Gaining an edge

With next generation broadband networks gaining ground around the world, Hilal Halaoui, principal, Booz & Co, tells CommsMEA about some of the technological challenges telecom operators face in their deployment and operation.

Tags: Booz and CompanyBroadbandFibre ChannelUnited Arab Emirates
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Gaining an edge Hilal Halaoui says governments are increasingly encouraging FTTH.
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By  Roger Field Published  October 18, 2009 Communications Middle East & Africa Logo

Has the technology behind Next generation national broadband networks (NGNbns) matured?

It seems that at this point in time on the fixed side, fibre has proven itself to be, at least for the next few years, the technology of choice.

There appears to be some stability on fixed line broadband technology and this is comforting for operators in general and this is why we are starting to see governments push in the direction of fibre more confidently.

However the main challenge that will be faced is on the access side and is related to cost. Most of the cost of deploying a network lies on the access front, reaching every house and every building and every company, in addition to the logistics that are involved with that. That is also what usually takes a lot of time to deploy.

 Who usually picks up the bill for the cost of next generation broadband networks?

Many governments are involved in next generation broadband networks from the cost side. They are trying to support the incumbent or the selected national broadband operator with the financial support to be able to deploy the fastest possible network, and to be able to set up the right consortium that will be able to execute the deployment of the network as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Do wireless technologies also have a place in NGnBNs?

Rather than governments trying to push a particular technology, they often push a particular level of service to be offered in different geographies. So they would say that in rural areas you need to have a broadband speed of 1Mbps or 2Mbps and it is up to the operator to decide on what technology to use.

Some operators might consider wireless technology as a component of NGNBNs when they do their cost benefit analysis.  In many situations where you have a lack of density, wireless can be more attractive, particularly for last mile access.

Also, wireless is no longer viewed as a narrowband technology, with UMTS you can easily offer speeds of up to 0.5Mbps or 1Mbps if you have the distributed users and you would offer this with voice as well at very convenient rates.

There is no shortage of available technology. However the best use of these technologies for different demand situations is what will allow operators to make money from them.

What challenges do operators face in terms of the actual operation of the network?

As technologies continue to expand, using the right mix becomes increasingly important for economic attractiveness. Using multiple technologies, however, also increases the complexity of the management systems or Operations Support Systems (OSS), which now have to cope with multiple access technologies (both fixed and wireless) as well as advanced services and applications such as VoD, IPTV, and IP-telephony.

OSS gives rise to certain challenges. This is an area that didn’t evolve from a technology perspective in the right way, so rather than evolving as a full architecture and in a holistic way, the evolution happened on different fronts and step-by-step. For example, while there was an improvement on the provisioning systems, some of the legacy solutions used on inventory systems remained.

Today many operators that are migrating to next generation networks have invested to revamp and rebuild their next generation OSS because now they have bigger and more advanced networks, and they all need the right tools to monitor what is happening on the network.

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