Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends.
The Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Europe released results from a new study that shows how much operators can benefit from the convergence of 5G and FTTH. The study revealed that the extra investment required to make a full fibre network 5G-ready would be between 0.4% and 7.2%. Meanwhile, the cost savings related to convergence in fibre and 5G networks can be from 65% to 96%.
While the headline results may be reminiscent of buy-more-and-save-type techniques used in consumer advertising, the study does highlight how operators can get more value from fibre network investment when it is part of a converged FTTH-5G strategy.
The cost of rolling out fibre is one of the biggest challenges facing mobile operators as they contemplate 5G network plans. 5G networks will be denser than today’s networks with smaller base stations deployed closer together to provide targeted, higher capacity coverage compared to large macrocells that cover wide areas. But the 5G base stations will require high-capacity backhaul to connect them to the core network. Fibre is the preferred choice to connect 5G base stations from a capacity perspective, but it is also the most expensive and difficult to deploy.
Lack of affordable access to fibre is particularly problematic for the UK’s mobile operators, according to a recent white paper by an infrastructure advisory firm. The company pointed out that there is a general shortage of fibre infrastructure in the UK due to the lack of regulatory incentives for FTTH buildouts.
The FTTH Council Europe’s findings may provide some comfort for UK operators’ fibre concerns, especially for those with fixed and mobile assets.
Greenfield Builds Yield Highest Cost Savings
The study looked at greenfield underground fibre network deployments in three types of scenarios: very dense, urban city centres; medium dense, suburban areas; and low dense, rural villages and these were combined with three different types of cell densities. The analysis of the various scenarios showed that the cost savings can be achieved when a converged FTTH-5G network is anticipated when planning for a FTTH network.
Erzsébet Fitori, Director General of the FTTH Council Europe said: “Planning ahead a 5G-ready FTTH network allows for considerable synergies and hence a more efficient use of investments as well as less civil works and disturbance. This also means that with a smart and future-proof FTTH deployment, the cost of fibre related to a 5G deployment can be virtually almost eliminated.”
- Useful read: What is dark fibre?
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