Access Transformation – Technology Basics

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What is the problem?

Broadband service demand is increasing exponentially. In addition, competitors are disrupting the market by introducing leapfrog offers that far exceed bandwidth demand. To meet these challenges technology is being evolved at a breakneck speed. 

In such a fluid transformation, a well managed access network technology evolution is a must for any operator.

Selecting the right technology evolution path is critical to ensure competitiveness and profitability.

Key takeaways

  • All access technology families have similar upgrade paths
  • Innovation can extend the life of a technology family
  • Deploying fiber closer to the subscriber is a common trend in all types of access networks
  • Wired and wireless hand offs are a common theme in many deployments

Executive Summary

Broadband service trends have gone through a significant evolution and there is no sign of this slowing down. In the early days of the internet all interactive applications were text based and file-sharing was considered a background task! Since then waves of innovation and application adoption have pushed subscriber demand. 

A first evolution wave hit in the 1990’s with the introduction of search engines and multi-media browsers. In the early 2000’s distributed file and content sharing dominated demand, taken over quickly in the late 2000’s by broadcast and over the top video streaming combined with the upsurge of social media. The latest connected living innovation cycle – driven by the Internet of things and real time cloud-based applications –  propels the need for both upstream and downstream bandwidth[1]. The impact of the broadband service evolution is considered the trigger for the third industrial revolution[2].

As a result, overwhelming pressure is put on a service providers access network to keep up with this steep broadband demand curve. Luckily the broadband service innovation is balanced by an equally if not faster technology innovation cycle. 

This paper focuses on the technical evolution of the access network.  It describes methodologies to evolve the capacity of an access network and how these methodologies are applied in copper, fiber and wireless networks. We will explain the similarities in transformation strategies of multiple access technology families and how to plan for an increasingly hybrid and converged access network.