Three 5G Fiber Trends to Keep an Eye On

Telecom Tech Outlook | Friday, July 31, 2020

Decoding 5G fiber trends is of utmost importance in this ever-evolving epoch of technology. It is a make or break situation for telecom enterprises

FREMONT, CA: Fiber is the key to the future 5G systems as well as LTE; the service providers are working at their best to increase their options. Some of the fiber trends to watch out for:

Residential and Enterprise Fiber Access is Going Uphill: 

SNL Kagan reported earlier this year that the global fiber residential investment had peaked sharply in 2016, and the fiber industry is all set to attain 1 billion subscribers by 2021. Meanwhile, Vertical Systems Group mentioned in a report that 49.6 percent of multi-tenant and company buildings had access to fiber in 2018, compared with 10 percent in 2004

Over the next 5-7 years, Deloitte foresees that an investment of $130 to $150 billion will be generated in the U.S. alone, primarily due to the projected plans such as an increase in the broadband competitions, guaranteed readiness of 5G and the widening of fiber into newer areas.

Fiber Investments are a Significant Focus of Telecom Operators:

Verizon has spent much of 2017 boosting the fiber access as a part of its One Fiber initiative. The carrier invested $1.8 billion in the XO Communications’ fiber assets, and then followed up with fiber supply deals that Corning ($1.05 billion over three years) and Prysmian ($300 million over three years). CenturyLink’s fiber network has approximately 200,000 route miles after it recently acquired a $34 billion acquisition of Level 3. This has increased the value of the stocks, while national and international fiber deals get plastered all over the markets.

Crown Castle acquired Los Angeles-based fiber and data center service provider Wilcon for $600 million. Plans are made to use its fiber infrastructure for metropolitan small cell deployments. Extended Systems, after its acquisition of Manhattan-based fiber provider MetroFiber, did business as Axiom Fiber Networks for an undisclosed amount.

Challenges to Fiber Deployment Include the Choice of Network Architecture for Densification and Proper Installation: 

Regardless of how much money is spent, practical issues still persist, challenging the fiber deployment and underscore the need for informed consideration of emerging network architectures during the transition from LTE to 5G. According to Yvon Rouault, technology advisor in the office of the CTO at test company EXFO, the issues lie particularly in network strength and the increase in the speed.

Complexity is also the rollout of access and not only limited to the architecture planning, says Rouault. The systems designed for ten Gbps speeds, with commensurate bit error range, undergo struggles to comprehend and deal with the radical increases in speed. One instance associated to the same was mentioned by an EXFO customer who was converting from 10 Gbps along with an exceptional BER to 100 Gbps, noticed that once an increase in speed was noted, the signal had dropped. The network connection was essentially heating the transmitter, and the receiver didn't detect anything. 

The optical fiber installation is already a problematic setup, with improper maintenance of the connector or usage of fiber whose quality is untested and undetected until a problem occurs later. Many workers have no idea what they are doing, and the fiber is just like any other electrical cable for them. 

Similar issues were met with by one of the U.K. operators who mentioned that he had to go back and do over almost a quarter of the new cell sites, causing a delay in the launch of LTE-advanced for several months. This problem was mainly due to the fiber issues that weren't known or discovered until the deployment process was over. Certain circumstances like these, especially delays, force an impact on both the expenses and the time duration on the market. It is apparent now that guaranteed availability of fiber deployment will hardly turn out to be successful the first time, specifically for the rollout of ultra-dense 5G. 

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