Gigabit Access: on 5G network slicing and FTTEverything

Last week, we attended the Gigabit Access conference in Cologne, Germany. We remembered three key messages from this event: 5G network slicing has great value, make a dedicated choice to stop using copper, and every area has its specific needs, so choose your architecture wisely.

5G network slicing: an interesting business opportunity

An interesting aspect of 5G technology is the possibility of network slicing, which was not possible with 4G. Network slicing gives operators the option to allocate portions of their network to specific user cases. For connected cars for example, smart homes and factories, or the smart energy grid. Every use case gets their own set of required specifications, such as connectivity, speed, and capacity.

In other words, network slicing lets you create multiple virtual networks within the physical infrastructure. And since the revenue from mobile subscriptions is declining, 5G opens up a new revenue stream: operators can target big industry players as customers.

For instance, an autonomous car will rely on V2X or vehicle-to-anything communication. This requires low latency, but not a high throughput. If you are watching a streaming service while the car is driving, you will need a high throughput, this service is also vulnerable to latency. It is possible to deliver both services over the same common physical network, on different virtual network slices.

5G network slicing
Source: International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

Make a dedicated decision to cut off copper and go for fiber

It is a discussion we have heard many times over. Do not deploy a fiber optic network and then offer copper network speeds. Having gigabit speeds is important for future technologies such as AI and IoT. Customers and businesses will demand a quality service.

Dare to replace your old copper infrastructure with futureproof fiber. And offer fiber speed packages to your customers. Your customers have the right to use the full highway you installed. They will not settle for one lane and 100 Mbps speeds.

Of course, you need to have a positive business case. There are different technologies available which offer gigabit speeds today, but fiber to the home should be the preferred technology. G.Fast, Docsis 3.1, 5G FWA can all be part of your toolbox, and smart operators choose the best technology that fits their business case in each geographic area that they serve.

Do take into account all costs when choosing a technology. Old copper networks have high maintenance costs and having active equipment in the field also influences the OPEX.

But anytime extra fiber is required, to shorten the copper loop, for example, to bring fiber deeper in a coax network or to densify the wireless network, the operator should think future proof and plan additional fibers to support FTTH in the long run.

Lastly, building a network is a specialty, it is a craft. It is important to train the engineers who are going to plan, design, build and maintain this network. And inform your clients what the added value of gigabit speeds can do for their lives and businesses.

Fiber to the Everything: the right architecture for every area

A fiber-optic network is by far the most futureproof solution to cope with present and future bandwidth demands. This was the message of our CEO Raf Meersman at Gigabit Access. But there are so many architectures, and as every area and budget is different, every community deserves the most optimal solution.

Source: Comsof presentation at Gigabit Access 2019

That is where automated software such as Comsof Fiber can be of assistance. This GIS-based planning and design tool can cope with almost every topology. Does your area have a quality copper or coaxial network and other infrastructure you wish to (partly) reuse? Are you going to start deploying a 5G network or will you rollout an FTTH and FTTB network? Do you wish to rollout a GPON or a P2P network? Is the area rural, or urban? Or do you want to combine different architectures?

Comsof Fiber is the only real fiber to the everything planning and design software that can cope with these challenges.