ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
BRINGING THE WORLD THE LATEST IN OPTICAL COMMUNICATIONS NEWS
NEXTGEN OPTICAL SOFTWARE THE KEY TO FUTURE SUCCESS p18
FTTX NEEDS TO PASS THE COST-BENEFIT TEST
THE BROAD VIEW OF HIGH-SPEED CONNECTIVITY
FTTX ROLLOUT p15
PISA EXPRESS CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIDGE
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12 John Williamson – FTTx Needs To Pass the Test 15 Magnus Angermund – Europe’s FTTx Demands New Methods 16 Matthew Peach – The Broad View of High Speed Connectivity 18 Antony Savvas – Next-Gen Software the Key 20 Stefan Vorndran & Scott Jordan – Automated Alignment Boosts 23 Ellen Manning – Not Just Greener Networks 24 Matthew Peach – Connect 2017 in Berlin Throws Light on Gigabit Broadband 26 Markus Weber – Coherent Interoperability Required 28 John Williamson – Silicon Photonics Passes the Tipping Point 30 Li Hongbiao – Bearer Networks Challenges 32 Antony Savvas – The Changing Test & Measurement Landscape 34 Event Focus 35 Product Focus
Hit the ground running
Happy New Year! to all our readers. 2018 is forecast by many to be an even busier year for the industry, matched by a new calendar of larger exhibitions and conferences, reflecting increased activity in emerging areas like gigabit networks, Gfast and silicon photonics solutions, and 5G for people on the move. But just because the industry can do something it doesn’t always mean it’s cost eective. A case in point is FTTX, which needs to pass the cost-benefit test before it should be deployed, as John Williamson writes. Continuing this theme, Hextronic argues that Europe’s booming FTTX rollout is demanding new methods and solutions. In October, Broadband World Forum presented a wide range of services and solutions. From that Berlin gathering Optical Connections has derived an interview with Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, as well as a report from Adtran’s Connect 17 industry conference. Considering that next-generation optical software is the key to future services, Antony Savvas says that operators need to take a mix-and-match approach to networks if they are to meet the demands of the cloud, 5G and the Internet of Things. The development of automated fibre aligners has made a significant dierence to what could be a tedious task. So how has this technology progressed from the early devices, and what is possible with today’s technology? Experts from Physik Instrumente explain its evolution. Regular contributor Ellen Manning this issue looks at the development of greener optical networks. She finds that besides satisfying increasing legislation in this area, greener optical networks can actually be cheaper, perform better and occupy less space. It wouldn’t be Optical Connections if we didn’t give an update on silicon photonics. Now John Williamson believes that this technology has passed the “tipping point”, adding that with its immense potential for cost eective transformation of optical communications and data management, silicon photonics is now coming of age. There’s more on coping with Cloud-based service provision and storage, from guest author Li Hongbiao of ZTE; and the likely impacts of 400G data rates on the test and measurement landscape by Antony Savvas. If you’re getting straight out of the blocks in 2018 to attend Photoptics (25-27 January, Madeira); Metro Connect (29-31 January, Miami, USA); FTTH Europe (13-15 February, Valencia); or Mobile World Congress (26 February – 1 March, Barcelona), then we may well see you there.
Matthew Peach Contributing Editor, Optical Connections
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ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
“There may be some reluctance to build intensive FTTH if regulators subsequently force telcos to open up infrastructure access to competitors” John Williamson – see page 12
APPLICATIONS & RESEARCH
Stanford researchers build a ‘billion sensors’ earthquake observatory with optical fibres
Thousands of miles of buried optical fibres crisscross California’s San Francisco Bay Area delivering high-speed internet and HD video to homes and businesses. Biondo Biondi, a professor of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, dreams of turning that dense network into an inexpensive “billion sensors” observatory for continuously monitoring and studying earthquakes. Over the past year, Biondi’s group has shown that it’s possible to convert the jiggles of perturbed optical fibre strands into information about the direction and magnitude of seismic events. The researchers have been recording those seismic jiggles in a 3-mile loop of optical fibre installed beneath the Stanford University campus. “We can continuously listen to – and hear well – the Earth using Slow speeds and the Internet ‘rush hour’ could soon be a thing of the past with new hardware designed and demonstrated by University College London (UCL) researchers that provides consistently high-speed broadband connectivity, with rates at more than 10,000 Mbits/s, using new, simplified and low-cost receiver technology. “UK broadband speeds are woefully slow compared to many other countries, but this is not a technical limitation. Although 300 Mbits/s may be available to some, average UK speeds are currently 36 Mbits/s.
sensor coverage would also enable higher resolution measurements of ground responses to shaking.
