The 5G future is brighter with fibre
5G is quickly becoming a reality that will deeply impact our everyday lives. Considered by some to be more than just the next generation of mobile technology – it has the potential to change industries, businesses and the very way we interact with digital content.
However, while the benefits of 5G can support a new generation of use cases at massive scale, it does come with a few strings attached — and they are mostly the fibre type. The 5G experience, whether in the home or on the go, can only be achieved through fibre access networks, says Ana Pesovic, marketing director at Nokia.
5G on the move
Consumers expect an entirely new quality of experience from the next generation of 5G mobile services: higher speeds, higher reliability, everywhere-coverage and lower latency. To meet these expectations, operators must deliver two things. First, they must deploy massive quantities of 5G small cells to densify the network, fill coverage gaps and increase bandwidth availability. Second, they must ensure that the transport network serving these cells can carry the traffic deeper in the networks. And that requires fibre all the way to the cell.
By using existing fibre access networks, operators will be able to meet the cost and time-to-market requirements of 5G deployments and avoid investment in a dedicated transport infrastructure. Fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks match the expected 5G small cell footprint and tick all the boxes for efficient mobile transport in terms of performance, economics and scale.
5G in the home
For consumers at home, fixed access will complement mobile access in massive scale 5G networks, offering a more cohesive broadband experience than each could do alone. The synergy brings two main benefits: increased reach and a better experience.
For example, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) (deep fibre and wireless in the last mile) will get Gigabit broadband services to more people, more quickly and more cost-efficiently, by enabling operators to use existing mobile assets and avoid digging fibre all the way to the home.
Fixed access also enriches the mobile experience at home. Most devices switch to Wi-Fi inside the home. Wi-Fi is essentially fixed connectivity because it offloads traffic onto the fixed network at the entry-point of the home. This is a great complement to 5G for delivering Gigabit to every corner of the home without restrictions caused by mobile data caps or signal strength.
5G at work
The revolutionary goals of 5G will have the greatest impact on the industry.
Digitalisation is growing fast and future investments across industries will be driven by advanced services that rely on 5G. This is extremely important for operators as it creates new opportunities to offset flat(ish) revenues from mobile services. Real-time automation, autonomous robotics, monitoring, tracking, sensing, smart surveillance and simply connecting everything and everyone will require 5G and optical fibre infrastructure within the business premises.
Fibre access deployed for residential areas can easily be used to form a huge pipe that will carry traffic from the office campus or industrial site to the network. And then fibre can be extended within the campus to connect small cells, Wi-Fi access points, PCs, cameras and other devices.
A fibre future
Fibre access is evolving so it can effectively support and compliment 5G. Network upgrades to 10 Gb/s fibre technologies have begun, enabling the speeds needed for mobile anyhaul, enterprises and even residential services. New approaches, like using multi-PON technology, make upgrades easier by allowing current and next generation PON services to work side-by-side, making for a more graceful incremental migration in line with an operator’s business needs. The industry has even begun looking at what comes after next-generation PON. 25G PON is the favored candidate due to its cost-efficiency potential and fit with 25G interfaces on radio cells for mobile transport.
Virtualisation and software-defined networking provide the next step in simplifying fixed networks and making it more efficient in a multi-service, multi-technology environment. Amongst many Software-Defined Access Network (SDAN) use cases, two stand out: Network Slicing and Intent-Based Networking.
Slicing creates discrete virtual networks within a single infrastructure, each with its own performance characteristics and management. Dedicated slices can be sued for different service types (residential, enterprise, mobile transport) or for different operators sharing the same network infrastructure.
Intent Based Networking connects intelligence on the state of the network with closed-loop automation, allowing operators to define policies and then let the network self-adjust to reach a desired state. Intent-based networking is ideal for automating repetitive and dynamic processes that are a drain on service providers’ resources.
Enabling the full potential of 5G
If 5G is to truly enable a new era of connectivity the roll-out of the technology must go hand-in-hand with a strong focus on fixed infrastructure.
In particular, as new innovative services and applications continue to emerge within the home and business, the need for a fibre to be laid directly to residential and commercial premises has never been greater. This, combined with the need to use fibre backhaul for 5G, reiterates the pivotal role fibre and fixed networks will play in 5G networks reaching their full potential.
The author is Ana Pesovic, marketing director at Nokia
About the author
Ana Pesovic is marketing director, Fixed Networks, Nokia. She has more than 20 years of experience in fiber access technologies. For more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, visit: Nokia broadband anyhaul.