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The age of fiber: FTTx heralds the ultra-broadband era

IPTV, HDTV, 3D services, and video conferencing are among the applications that epitomize the new ultra-broadband era and demand great things from broadband access networks. FTTx has emerged as a high capacity, wide coverage, and low cost solution that is eco-friendly and can smoothly bear video services. Backed by mature technology, reduced costs, government support, and increasingly open policies, FTTx is the new optimum choice for operators.

Global Industry Analysts predicts that the number of FTTH/B users will reach 183.9 million by 2015, and that this upsurge will be powered by greater bandwidth demands, the growth in bundled services, and the replacement of copper with fiber.

Global trends testify to the above analysis: In the U.S., Verizon is planning to extend its FiOS service to 18 million homes with a GPON-based FTTH network. In Europe, BT has accelerated its optical network rollout, and has already begun deploying FTTH. The British giant has earmarked 1.5 billion pounds for its fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) network, with deployment scheduled for 2012. In March 2009, Deutsche Telekom (DT) announced a 3-year investment package totaling 10 billion euros in fiber optics, new mobile communications technologies and IT processes. The German operator is also seeking to increase the number of FTTH users to 4 million by 2012.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan had already passed 13 million households with FTTH by the end of 2009 to decisively lead the region’ s FTTx field. In 2006, Singapore initiated its 700–million-USD iN2015 strategy to construct a nationwide FTTH network during 2010–2012.

In the Middle East, the UAE announced that Abu Dhabi is now the world’ s first capital to be entirely wired with fiber. As a regional technology leader, Etisalat plans to construct a nationwide FTTH network by 2011. Additionally, nationwide fiber networks are currently – and rapidly – being built in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.

FTTx network construction in China began in 2007. The big three – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom – have all initiated massive FTTx deployment schemes, totaling tens of millions of lines. In 2010, China kicked off its ambitious plan to converge telecommunications, broadcasting and the Internet, which is underpinned by a 150 billion RMB (about 22 billion USD) investment to boost fiber broadband rollout over three years. Thanks to government support, FTTH construction in China sits confidently poised for large-scale inception.

However, FTTx rollout is not a cut and dried exercise in simplicity: Service providers require guaranteed fair and open network access, the networks themselves need to be rapidly deployed to be viable, and CAPEX and OPEX – as ever – have to be minimized. Etisalat, Singapore’ s Nucleus Connect and China Mobile provide us with valuable lessons from their FTTx deployment endeavors.

Source : Huawei Technologies - Communicate Magazine, Sept 2010

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