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Post written by:

Jean-Luc Lemmens

Telecom Business Unit Director

The outbreak of pandemic has led to an inevitable surge in the use of digital technologies and placed broadband networks as an key enabler for various digital applications in home, including teleconference, online education, 4K / 8K ultra-high definition video, VR / AR games, etc. Since then the typical requirements of the connected home have evolved. An 8K video stream requires at least 150 Mbps of bandwidth, which is four times more than 4K. Applications such as live streaming, online classes, and live streaming require very low latency, typically 50 milliseconds or less. In addition, home broadband connections need to be capable of supporting multi-service concurrent scenarios. High-quality Internet has become an indispensable part of people's lives, work, and entertainment. Fiber optic cable is the most preferred transmission medium in networks for its superior bandwidth, faster speed, and enhanced reliability. Fiber to the room (FTTR), which extends fiber connectivity from the "last mile" to the "last meter", offers customers a premium full fiber connection, enabling to meet network requirements of various home applications.

Gigabit broadband connection has become to a broad consensus.  Home Broadband is moving from the entertainment center to the multifunctional center

Since the outbreak of pandemic, operators face increasing demands for the high speed of connections. Many operators around the world has released gigabit broadband services, which promise to deliver download speeds above 1 Gbps. At the same time, there is a broad consensus among global policymakers that high-speed broadband is essential to booster economic growth. EU and Asian countries governments have sets super-fast broadband targets.

The experience quality of broadband networks has become more critical than ever. High quality of entertainment contents such as such as 4K/8K, online gaming and VR/AR are gaining popularity in home. The outbreak of pandemic accelerate adoption of remote work. Smart homes devices are also gaining traction globally.  Home Broadband is moving from the entertainment center to the multifunctional center. High speed broadband is a major prerequisite for enjoyment of high quality of entertainment content, access to companies’ resources through clouds and supports a variety of smart home devices.

Fiber is a key enabler to deliver fast speed internet connections. According to IDATE, as of December 2021, there were 773 million FTTx subscribers worldwide. According to our forecasts, there should be 973 million in 2025. FTTH promises connection speeds of up to 1000 Mbps, 20 to 100 times faster than a typical cable modem or DSL connection.

Wi-Fi technology remain the preferred technology for in-door usage. Wi-Fi 6 , 802.11ax, the latest standard of Wi-Fi network, promises faster throughput speeds, better battery life, and  increased support for several high-bandwidth devices, like smart home devices.

Enhanced digital Service drive the home broadband requirements, traditional Wi-Fi Solution face 3 challenges:  Poor experience, High OAM cost, Inconsistent W-Fi coverage

As home broadband become to a multi-service center and need to support various smart home devices. Traditional Wi-Fi technology is beginning to show its age and is no longer able to meet the requirements of new digital service network. Data-heavy applications and smart devices put a strain on traditional Wi-Fi technology, and it is no longer able to handle the load. This results in poor connections, slow speeds and frequent dropouts.

Home Broadband is moving from the entertainment center to the multifunctional center, stimulating explosive growth of data traffic in operator networks and posing great challenges to existing home networks. Key problems include insufficient network bandwidth causing poor user experience, high OAM cost: and Inconsistent W-Fi coverage,

  • Poor experience: Since traditional Wi-Fi technology has not enough bandwidth to hand a number of devices, most Wi-Fi networks do not exceed 100 Mbps, compared to FTTH speeds of more than 500 Mbps and cable/Wi-Fi speeds of 100 Mbps. Many Wi-Fi users experience poor connectivity and slow speeds during peak hours. In fact, poor Wireless poor experience complaints made up 60% of Issues.
  • High OAM cost: Wi-Fi network status mainly relies on displays to passively indicate the network status. Wi-Fi networks are difficult to manage, which makes resolving connectivity issues with Wi-Fi networks difficult. Certain Wi-Fi connectivity issues may difficult to be localized and fixed. In some cases, it is necessary to contact the service provider to fix issues on-site. However, relying on on-site repairing service is usually very time-consuming and expensive.
  • Inconsistent W-Fi coverage: Most home networks function with a single Wi-Fi access point, each access point with limits coverage from dozens of meters. However, various obstacles (walls, ceilings, furniture, glasses, etc.) located between Wi-Fi devices may partially or significantly attenuate Wi-Fi signal, leading inconsistent Wi-Fi coverage in home. 55% of complaints is related to insufficient Wi-Fi coverage.

What is FTTR ?
FTTR, fiber to the room, extend fiber connection to every room to provide ubiquitous gigabit wireless access. FTTR is the next step of FTTH solution. In FTTR architecture, a FTTR main modem is connected by optical fiber to multiple edge FTTR devices placed in different locations. Both Master and slave FTTR units can provide Wi-Fi 6 access so that each corner of house can reach gigabit speed access. Mobile apps is used to facilitate the monitoring, maintenance, and management of the entire network.

