FTTP: Options For the Network Operator

The Complete Guide to Fiber to the Premises Deployment (Copyright© m2fx 2014)

The socio-economic benefits of fiber are beyond question. Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) can boost economic development, spark innovation and improve the way people live and work. So why is the technology not more widely available? While it is relatively easy and cheap to deploy Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC), it is more expensive and complicated to deliver FTTP.

With FTTC, a fiber connection runs all the way from the core network through to the local exchange after which it runs into a street cabinet. From there, several connections split off from one cabinet into multiple homes. It is this last leg of the connection – termed in the industry the ‘last drop’ – that poses the greatest challenge. The cables that currently lead from the cabinet to the premise are typically copper twisted pairs or coaxial cables (in mature markets). Most operators in these markets have chosen to take the interim step of installing fiber to the cabinet and copper/coaxial to the premise because performance is good enough in the early stages, and because it makes sense for them to maximise the value of the existing (and already paid for) infrastructure. However, demand is growing for faster speeds than can be delivered through copper/coaxial, especially from businesses, which is why pressure is growing on operators to ramp up their FTTP rollouts.

According to market research firm RVA, penetration rates for FTTP projects range from a low of 20 per cent in the first few years of deployment to a high of 50 per cent when deployments are complete. The last thing an operator wants to do after installing a new fiber network is to disappoint its customer base with delays. But nor does it want to invest in expensive cable and ancillary electronic equipment like set top boxes and wireless routers if there is not sufficient demand. It is vital that operators do their due diligence and get these calculations right prior to deploying a network.

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