Fiber is already the solution to support demand from today’s and tomorrow’s networks (as we outlined in our previous post). But what is fiber network convergence and what advantages can it offer?
The need to increase bandwidth is growing exponentially – driven by 5G, cloud, IoT, mobile computing, HD video, and other bandwidth-hungry applications. There has been a global upsurge of fiber usage as this is the primary technology that will support the applications of today and tomorrow – fiber’s very high bandwidth makes it possible to transport huge volumes of data with low latency.
Network convergence is the use of multiple communication modes on a single network and is primarily driven by the development of enabling technologies and the need for greater efficiencies. Large service providers with both wireline and wireless operations are moving towards a single network in order to maximize asset utilization and leverage economies of scale; convergence allows smaller providers to address multiple market segments, add revenue streams, and de-risk the business case with more stakeholders, more sources of funding, and greater ROI.
Service providers are able to deliver a wider, more innovative range of services, and even enter new markets faster, through fiber network convergence. In simple terms, network convergence ultimately means developing one build-out that can be leveraged for multiple service delivery platforms.
As small cells are moving deeper into the network and CRAN (centralized RAN) allows for the polling of baseband resources, the sharing of fiber cables and physical real estate becomes more important. Instead of having to lay fiber multiple times, converged networks make use of a single fiber network. Thus, service providers will no longer build a new FTTH network and then have to dig up the same street a few weeks later in order to lay fiber for a cell site.
Additional efficiencies are gained for companies willing to share fibers for multiple applications. In addition, WDMs, NGPON2 and other technologies are allowing the merging of bit streams and enhanced network efficiency. Spare capacity can be marketed as “virtual dark fiber”, or wavelength services, which are less costly and faster to deploy.
The trends towards SDN/NFV also allow network operators to share processing and management of the network regardless of the end application.
As we continue to evolve into a digital society, fiber network convergence will help enable digital transformation and deliver future prosperity. The trend towards the convergence of different types of network and functionalities onto a single network also promises increased efficiencies and, as multiple services are delivered over a single network, reliability becomes paramount, with quality and standardization playing an increasingly critical role.
You can learn more about FTTX considerations here.