“They are actually going to be providing the access technology that enables a lot of this 5G network,” explains Teresa McGaughey, Sr. Director, Product Marketing for Calix. Speaking at the 2019 NTCA Business and Technology conference, McGaughey provides an overview of her talk on what she terms the alphabet soup of acronyms that encompass emerging wireless and fiber technologies.
At the forefront of everyone’s mind, these days is 5G and McGaughey stresses that the 5G will need lots of antennas; as close as 150 meters in dense environments. For rural environments, where the wireless carriers don’t necessarily have facilities, operators and their existing facilities will be central to this next-generation wireless rollout.
And fiber as a backbone for the wireless small cells will be the common thread, whether in rural or urban areas. She points out that the economics of Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) versus wireless isn’t clear cut, particularly with rural deployments, where FTTH may be a lower-cost option.
Increasingly, the fiber will be a metaphorical telecommunications mall, where multiple services (tenants) reside in the same fiber (mall). She talks about one of the more exciting technology enhancements that will make this co-existence of disparate services on a single last-mile fiber possible; NG-PON2.
She indicates that this year the focus is on putting the NG-PON2 infrastructure in place and predicts that the deployment of premise equipment will take-off in 2020 and beyond. Fortunately, NG-PON2 is backward compatible with existing GPON networks.
And forward-compatibility, aka futureproofing, is always a huge challenge for operators, given evolving standards, new technologies, and changing customer demands. Her advice is to build “Networks based on platforms that can really hide that noise underneath. So, all those new technologies; hide that underneath and have a common infrastructure up above.” To do this she recommends using software, which can adapt faster than hardware, to define the access network.