smaller ones, in greater detail and pinpoint their sources more quickly than is currently possible. Greater
pre-existing optical fibres that have been deployed for telecom purposes,” Biondi said. Currently researchers monitor earthquakes with seismometers, which are more sensitive than the proposed telecom array, but their coverage is sparse and they can be challenging and expensive to install and maintain, especially in urban areas. By contrast, a seismic observatory like the one Biondi proposes would be relatively inexpensive to operate. “Every metre of optical fibre in our network acts like a sensor and costs less than a dollar to install,” Biondi said. “You will never be able to create a network using conventional seismometers with that kind of coverage, density and price.” Such a network would allow scientists to study earthquakes, especially By 2025, average speeds over 100 times faster will be required to meet increased demands for bandwidth- hungry applications such as ultra-high definition video, online gaming and the Internet of Things,” explained lead researcher Dr Sezer Erkılınç, UCL electronic & electrical engineering. “The future growth in the number of mobile devices, coupled with the promise of 5G to enable new services via smart devices, means we are likely to experience bandwidth restrictions; our new optical receiver technology will help combat this problem.” The UCL team notes that
The location of a 3-mile, figure-8 loop of optical fibres installed beneath the Stanford campus. Image: Stamen Design and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
UCL simplifies receivers for ultra-fast access
Networks Group, Professor Polina Bayvel, UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering. The new, simplified receiver retains many of the advantages of coherent receivers, but is cheaper and smaller, requiring just a quarter of the detectors used in conventional receivers. Simplification was achieved by adapting a coding technique to fibre access networks that was originally designed to prevent signal fading in wireless communications. This approach has the additional cost-saving benefit of using the same optical fibre for both upstream and downstream data.
to maximise the capacity of optical fibre links, data is transmitted using dierent wavelengths of light and the ideal would be to dedicate a wavelength to each subscriber to avoid bandwidth sharing between users. Although this is already possible using highly sensitive coherent receivers, these are costly and only financially viable in core networks. “Their cost and complexity has so far prevented their introduction into the access networks and limits the support of multi-Gbits/s broadband rates available to subscribers,” said co-author and Head of the Optical
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
APPLICATIONS & RESEARCH
University of Utah hits terahertz milestone
THE ORIGINAL PUSH-PULL CONNECTOR
Distinguished Professor Valy Vardeny, was published in a recent edition of Nature Communications. By depositing a special form of multilayer perovskite onto a silicon wafer, Nahata and Vardeny could modulate the amplitude of Terahertz waves passing through it using a simple halogen lamp. Previous attempts to do this have usually required the use of an expensive, high- power laser. What made this particular demonstration dierent is that it was not only the lamp power that allowed for this modulation but also the specific colour of the light. Consequently, the team found that they could put dierent perovskites on the same silicon substrate, where each region could be controlled by dierent colours from the lamp. This is not easily possible when using conventional semiconductors like silicon. “Think of it as the dierence between something that is binary versus something that has ten steps,” is how Nahata explains the properties of this new structure. “Silicon responds only to the power in the optical beam but not to the colour. It gives you more capabilities to actually do something, say for information processing or whatever the case may be.”
Work by the University of Utah on perovskite, a mineral discovered in Russia in the 1830s, could hold a key to the next step in ultra- high-speed communications and computing. Researchers from the university’s Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics and Astronomy have discovered that a special kind of perovskite, a combination of an organic and inorganic compound that has the same structure as the original mineral, can be layered on a silicon wafer to create a key component for the communications system of the future. That system would use the Terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications using light instead of electricity to shuttle data. The Terahertz range is a band between infrared light and radio waves and utilises frequencies that cover the range from 100 to 10,000 Gigahertz . Scientists are studying how to use these light frequencies to transmit data because of its potential for boosting the speeds of devices such as Internet modems or mobile phones. The new research, led by University of Utah Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Ajay Nahata and Physics and Astronomy
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A high-speed milstone: Valy Vardeny and Ajay Nahata
ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
“Operators have to take a holistic approach to their networks if they are to meet rising customer demand”
NEWS & BUSINESS
Antony Savvas – see page 18
Comunicazioni (AGCOM) released figures that show the country’s fixed line broadband total reaching 16.2 million connections at the end of the second quarter, adding 880,000 connections year-on-year AGCOM says a reduction of 790,000 xDSL accesses was offset by an increase of 1.67 million connections using other technologies, mainly FTTH and FTTC. Pisa express: more Italian FTTH
Italian wholesale operator Open Fibre, public sector investment house Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) and the City of Pisa have signed a €12 million undertaking to build an FTTH network to service the inhabitants of Pisa. The work started in November 2017 and the aim is to cover the city within eighteen months. In total, 35,000 premises will be passed using around 20,000 km of fibre. Open Fibre points out that FTTH can support up to 1 Gbits/s, of both download and upload. The agreement with the City of Pisa establishes the procedures and times for digging and progressing Fibre will use underground ducts and infrastructure to limit as much as possible the impact of excavations on the surroundings and fibre optic installation. Where possible, Open
any inconvenience to the community. Excavations will be made by prioritising sustainable and low environmental impact. According to Roberto Tognaccini, of Network Operations Centre’s Open Fibre Centre, FTTH is a radical paradigm shift in the field of ultra-wide bandwidth, and people and businesses in Pisa can utilise the technology for many applications in many different fields. And the deployment emphasis will be on minimising disruption to the city’s population. “For more than 50% of the plan, we will use existing infrastructures,” says Tognaccini. “In other cases, we will act with the least possible impact using non-invasive techniques such as mini-trenches and one day dig.” The Pisa FTTH development comes a week after Italian regulator Autorità per le Garanzie nelle
Perfect Pisa: Open Fibre will use underground infrastructure to reduce the impact of excavations in the city.