FTTR for Home solution

Compared to traditional FTTH technologies, FTTR show various advantages:

  • Enhanced network speed and guaranteed in-door network coverage: : by leveraging fiber and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, FTTR promise to delivery up to more than 1 Gbps internet speeds with roaming latency of less than 20ms. The technology also can provide sufficient bandwidth to connect up to support 16 Wi-Fi access points and 128 smart devices terminals online. Compared to traditional FTTH based Wi-Fi network with average internet speed around 100 mbps, FTTR can increase the connection speed by 90%, achieving full house Gigabit Wi-Fi coverage.
  • Intelligent planning, acceptance & maintenance: Implementation, acceptance, and maintenance of FTTR solutions can be entirely managed through a mobile application, which can be used to simulate the deployment of master and slave FTTR equipment, as well as support network topology and speed acceptance tests. Furthermore, operators can use the mobile application to get alerts, and to locate and troubleshoot abnormal problems remotely, making maintenance visits less frequent.
  • Easy installation and greener solution: fiber is easy to deploy in house because of the lightweight and small diameter of optical fiber cable. On average, it takes only 30 minutes to complete a hotspot deployment. Additionally, FTTR is also a “greener” solution, reducing energy consumption by 30% compare to cable connection, enabled by the low loss of optical fiber

FTTR redefining High Quality of Digital Home Life

FTTR technologies, combining with latest Wi-Fi 6, redefine high quality of digital home Life and enable to support multi-service concurrency scenario, paving the way for next-generation immersive life experiences.

  • Quality of service: FTTR use network cable to extend fiber connection to each room.  Fiber serves as a backhaul link for supporting multiple Wi-Fi 6 access points. The combination of the two technologies promise to delivery up to more than 1 Gbps internet speeds with roaming latency of less than 20ms. Compared to traditional Wi-Fi network with average internet speed around 100 mbps and roaming latency of 30 ms, FTTR can increase the connection speed by 90% and reduce latency by 30%, achieving full house Gigabit Wi-Fi coverage.
  • Environmental benefits: Compared to conventional fixed broadband access technologies, FTTR is based on passive fiber component, enabling reduce 30% energy consumption than cable. Furthermore, because of the super-flexible physical feature of fiber, the solution is easy to install and deploy. The rollout of FTTR indoor can deliver higher speed and more reliable internet connection while making the internet connection more environmental-friendly to help operators to achieve carbon-neutral target.

FTTR solution help telco players to increase the competitive advantages

For operators, FTTR will be a robust technology to realize differentiated for its premium quality of network services, and enhance ARPU value of users and reduce churn.

  • Higher ARPU: FTTR promise a superior in-house Wi-Fi network experience with guaranteed speed and coverage. FTTR could become a new source of growth for operators’ home broadband revenue. For instance, based on number of Wi-Fi access points and house type, Operators can offer in-door Wi-Fi network plans with tiered coverage and speed.  Consequently, higher Wi-Fi speeds and better in-door coverage plan would be more expensive. Operators could use FTTR to tap customers who are willing to pay premium prices for a premium usage experience to enhance ARPU. On average, China Telecom charges 30% more for additional FTTR edge devices.
  • Low churn: FTTR solutions can provide full-house Wi-Fi coverage, which improves user experience and customer satisfaction. Higher customer satisfaction tends to lead to improved customer retention and lower churn.

Deployment of FTTR in different situations requires distinct approaches

FTTR deployment requires a well-designed in advance. The deployment approach will be different for the green field building and the brownfield building. In a greenfield situation, operators need to negotiate with building owners regarding the layout of fiber in the first time. In brownfield buildings, operators must consider how to facilitate fiber deployment in each room of one house.

FTTR deployment gain early commercial success in China 

After its launch in September 2021, FTTR quickly attracted the attention of many Chinese operators, showing a strong growth trend. By April 2022, 65 cities operators published FTTR commercial packages. According to the experience in China, customer are more likely to purchase FTTR package with one or two slave FTTR devices, representing over 80% of total FTTR subscribers.  Furthermore, some other operators around the world have also launched the pilot programs of FTTR solution.

Market Forecast: number of worldwide FTTR home users by 2025

FTTR Home user’s take-up trends will be higher in countries or in areas of countries in which fiber connection or FTTH has a good level of coverage. At the first phase, the new connection technologies will be installed in some new residential buildings across the world. The take-up rate will be higher in the countries of APAC region with a high level of FTTH coverage than other regions. With the progress the technology and the mature of standardization of the technology, FTTR will reach more and more residences and business around the world to continuously help operators develop premium broadband services. According to IDATE estimation, global FTTR subscribers will reached 22 million by the end of 2025.

Worldwide FTTR households’ deployments (Millions)