Helge Tiainen, Head of Marketing, Sales and Product Management at InCoax
Every residential and Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) building has a TV or satellite receiving coaxial network and in some European countries it is legal requirement that the building owner must provide TV receiving capabilities to each apartment, called Must Carry Public Service. These TV receiving networks have been upgraded to support higher frequency spectrums due to the analogue switchover to digital TV services.
For fixed line operators, signing a broadband contract with a Single-Family Unit (SFU) is a much easier process. MDUs involve building and apartment owners, and numerous tenants. According to housing statistics from Eurostat, the EU average for the population living in MDUs is 70% and the challenge remains for operators looking to connect residents with unfailing and dependable connectivity.
The onus for in-building fiber is on the MDU owner or the operator that has to pay the fiber installation. Fiber-To-The Home (FTTH) deployments are the goal for fixed line operators to provide Gigabit and MultiGigabit services. However, the installation of fiber broadband to multiple households is a far from straightforward process and it can be expensive and labor-intensive to install fiber direct to the apartments. With the costs of fiber deployments in MDUs being as much as 40% of Fiber-To-The-Building (FTTB) deployment costs, it can be a very costly venture.
With the global pandemic fueling a huge growth in demand for instantaneous connectivity in MDUs, reusing in-building infrastructure for broadband access can combat the connectivity complexities that operators face. Tasked with pushing fiber deeper into the network, operators can reuse the existing infrastructure as a coaxial network to garner MultiGigabit speeds that residents and businesses require.
Re-using G.fast over copper phone lines is an alternative but this is dependent on the line’s performance, which can vary from as low as 100Mbps up to 1Gbps as testified by a number of operators. With this variance in speed, G.fast does not offer operators a consistent data rate and it can be problematic to sell these high-speed services.
By utilizing the coaxial network, operators have an alternative to support a higher, consistent frequency range and provide Gigabit and MultiGigabit services effectively. In competition with cable-TV service providers that are offering DOCSIS, operators have been deploying Gfast technology over Point-To-Point (P2P) coaxial networks where such networks are readily available.
P2P coaxial network topology has its roots in pay-tv systems when previously it was required to have a P2P connection. This topology is commonly deployed in North America covering up to 90% of the MDU coaxial networks. In Europe for example, Germany has P2P topology in more than half of MDU buildings and Italy have both terrestrial and satellite networks. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that coaxial networks are available for both cable-TV providers and fixed line operators to utilize and provide high-speed services.
Broadband Forum’s recent publication TR-419 defines fiber access extension technology over existing coaxial infrastructure and addresses existing use cases with Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA®) Access technology to extend the fiber services. This is based on its existing report, TR-301 which defines functionality for the Distribution Point Unit (DPU). An existing integrated part of the broadband access network, the fiber access extension establishes the link between the Optical Line Terminal (OLT) port and customers’ Residential Gateway.
A connection is subsequently established between the Residential Gateway and an operator’s Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) to receive the customer’s subscribed broadband services. The MoCA Access DPU has an Optical Network Unit (ONU) functionality which is managed by ONU Management Control Interface (OMCI), configuration and statistics is also managed over NETCONF /YANG. The MoCA Access Network Controller establishes and maintains the fiber access extension link to MoCA Coax Network Terminal which can be an integrated part of the Residential Gateway and collects traffic statistics which is subsequently reported to operators’ management system.
InCoax’s fiber extension technology based on the MoCA standard over P2P coaxial networks can provide MultiGigabit services for subscribers. This cost-effective option reduces complexity and installation times by utilizing existing infrastructure to the benefit of tenants, MDU owners and fixed line operators.