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
NEWS & BUSINESS
Telefónica optimises South American fibre access
Telefónica is using software to optimise the performance and service delivery of its
network analysis and recommendations for customer care agents and field technicians. With the GPON Expresse deployment, Telefónica can now utilise ClearView support across both copper and fibre networks. Wi-Fi, the operator could have complete end-to- end management across its access and in-home networks. “Telefónica has deployed ASSIA Expresse and ClearView products to eectively manage our high speed copper networks while providing exceptional customer care support,” stated Eduardo de Santos, Director of Customer Service Operation. “With the addition of GPON Expresse, we now have a set of unified subscriber care tools that seamlessly support our network transformation to fibre, further enhancing our ability to deliver excellent subscriber care across our entire Telefónica network.” By also incorporating ClearView support for able to access fibre by the end of 2022. Nearly 1.2 million households and businesses are already able to connect to the fibre network, and around one-third of them are using it so far,” remarked Stats NZ business performance senior manager, Daria Kwon. The New Zealand Government is investing around $1.8 billion to bring the benefits of UFB to as many New Zealand inhabitants as possible. In August 2017 the Government announced a new $130 million communications infrastructure package to extend the UFB build to around 190 new towns and fast-track an earlier UFB deployment schedule by two years.
fibre broadband access networks in five South American countries. In Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru the telco will deploy ASSIA’s GPON Expresse solution to manage its Gigabit optical broadband networks with performance-enhancing diagnostics. GPON Expresse is designed to oer a unified software-defined solution applicable to any deployment model, with open interfaces for seamless integration with Operations Support Systems, or with other tools used by customer care, network operations, marketing or field force departments. GPON Expresse adds to the suite of ASSIA software products currently deployed at Telefónica in Latin America: DSL Expresse for diagnostics and optimisation of high speed DSL networks, and ClearView for According to recent figures fromNew Zealand’s national statistics organisation, the number of actively used fibre optic connections in the country reached 397,000 in the year ended June 2017. Stats NZ says this is up 67% from the June 2016 year. Fibre optic connections now make up 21% of all broadband connections in New Zealand, compared with 12% in the June 2016 year. In terms of new connections, there were 159,000 new additions established in the year ended June 2017, compared with 133,000 the previous year. “The Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme aims to have 87% percent of New Zealanders
New Zealand: Charge of the light brigade
ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
NEWS & BUSINESS
nbn cites service quality issues in HFC suspension
Deutsche Telekom tentatively tests FTTH waters
developed a performance- improved multicore, multimode optical fibre and KDDI Research provided signals to evaluate the 10-petabit transmission and then the transmission characteristics with an efficient approach to evaluate all the channels, achieving the record 10.16 petabits/second transmission over 11.3 km. SEI added that this experiment demonstrates Australia’s wholesale-only, open-access broadband network operator nbn has announced that it will temporarily pause all new orders over its Hybrid Coaxial- Fibre (HFC) access network. This pause will be in effect until incremental field work is undertaken to raise the quality of service for end users. A statement said that the changes to the HFC (also known as Pay TV network) rollout – which was currently adding an average of nearly 80,000 new premises each month – were designed to provide a better experience when getting connected and when using the service. The changes will also help to further improve the reliability of the network. In order to meet a higher level of service quality, nbn Co will be performing advanced network testing and remediation where
of more than 10 petabits/ second using multicore, multimode optical fibres. “We will contribute to the development of the optical fibre transmission technologies for future versatile and large capacity data communication including 5G mobile system while assessing the range of applicability of multicore and multimode fibres,” the company announced, The achievement was first reported as a post-deadline paper at ECOC 2017. that, while it was pleased that many end users served over its HFC network were satisfied, too many were not having the experience they deserve when getting connected, and some were not experiencing the full potential of the network. needed, wholesale connector replacements, signal amplification calibration, and lead-in work as required. The company’s current corporate plan calls for nearly three million premises to ultimately be served by HFC access technology. Today, nearly one million premises are ready to connect, with 370,000 having done so already. The new initiatives will be first applied to the network where there are existing end users. Once these areas meet the required standard, the company says it will then focus on those areas next scheduled in the rollout queue. nbn Co management said
KDDI Research and Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) have announced that their successful ultra- high capacity optical fibre transmission experiment has broken the world record for transmission capacity through a single optical fibre. The previous record stood at 2.15 petabits/second, with the group achieving 10.16 petabits/s over multicore optical fibre, which enables 114-space multiplicity. With a transmission capacity of 10 petabits/second, data for 25,000 Blu-ray disks (50 GB/both sides) would be transmitted in one second, or 100 million people could simultaneously communicate at 100 megabits. transmission record with 10 petabit/s Deutsche Telekom is testing the national appetite for FTTH. Up to this point, the telco has focused on taking fibre to business parks, or building fibre infrastructure to cable distribution boxes and using vectoring over copper to complete the run to homes. A new Telekom marketing strategy is to pilot the build-out of FTTH in smaller towns. The first project is being launched in the town of Bad Staffelstein in Franconia. Starting in December until the end of February, residents there can register for a fibre optic line. If a minimum of 750 orders for ultra-fast Internet are received during the pre-marketing phase, the fibre optic network will be built out to the community by the end of 2018. In addition, early bird sign-ups for an FTTH service will not have to pay any installation charges. Further pilot towns in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Sumitomo breaks ultra-high
