for our industry to consider, as is the ability to monetise the network both toward the consumer and cloud-based service providers. In light of easing positions towards policies like net neutrality, the future construct of digital revenues is at stake. With the potential delivered by MOSAIC open SDN control and the SDX Software Defined access portfolio, the pipe owners have a lot to be excited about.