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14 September 2020

Huawei’s AirPON helps MNOs to build fiber networks using cell sites

Huawei has been outlining a strategy to enable operators to deploy gigabit FTTx networks based on mobile sites, in order to reduce the cost of roll-out and support fixed/mobile convergence and the optimal use of infrastructure assets.

The AirPON optical access solution was supposed to have made its debut at this year’s cancelled Mobile World Congress, but instead featured in its own virtual Huawei event last week. The solution was designed to help FTTx equipment and wireless cells to share resources such as sites, backhaul fiber and power.

This could improve the economics of fixed/mobile convergence (FMC), helping MNOs to deploy fixed and converged networks, and to support immersive services, such as next generation live broadcasting, that require very high bandwidth. AirPON is deployed at existing mobile sites, leveraging investments already made in wireless infrastructure to reduce overall cost, and it works with the new eAI ONT (optical network terminal), a CPE unit that can “intelligently identify service types”.

At the virtual event, Gary Lu, president of network marketing & solution sales, said: “AirPON greatly improves the efficiency of mobile operators when it comes to building fixed networks by reconstructing FMC planning.”

“With the growth of digital consumption habits, home broadband will become a necessity for people to work, live, study, and shop in the next 3-5 years,” he added, with a particular emphasis on interactive live TV experiences in sports and beyond.

AirPON promises a new way to build fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks to support such services, using wireless site resources. “The distance between the OLT site and end users is reduced to one-tenth,” said Lu. “Therefore, we can solve problems in traditional fiber construction such as difficulties in rights-of-way and optical cable engineering. The AirPON solution is perfectly designed for mobile carriers to build FTTH networks.”

In the past, he said wireless sites have only been used to support infrastructure to bring fiber to the cabinet, but now they can go further and reach the building or home. “Leveraging wireless sites to develop fixed broadband has been proved to be a more effective way,” Lu continued, giving the example of a blade OLT sharing backhaul and power with wireless equipment mounted on a roof.

“Blade OLT will reuse the backhaul fiber and power supply of the wireless site. Blade OLT fibres will then go to residential houses or small business buildings and the optical cable distance is reduced to less than 300 meters. It is easier to deploy fiber and more quickly to obtain subscribers.”

Lu proclaimed that the return on investment (ROI) would be less than three years to achieve a positive business cycle, adding: “AirPON solves the contradiction between long term fiber strategy and short term financial profits. It has been proved that AirPON can help carriers achieve quick wins in business in both the under-developed and highly developed markets.”