SEI commented, “The mobile communication system after 5G will require innovations both in wireless technologies and in the network and optical fibre transmission technologies that support them. Our new technology would be expected to be a key technology that will support broadband and a low latency mobile communications system after 5G and will provide new experiences and services.” In the experiment, SEI give people access to high- speed Internet lines,” added van Damme. The company is also beefing up its efforts to expand its main fibre optic infrastructure in areas outside of the pilot projects. Saxony, and Thuringia are to follow early next year. “We introduced pre- marketing in 2011 and came back to it as a great tool for building out fibre optic infrastructure, says Niek Jan van Damme, head of Deutsche Telekom’s business operations in Germany. “Demand was mostly too low a few years ago, but we’re hoping for a better response this time around.” Deutsche Telekom plans to lay the fibre optic cables using micro-trenching technology. “This saves us time and money and minimises the disruption for residents. More communities should opt to use this innovative technology and
the feasibility of ultra- high capacity optical communication systems
Multicore multimode fibre
n H n
C band C+L band
0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Number of spatial channels
Figure 2 Comparison between past experimental results and achievement in this experiment Comparison between past experimental results and achievement in this experiment.
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
TECHNOLOGIES & PRODUCTS
“There are clear motivations for greener optical networks. But how?”
EllenManning – see page 23
Keysight helps system designers achieve 5G goals
Iskratel recently announced it will demonstrate its virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) solution at MobileWorld Congress, following the success of a pilot project with Russia’s major Tier-1 operator. As part of its project of core-network transformation Iskratel’s vIMS solution, with a geo-redundant setup of vIMS core in geographically separate locations. In addition to the ability to provide services to SIP-based customers, the solution also allowed the interconnection to vIMS, the operator successfully deployed Iskratel successful in virtual IMS pilot testing
of customers on legacy equipment, including analogue, time-division multiplexing (TDM) and next- generation network. Following completion of the first parts of the pilot phase at the end of 2016, the solution revenue streams through the provision of cloud services and infrastructure, as well as streamline its operations, reducing OPEX and CAPEX. Iskratel’s CSP is the only architecture of its kind which guarantees high availability and geo-redundancy of cloud services and apps on an open, ETSI NFV-compliant architecture. It features orchestrator-driven process automation and predictive auto-scalability, ensuring the lowest total cost of ownership as operators migrate their architectures to the cloud. Iskratel’s CSP uses mature, OPNFV-approved open source technology, enriched with Iskratel’s own extensions that provide high availability and low-latency operation. will enable the operator to generate additional
Keysight Technologies says its pre-5G modulation analysis option, available in the latest 89600 VSA software release, will include standards- compliant 5G new radio (NR) measurements upon the 3GPP 5G NR standard’s release. With this functionality, the 89600 VSA software is enabling component, module and system designers to be first-to-market with the upcoming 3GPP 5G NR standard. Pre-5G is a 5G radio specification published by Verizon Wireless, in cooperation with partner companies. The specification targets fixed wireless access at 28-GHz frequencies for initial trials and deployments. Keysight’s 89600 VSA provides comprehensive time, frequency, and modulation domain analysis for pre-5G signals based on
this specification. The software allows designers to configure result traces and pre-5G specific modulation quality metrics and traces for quick and easy identification of signal characteristics. The software also helps designers troubleshoot intermittent error peaks and repeated synchronization failures. 3GPP 5G NR is the emerging global 5G standard. The specification is expected to be included in Release 15 of the 3GPP standard. “With our latest software release, we have accomplished that goal, giving designers the functionality they need to work with the draft specification today to be first-to-market with 5G”said Charles Plott, marketing and planning manager of Keysight Technologies’ design engineer software organization.
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ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
TECHNOLOGIES & PRODUCTS
With an additional row of contacts, the QSFP-DD provides an eight lane electrical interface.
Molex drives development of next- gen network technologies
Molex is serving in several leadership roles in Multi- Source Agreement (MSA) Groups aimed at fostering development of new high-speed, high-density interfaces and links used in telecommunication, data centre equipment and networking platforms. The company is a founding promoter, editor and member of the QSFP-DD (Quad Small Form Factor Double Density) MSA, the SFP-DD MSA, and the 100G Lambda MSA groups, all of which support multi-vendor interoperability. Towards the end of 2017, the QSFP-DD MSA released an updated 3.0 hardware specification for the new QSFP-DD form factor. A QSFP28 compatible double-density interface, QSFP-DD pluggable modules can support up to 400 Sckipio’s G.fast silicon delivers gigabit broadband Sckipio’s newest G.fast broadband chipset family delivers 1.2 gigabits of aggregate bandwidth over 100mof telephone wire. The start-up’s SCK-23000 chipset family implements the ITU’s G.fast Amendment 3 212a profile. The new profile doubles the spectrum used from 106MHz to 212MHz, boosting the broadband rates. “What the telcos want is gigabit services,” said Michael Weissman, vice president of marketing, “This second- generation [chipset family] allows that.”
