With 50 per cent of houses still connected to less than 100Mbps, a combination of solutions comparable to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) is essential to efficiently provide the speeds required by end-users, according to NetComm Marketing and Communications Director Els Baert.
Speaking on the final day of Broadband World Forum 2018, Baert said that although fibre assets have expanded, connections are growing slower than expected. As FTTH is time-consuming and expensive to roll out, alternative technologies need to be exploited to combat this.
“Many operators have ramped up their fibre roll-out to offer high-speed services, but the take up is less than expected, limiting the number of end-users who are enjoying a fast connection,” said Baert. “New technologies open up new opportunities, providing they are easy to deploy.”
Baert highlighted that Gfast and 4G are two technologies that are ideal solutions for ultra-fast connectivity, but easy deployment is the key factor that must be considered. As each technology has a different use case and deployment model, they each face different challenges.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when rolling-out Gfast, she said, is finding and negotiating Local Power.
“Gfast can deliver gigabit speeds over copper when fibre runs within 200m of the home, but this means installing new active equipment in the field. Running power lines is expensive and even in multi-dwelling units (MDUs), accessible power is not easy to find.
“Standard plugs can easily become unplugged, a separate power meter is needed and there remains a lack of clarity over who will be paying for the electricity. With more people living in MDUs than in any other type of home, this poses a big challenge to providers.
“The missing link is a Reverse Powered Gfast Distribution Point Unit (DPU), as self-installation and self-activation limits the need for outside help and therefore speeds up the process.”
NetComm launched an expansion to its DPU portfolio exclusively at Broadband World Forum, with new features providing network operators the opportunity to connect millions more premises more cost effectively to ultra-fast broadband. NetComm now offers DPUs featuring 4-port, 8-port and 16-port models which give operators new options for serving different neighbourhood configurations and MDU sizes.
In cases where there is no copper lead-in or it’s hard to bring fibre to 200m from the premises, 4G LTE can bring a solution. By using the improved capabilities of the mobile network, which allow for more bandwidth, operators can leverage their unused spectrum to offer Fixed Wireless services.
Baert emphasised that the current mobile networks are not built for fixed broadband services and operators need to extend the “trusted zone” in order to use fixed wireless as an efficient alternative to fixed broadband.
“The trusted zone removes the fear of less control as it provides the operator with more visibility and management capabilities over the broadband experience. This means the installation process is optimised to ensure the best possible performance and the device at home can be monitored remotely, which helps to reduce the costs and disruption to the local area.”
NetComm has over 10 years of experience in supporting Fixed Wireless networks using professionally installed outdoor devices to allow for the most optimal performance. At Broadband World Forum 2018, NetComm launched an indoor version of this device increasing the market opportunity for operators as it brings a very effective alternative for locations with good signal reception.
The key message from Baert was that broadband has now become a crucial part of society and the entire global ecosystem, but the path to an all fibre network is not straight.
“FTTH is expensive to roll-out and location, long distances and other factors make it difficult to efficiently install. This is why other viable solutions, which offer speeds that are comparable to FTTH, are so important. Factors differ, but everyone’s connected-life matters and it is crucial to remember that there is not one solution that fits all.”