Empowering a wireless world with fiber optics

Created September 4, 2019
Guest Blog

If you have followed ProLabs social media feeds over the past year, you know that we’ve been present at many service providers conferences around the world. We’ve attended and contributed to SCTE Cable-Tec EXPO, NGON, Fiber Connect, and FTTH Europe to name a few. We’ve witnessed the fiber optic world first-hand and it is in the midst of exciting times.

Across the globe, Wireline, Telco, Multiple System Operators (MSO’s), and Wireless service provider networks are each investing in next-generation technology rollouts, with great promise to deliver next-generation services. MSOs/CATV providers are rolling out Distributed Access Architectures (DAA’s), pushing digital optics closer to the subscriber. ProLabs has led the conversation about the demands of deploying SFP-type transceivers deeper into the network to support DAA’s such as RemotePHY. DAA offers the benefits of a reduced space and power footprint in the head end/hub site associated with the legacy HFC and coaxial networks.

Telco and Wireline providers are looking at next-generation PON as the next step in their network evolution. Unlike the upgrade from BPON to GPON, the migration from GPON or EPON to 10G variants will not be a forklift upgrade. Rather, these technologies can coexist on the same network with current next-generation PON variants (XG-PON, XGS-PON, 10GEPON), the near-future generation NG-PON2, and even point-to-point Ethernet services.

While Telcos and MSOs are planning and building their next big technology rollout, 5G wireless is hovering all of it. 5G brings the promise of bringing broadband services to underserved areas and enabling a new world of IoT enabled devices. In this current mobile telecommunications era where one’s world is in the palm of their hand, the reality is that the more wireless we become, the more dependent we become upon fiber and HPC cables.

Which brings us back to DAA and next-gen PON services. Why are these networks increasing data rates and pushing fiber closer and closer to the customer? Perhaps to retain current subscribers before competitive residential 5G services are widely available? Or to future proof their network against the next wave of content disruption?  The answers are yes and yes, but perhaps the reasons are more foundational. The more wireless we become, the more dependent upon fiber we will become. Hence these networks are leading a convergence of wireline and wireless.

5G wireless is the driver for not only network convergence, but the deployment of DAA and next-gen PON. 5G wireless promises data rates up to 10x current LTE services. 5G will rely upon fiber-fed small cells located closer to the subscriber. Much like next-generation PON, 5G will coexist with LTE wireless and existing broadband services. Like DAA, the economics of deploying 5G will require the deployment of digital SFP-type transceivers deeper in the network. DAA and next-gen PON networks are ideal for providing the fiber access and data rates required for 5G fronthaul and backhaul.

Technology cycles are a large reason why we find this industry exciting! The current network convergence is perhaps the most important development since the first scale of fiber-to-the-home rollouts some 15 years ago. This blog series will discuss how fiber optics will enable the wireless world of tomorrow.

By Ray Hagen, ProLabs Americas Product Manager

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This article was written
by Ray Hagen

Ray Hagen is the Americas Product Manager at ProLabs and is responsible for leading the US product portfolio and bringing new products to market. He is one of the ProLabs technology and solutions experts and leads on understanding technology and manufacturing capabilities as well as creating marketing content for ProLabs, trade media, and direct to customer channels. He is available to speak on 5G, 100G, data centres, and the benefits of compatible solutions. After graduating from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota with a masters degree in telecommunications, Ray has gained nearly 20 years’ of experience in the telecommunications, managed hosting & colocation, and high technology industries. After working in a variety of manager and account roles for 10 years at ADC, Ray became product Manager at VISI in 2008, executing business plans and developing sales support processes. He joined ProLabs in November 2015 and has gained a strong background in new product development and product application support.