Systems designed for
Gbps in aggregate over an 8 x 50 Gbps electrical interface (quadruple the bandwidth of conventional QSFP modules), allowing networking equipment to keep pace with advances in ASIC (application- specific integrated circuit) technology. “Building and sustaining the pipeline of interoperable interconnect solutions is absolutely critical to support advances in transceiver modules, switch technologies and servers. Through strategic collaborations, we can provide the expertise needed within the industry to continue pushing the boundaries of high-speed, high-density networking,” said Scott Sommers, group product manager at Molex, co-chair of the QSFP-DD MSA and chair of the SFP-DD MSA. The SCK-23000 comprises two chipsets. One is the 8-port DP23000 chipset used at the distribution point unit (DPU) while the second chipset is the CP23000, used for customer premise equipment. The chipsets enable an aggregate line-rate performance (downstream and upstream) of 1.7Gbit/s over 50m, to 0.4Gbit/s over 300m. The DP23000 chipset also supports two bonded telephone lines, effectively doubling the line rate. Implementing G.fast requires vectoring, an intensive digital signal processing task used to rejects crosstalk – leaking signals – between the telephone wires at the distribution point. Sckipio says the SCK- 23000 supports up to 96 ports (or 48 bonded ports) at the 212a profile. The design uses distributed parallel processing that spreads the vectoring computation among the DP23000 8-port devices used.
management up to 3.5W optical modules, the new interface features two lanes that operate at up to 56 Gbps per lane, providing throughput of 116 Gbps over the two lanes with PAM4 modulation. By doubling the lane density and data rate of an SFP connector, the SFP-DD interface will significantly boost port density and deliver optimal scalability in networking cables and equipment. Molex and other industry leaders recently established the 100G Lambda MSA to develop specifications based on 100 Gbps per wavelength optical technology, and addressing the technical challenges of achieving optical interface interoperability for transceivers produced by different manufacturers. low-latency capabilities of the solution make it the clear choice for operators seeking an affordable and sustainable 5G rollout, specifically in those instances where backhaul fibre is initially unavailable or impractical,” said Hossam Salib, VP, cable & wireless strategy. Adtran’s Mosaic Open Network Alliance was established in August, 2017, to accelerate the industry’s transition to open programmable, scalable networks and to provide operators from across the globe with a single point of reference for leading SD- Access and NFV solutions. “We see this open network alliance as driving value for customers around the world by bringing together the global technology leaders for both fixed and wireless access and backhaul
QSFP-DD modules will be backwards compatible with existing 28 Gbps QSFP and QSFP+ form factors and provide flexibility for end users, network platform designers and integrators. Providing excellent signal integrity and thermal protection, Molex QSFP and QSFP+ Integrated Product Solutions support Ethernet, The SFP-DD MSA recently released the initial hardware specification and drawings for the SFP-DD electrical interface. The SFP-DD specification builds on a full range of Molex SFP+ and SFP Interconnect Solutions, including cages, connectors and cable assemblies, and optical modules. Targeting support for thermal Fibre Channel, SAS and InfiniBand applications. Adtran has announced an agreement with CCS to deliver self-organising mmWave technology for backhaul and access capabilities to wired and wireless operators as they embrace 5G densification architectures and significantly higher access speeds. The global agreement with CCS, a UK-based pioneer in self-organizing 5G mmWave backhaul and Gigabit access, forms the latest development in Adtran’s Mosaic Open Network Alliance initiative. It complements the firm’s existing SD-Access based NG-PON2 solution for 5G backhaul, featuring non-service impacting wavelength agility and ultra- low latency to safeguard the extraordinary SLA performance demands of 5G, IoT and other mission-critical services. “The resiliency, scale and
Adtran announces self-organising mmWave technology
solutions,” said Steve Greaves, CEO at CCS.
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
OVD CLAD DEPOSITION SYSTEM
The OVD Deposition System is an economical way to overclad core preforms. Nextrom’s OFC05 is a dual-spindle cladding system for a deposition rate of 240g/min. As a standard, D4 (OMCTS) as a raw material and CH4 as a burner gas are used.
JOHN WILLIAMSON FTTX BENEFIT
FTTX NEEDS TO PASS THE COSTBENEFIT TEST
If it’s only a question of performance then FTTx is almost always justified. But in the real world, such large investments need to be properly measured before digging starts, writes John Williamson.
measure against new entrants and cable operators, and lower churn and OpEx on FTTH. For some of the more forward- thinking incumbents at least, he says, consolidation of consumer broadband, enterprise access and mobile transport onto a single fibre platform is another draw. On the downside, as noted by FTTH Council Europe President Ronan Kelly, some incumbents are very much concerned with extracting the maximum from their copper investments, and there may be some reluctance to build intensive FTTH if regulators subsequently force telcos to open up infrastructure access to competitors. Cost barriers exist but they are coming down. One obvious barrier to further FTTH and FTTP deployments has been the cost of building the networks. The FTTH Council Europe estimates that it would cost €137 billion to provide a complete overlay of the EU28 countries. And this is a substantially lower figure than some other projections! Kelly points out that the primary FTTH/ FTTP cost components are not to do with high technology, but rather items such as digging up roads, pavements and gardens to accommodate the fibre. “It’s not only direct costs, but indirect costs particularly driven out of time-to-market,” said Kelly.
