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The massive demand for fibre is hardly news but the stellar growth it has enjoyed (13% between 2018 and 2019, according to the OECD), has received new impetus recently, thanks to several key factors. However, there are challenges ahead that may limit returns and disappoint investors. In this feature article, director of international business development at Cross NI Peter Kern explores the reasons for the upsurge of interest in fibre, explains key challenges the industry faces in delivering fibre efficiently – and provides case studies that highlight an optimised, agile approach.

S o, what’s behind the new momentum? Several key reasons. First, while fibre deployment has long been an objective for service providers, national governments and regional authorities, the importance of increased fibre access has been thrown into the spotlight by the COVID-19 pandemic. The lines between home and office have blurred, leading to a more distributed workforce that needs

EFFECTIVE ROLLOUT, MANAGEMENT AND EXTENSION So, network and social evolution are driving increased fibre deployment – but there’s a big issue to solve. How do operators manage their fibre rollouts, ensure effective operations and agile business and service delivery? The simple truth is that many operators are hampered in their efforts to do so by outdated and disconnected systems. Operators depend on their Operational and Business Support Systems (OSS and BSS) to ensure that their businesses can function. The OSS and BSS underpins all aspects of their business – building

previous generations of mobile radio technology. To maintain this performance, the radio network must be connected to the core via fibre. 5G performance in the RAN cannot be limited or held back by bottlenecks in the increasingly complicated ‘x’ haul domain – front, back and mid haul – which joins together the different domains of a 5G network. Finally, operators everywhere are gearing up for a massive increase in the number of connected devices. While many of these will connect via 4G or 4G-like technologies, many more will require 5G – in turn, driving surging traffic, for which fibre is required.

more high-speed connectivity. Second, fibre is integral to the

deployment of 5G. 5G radio provides excellent performance, but within a relatively small area when compared to




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