A few months ago, IDATE published its last World FTTx markets dataset with a worldwide analysis at June 2019. More than 80 national markets have been analyzed.
FTTH/B is still the leading superfast broadband solution, far ahead of FTTx/DOCSIS3.0, followed by VDSL. Indeed, 73% of FTTx subscriptions worldwide are to FTTH/B lines as of June 2019. Growth of FTTH/B subscriptions will continue until 2023.
Growth of FTTH/B subscriptions, 2015-2023 (million and %)Source: IDATE DigiWorld, World FTTx markets, January 2020
IDATE also pointed out where the growth should happen in the future concerning FTTH markets. These markets will display strong growth in nearly all the regions of the world. The potential for growth will be in emerging markets such as India and South East Asia (Bangladesh, Viet Nam, Pakistan, Cambodia…), but also in the MENA region (Egypt and Saudi Arabia). Europe will also display a large potential in the UK, Germany and Italy. The LATAM region with Mexico, Argentina and Brazil is also a candidate for growth. In addition, countries like Peru and Bolivia have experienced strong growth, increasing their homes passed by more than 89% in one year.
Finally and in the longer run, Sub Saharan Africa is a reservoir for FTTH. Indeed, in Africa, up to 17 countries are involved in native FTTH rollouts.
It is clear that all optical transformation has become an industry consensus. We have noticed for this purpose that ETSI recently launched a new group called F5G ISG to accelerate all optical processes.
Nevertheless, challenges remain for ODN construction such as complicated network planning and design but also construction challenges linked to traditional solutions resulting in high cost and low efficiency and emphasized by lack of skilled workers. Difficulties in ODN resources management are also pointed out by telcos.
Let us focus on the LATAM region, where IDATE is conducting yearly LATAM FTTH Panorama for the Fiber Broadband Association (LATAM Chapter). FTTH expansion has been accelerated in the region since the deployment of FTTH ODN networks by aerial means. Indeed, at end 2018, we estimated that 70% of FTTH rollouts are done under aerial infrastructures (existing and new poles). This choice is done as it is less costly and fast to implement.
In the early stages of FTTH deployments in LATAM, splicing was largely used by some players in Chile or in Colombia. However, the trend is now moving towards preconnectorized solutions, as it helps to reduce time, costs (technician interventions) and failure during the installation process. It is also making the inventory process easy in order to upgrade or to adapt the network.
That is why to solve these key challenges, future-proof ODN deployment is key. Accurate ODN engineering will avoid outages concerning up to 10% of installed bases in certain cases (this represent a major challenge in terms of TCO for certain telcos). Appropriate ODN will allow easy evolutions of the fiber networks for connecting new housing and enterprises. This will also allow to take advantage of installed FTTH networks to deploy F5G faster.
New technologies improve efficiency in fiber deployment and management
Innovative solutions featuring these latest technological improvements could help solve technical and operational issues related to ODN construction
Today, ODN planner need accurate costs, not only for deploying the network, but also for activating subscribers and maintaining the network during its lifetime, as well as some realistic predictions for subscriber adoption of services and related revenues. It is important to base the cost analysis on real local data, as there can be major differences between the different geographical areas – even those with similar population densities. Extrapolations and benchmarking should be avoided where possible. ODN tools should help telcos to locate the best value areas, design optimum paths, and efficiently integrate deployment to help them achieve their business goals.
Nowadays new industrial technologies and solutions are available in order to provide excellent network planning, whole network pre-connection products and solutions, while supporting the development of multiple businesses such as households and enterprises.
Here, identified challenges for FTTH networks can find solutions for their future ODN deployments that will be also digitalized. Recommendations for FTTH operators in order to solve those identified challenges are
- To deploy more efficiently new FTTH networks and at lower TCO,
- The importance of precise monitoring for an evolving FTTH network to F5G era.
In order to meet these requirements, “quick” and “digital” will be the key directions to offer numerous advantages.
Adopts the pre-connection technology, end-to-end plug and play guarantees a faster installation for network construction. Besides, it is possible to cascade the FAT (Fiber Access Terminal) and to do network deployment without reopening them. One European operator that displays one of the highest amounts of fiber optical sockets deployed in the world is known for its frontage deployments and using the pre-connectorise solution.
And ODN digitalization decreases the risk for human mistakes and ensures a 100% accurate resource management process. Besides, digitalization and automation enable faster service provisioning and fault recovery by decreasing the need for site visits by technicians, thus improving operational performance.
Covid-19: will it create opportunities for FTTH?
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused tremendous upheavals in how people work, which in turn has forced operators to adapt and offer effective solutions for dealing with the surge in both connections and cyberattacks. The public health crisis has been, and remains, a source of real challenges for the sector. If fibre can reduce the new digital divide caused by people’s different internet access opportunities, it cannot be deployed nationwide without government support.