T here’s a persuasive communications technology into the access network will deliver the capacities to support broadband applications and services over the longer term. The degree of fibre penetration that is commercially viable depends on variables such as population density and distribution, dwelling stock, topography, sector regulation, investment history and technology landscape. Even today, FTTH and FTTP are the most ambitious forms of pervasive optical access. school of thought that believes only deeper penetration of optical
DIFFERENT GOALS Depending on their business
backgrounds and/or where they sit in the communications food chain, dierent operators and service providers have dierent motives and objectives when pursuing intensive fibre access. For new entrants, for example, there’s the desire to create or expand an innovative and competitive business portfolio, in the process hopefully eating the lunch of the incumbents. Rupert Wood, Research Director at Analysys Mason, suggests that cable operators are looking to establish new footprints leading to organic growth, especially in B2B type areas, and achieve lower operating costs on fibre than coax. For incumbents Wood lists defensive
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
JOHN WILLIAMSON FTTX BENEFIT
with about 75% conversion of premises passed, is the result of an alliance of local electric utilities in rural Norway selling under the brand Altibox, and is effectively a local fixed line monopoly. The second is the Reykjavik power company which sells only fibre and no services - not even Internet access - to end users. It basically picks up a utility charge every month for either 500 Mbits/s or 1 Gbits/s access, and end users choose ISPs, TV providers and so on independently. “Utilities are treated very differently from telcos by financial markets, and this benefits them,” said Wood. Wholesale/retail alliances between network owners and service providers – such as that between CityFibre and Vodafone in the UK – also seem to work well. These two recently announced a long-term strategic partnership designed to bring ultrafast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to five million UK homes and businesses by 2025. The duo say that this deal provides Vodafone UK with access to a superior product at a lower cost, and with better service conditions than the regulated wholesale terms offered by the incumbent operator for access to its legacy copper broadband network. “It is consistent with Vodafone Group’s capital-smart fixed infrastructure strategy that aims for an optimal mix of build/strategic partnership/ CAPACITY AND CONTENT The capacities offered by particular FTTH/ FTTP technologies vary significantly. The widely-used GPON supports 2.4 Gbits/s downstream and 1.25 Gbits/s upstream, typically shared over 32 or 64 lines. The newer XGS-PON, being adopted by operators such as China Telecom, Korea’s SK Broadband and Telefónica, offers 10 Gbits/s symmetrical and asymmetric10 Gbits/s downstream/ 2.5 Gbits/s upstream. NG-PON2 initially offers 40 Gbits/s downstream and 10 Gbits/s upstream, and could go to 80 Gbits/s each way. Given the availability of a workable bandwidth threshold, probably as important as FTTH/FTTP capacity is the attractiveness of the services and applications run over fibre. “Consumers don’t buy bandwidth,” said Kelly. “Consumers buy entertainment and functionality – things that are going to improve their lives.” Kelly envisages a virtuous cycle in which there is a repeating process of benign policies and regulation sponsoring increased investment in high capacity FTTH/FTTP which, in turn, stimulates innovation in applications, services and new consumer electronic devices that need and can use the higher capacity. In practice there may be no FTTP/FTTH “killer app”. “Perhaps the best case is not a service at all: just bandwidth for faster upload and download of files”, ventured Wood. wholesale/buy approaches in fixed broadband”, says a joint statement.
Labour costs are also a consideration. “Another factor is supply of labour. Telefónica and Portugal Telecom were in a strong position in this respect when they started rolling out FTTH at the bottom of a recession,” said Wood. “Deutsche Telekom, for example, would be in a weak position now in a booming German economy if it wanted to do FTTH.” BUILD COSTS COME DOWN In practice, FTTH/FTTP build costs are reducing. In Europe, for instance, the EU’s Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (2014/61/EU) is billed as being able to save up to 30% of high-speed Internet roll-out costs. The Directive includes measures such as the sharing of physical infrastructures, including those operated by utilities, the efficient co-ordination of civil works, and streamlined permit- granting procedures. “Things like duct sharing and pole sharing are having a huge impact with regard to reducing that deployment cost and the time to deploy,” said Kelly. “Where useable ducts exist in Europe, for example in Spain and Portugal FTTH roll- out has been low-cost and rapid,” added Wood. “FTTH costs about three or four times more per premises passed where there is no useable infrastructure – where existing copper lines are simply buried – than where there is.” Also contributing to lower FTTH/ FTTP deployment costs are technical innovations such as higher useful PON split ratios, equipment scale economics that accompany continuing fibre roll-outs worldwide, and the use of build practices such as micro-trenching. This last is one focus for Italy’s Open Fibre, which, in partnership with public sector investment house Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and the City of Pisa, is building an FTTH network to service the inhabitants of Pisa. Government subsidies could also change the economics of deeper fibre deployment. This is an idea recently Bundesverband Breitbandkommunikation e.V. (BREKO). One element of BREKO’s multi-point plan for the realisation of an optical fibre-centred future is for the German authorities to make available €1,500 voucher subsidies to citizens and business people to incentivise them to take direct fibre connections. BUSINESS MODEL DIVERSITY In parallel with decreasing deployment costs, a number of different FTTH/FTTP business models have been implemented in different locations. Utility-owned new FTTH roll-outs have had some success, said Wood, and he offered two Nordic examples of where utilities have made the first move, re-used their own infrastructure where possible, and got very high conversion rates in excess of 50%. One, a high-cost, high-ARPU model floated by the German association of alternative service operators,
COPPER BOTTOMING OUT? The performance capabilities of copper networks has been transformed by enhancement and vectoring techniques, and especially the development of the G.fast protocol. Analysys Mason’s Wood believes that broadband copper technologies will have a role for some time but only in specific contexts. These include inside MDUs, where there is a lot of interest in North America and the Asia-Pacific region, and in geographies such as Australia and Switzerland where there are convenient distribution-point locations to site G.fast DPUs. In the wider landscape, even though copper performance has improved dramatically over time, Kelly said that the various technologies will come under capacity pressure in a few years hence. “From a headroom point of view, fibre is the only future-proof approach,” he said. Wood also thinks that with advanced copper technologies, along with 5G fixed wireless (another potential FTTH/FTTP competitor) there could be a worry about long-term OpEx. Kelly made an interesting connection between fibre and 5G. “Without deep fibre there isn’t going to be any 5G,” he speculated. DIFFERENT BUSINESS CASE ‘SWEET SPOTS’ As might be anticipated, there is no “sweet spot” in terms of demand aggregation projections for making a viable business case for FTTH/FTTP deployments. This will depend on variables such as the cost to the network builder/ operator, how much infrastructure can be re-used, and what types of dwelling are targeted. So, for example, Wood says Altibox alliance members have a 65% trigger because it’s deploying in very high cost areas. Meantime, Reggefibre, now part of KPN in the Netherlands, has 30% to 35% trigger.
ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
MAGNUS ANGERMUND FTTx ROLLOUT
Ecient fibre installation for next generation
EUROPE’S MASSIVE FTTX
networks requires fresh thinking, says Hexatronic.
NEW METHODS AND SOLUTIONS
A t the latest ECOC innovations in a Market Focus session entitled “Massive FTTx- rollout around Europe demands new solutions”. The digital transformation is a great change aecting the entire world and the global fibre optic network is the foundation for this change to be realised. Since many governments have understood the importance of digitalisation and the great value it brings to each country, the goals are highly ambitious in terms of time and the amount of installations needed. It is important to keep up the pace and establish further fibre optic networks to bring the advantages of digitalisation to people and communities. In addition to this, the implementation of 5G is just around the corner, which will drive the need for high capacity fibre networks. digitalisation and all planned projects around the globe it has become a race where very few countries want to take the risk of being left behind. It is a huge challenge to install fibre to households and other facilities, especially as the European FTTH- market is booming and there are a huge amount of households that are due to be connected. Together with 5G, equipment for smart cities etc, the need for fibre installations will be huge. To meet the expected and demanded time plans and price frames, it is necessary to find new, more ecient solutions and smarter methods for installation, especially since a lot of the facilities are not easy to reach. exhibition in Gothenburg in September 2017, Swedish fibre optic technology company Hexatronic described its latest FTTx deployment MEETING THE CHALLENGE When it comes to the goals for
Hexatronic has developed new solutions and methods for FTTx rollout to achieve the digitalisation goals around Europe. Magnus Angermund , the company’s Director of Marketing explains.
The tight timetable has a great impact when it comes to choosing design, material, methods and partners. Everything has to be right from the start, there is no time to make the wrong decisions or too many mistakes. This huge rollout can only be done once. Therefore it must be done correctly. ECOSYSTEM Since the volumes are massive and the time very limited, everything in this “eco system” must be handled with these aspects in mind. Every decision will have great consequences. As a supplier you have a responsibility to your customer and the society to do everything you can to solve this situation. That means in practice that the products you oer must support high quality standards to make sure the networks last for many years. To bring value to all stakeholders, the products must also be ecient to reduce the installation time as much as possible. EXAMPLES During the presentation at the ECOC exhibition we gave a few examples of what Hexatronic has done to help the situation. The first example illustrated how thinner micro cables with improved characteristic can reduce cost for material, installation, handling and transportation. We have developed a 192-fibre cable with standard 250 micro fibre and an outer diameter of only 7,9mm. The cable
also has significantly improved blowing performance – both length and speed. We gave examples of improvements that can be made compared to using a traditional cable. Since the new cable has improved blowing distance by 25% and enables use of thinner micro ducts, costs can be reduced. By using thinner ducts it is possible to save time and money in more than one way. During the presentation we estimated possible savings in percentage for each and every one of these costs. We also gave an example of a new ecient method for install fibre to individual households. We compared a traditional installation method with the solution where you use a single fibre with pre-mounted connectors in both ends. That solution together with our improved blowing tool, oers the possibility to save time and money. Even if the material cost is slightly higher, the installation time can be reduced by up to 90%. The last example we gave was of a new fast and cost- ecient method to install wi-fi antennas, cameras and similar equipment which all depend on a reliable functioning network. If we all do our best to improve methods and solutions, it will help to reach the European digitalisation goals in time, hopefully also at a reduced cost and as sustainable as possible. Since these projects are huge, each saving makes a big impact. It is our shared responsibility to make it happen.
ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
MATTHEW PEACH BROADBAND FORUM THE BROAD VIEW of high-speed connectivity
T he Broadband Forum’s experience of broadband is sourced from its membership of more than 150 manufacturers and service provider companies and, over the past 24 years, the organisation has published over 200 globally adopted standards. Robin Mersh joined the Broadband Forum as Chief Operating Officer in July 2006, and was promoted to CEO in July 2010. He has worked in the telecommunications industry for over 18 years, starting at Cable & Wireless before moving on to BT. The Forum’s new “Broadband 20/20” vision is about unlocking the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies in the home, intelligent small business and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network, says Mersh. He adds, “The Forum is focused on real world deployment rather than just research and development. There is certainly R&D here but it’s much more focused on deployment. When we started the group was much more about advocacy on DSL (protocol), initially to do with controlling costs and solving the problems of deployment and having more open interfaces. RAISING STANDARDS “But it grew into addressing a lot more technical issues, such as a standard architecture, which led us to be able to have conforming products and systems and hence to interoperability including such devices as DSLAMs and CPE. It’s always the case with new technologies that the marketing becomes a more significant issue for the sector.” Considering broadband and optical fibre, Mersh believes that relationship is changing due to the development of new protocols that are reinvigorating copper networks. “Previously, I would have said that broadband and optical fibre were strongly linked but that situation has changed in the past couple of years. Video is the biggest driver but that won’t necessarily be the case for ever. “The other major factor impacting broadband is the development of new ultrafast last mile solutions; traditionally one might have expected fibre to be necessary for the last mile but is no longer necessarily the case with the development of technologies such as Gfast, which is really designed to be a fibre network extender. The idea for anybody deploying Gfast is to make ultrafast last mile deployment more affordable.
Delivering better broadband, closer to the customer is a delicate balance of medium, whether optical or copper, and transport protocols. Matthew Peach interviews Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum.
“At the same time, we have also seen FTTx solutions being developed a lot quicker; some operators are talking about FTTc being the optimal way to deploy last mille broadband; in this case fibre will certainly the critical medium. Another hot topic at the moment is the implications of the 5G standard. The need for more bandwidth is pushing this and it is stimulating the whole next generation PON discussion.” Asked to consider gaps in the network developer’s toolbox, Mersh thinks and replies, “there still isn’t yet a complete end-to-end fibre architecture that is completely interoperable. And there is also pressure from consumers and regulators for the operators to move towards a more standardised architectural model.” FTTH “One of the major issues around FTTH is making the connection over the last few metres at the highest speed while still remaining economical,” says Mersh. “This section of the network is usually also the problem area for getting access to enable deployment.” “Considering Gfast, if there is already a copper network in a given area then Gfast could be an effective alternative to last-mile fibre; ultimately because there’s less disruption at the last few meters, it’s more cost-effective without reduced performance.” Gfast is being deployed enthusiastically by nbn, Australia’s National Broadband Network, and in some areas by BT in the UK, which has stated that it will reach 12 million homes by 2020. The Broadband Forum is working work on the software side of Gfast, to develop an open access management platform. NEW DEVELOPMENTS Just ahead of Broadband World Forum 2017 the Broadband Forum announced that it was launching two Open Broadband projects and it published its “virtual Business Gateway standard”. The first standard for distributed virtualised Customer Premises Equipment
Broadband Forum CEO, Robin Mersh
(vCPE) was published by the Broadband Forum as it continues to accelerate its work on Open Broadband, Cloud Central Office (CO) and SD-WAN. The virtual Business Gateway (vBG) (TR- 328) accelerates the delivery of new- generation standardised, carrier-class, interoperable business services such as enterprise class firewall and Wide Area Network optimisation. “As operators look to transform their networks with greater use of software and virtualisation, demand for solutions, such as the vBG and CloudCO, with these associated reference implementations and API’s is growing – the market is now ready for standards-based software deliverables for Open Broadband,” says Mersh. The vBG system enables greater efficiency in service provider networks by virtualising some of the functionality of a Business Gateway into a flexible hosting environment, which may be located at the customer premises, in the operator’s network, such as a CloudCO, or using a combination of the two. The second key project is Broadband Access Abstraction Open Source, which addresses the requirements, architecture, design, and software required to support the virtualisation of access device functionality and enabling an open and interoperable unified management interface for access equipment from different vendors.
| ISSUE 11 | Q4 2017
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