At home, we are consuming more internet bandwidth than ever before. People are adopting new technologies such as 4k and 8k video streaming, due to which  number of connected devices have increased significantly.With the rise of applications such as VR and AR, there is no indication that the hunger for bandwidth will saturate any time soon. Network planning.

In the workspace, we are also relying on internet connectivity all day long. It seems that every minute that we are offline is a minute when no work can be done. Companies are moving their data to the cloud for reliability and practical reasons, they need access to it all the time.

Even when we are on the road, we also need to be “plugged in” all the time through our smartphones. The next mobile evolution, 5G, will be able to support the growing number of connected devices and higher bandwidth requirements. These 5G antenna sites will be located closer together and will require a faster backhauling network.

Need for speed, Need for fiber!

It is obvious that there is a strong need to deploy fiber. But this is easier said than done, with each type of end point having its own technical requirements. Businesses require high reliability, to support this the operator will need to deploy a ring network with P2P technology. While residents and 5G sites could be put on a shared PON network. Typically the different fiber demand locations are spread out over the complete city: e.g. a business can be located on the ground floor of an apartment building with a 5G antenna on the roof, next to single family homes and further down the street there can be a lamppost with a small cell attached to it. There will be no clear boundary between the different networks.

Deploying a network using a single technology is already a difficult task. When you want to use different technologies it becomes even more difficult. The operator needs to make sure that enough fibers are foreseen for each location and ensure end-to-end connectivity following the right architecture. Of course, he wants to do this in the most efficient way. Using cables as efficiently as possible serving all locations. The goal should be to build a single heterogeneous network limiting the needed investment instead of building 3 separate networks using the same trenches. This shows a clear need for design automation to handle this complexity.

All at once, Cross-department network planning?

The best option is to build the complete network, serving all the different endpoints, at once. This will be the most cost effective option. Also, the regulator or city might prevent the operator from opening the street for trenching every few years. So the operator will need to build it once, or risk to limit network expansion opportunities in the future. Not thinking futureproof when deploying a fiber network can thus put a limit on the strategy of the company.

Typically an operator has one department responsible for the mobile network, one for the fixed residential customers and one for the businesses. Each of them responsible for the end-to-end infrastructure and services. But with the need for fiber for all different services, there will be a need to introduce some changes in the organisation. If you want to make the whole organisation more efficient and benefit from the cost savings of having one network then there should be only one department responsible for the fiber network. This department will collect all end point locations together with the requirements and design the network. Design automation tools can help to handle the complexity and challenging roll-out targets of the different departments.

Spare capacity, future-proof investment!

A general best practice is to build a network with spare capacity to support future expansions. There are different ways to do this: foresee additional fibers for each home, lay cables with spare capacity, bring capacity already up to the cabinet from the central office and lay ducts with vacant slots. This allows you to easily upgrade your network in the future without having to bring fibers all the way from the central office to each locations, forcing you to trench again. This way you can make an interesting offer to new businesses for a fiber connection or densify your 5G network.

From our calculations, building a futureproof network doesn’t need to be that much more expensive. On a particular case where we calculated the costs of a FTTH network foreseeing spare capacity only results in a 5 to 10% increase in network cost, depending on the equipment costs and the amount of spare capacity that was foreseen. This small additional deployment costs will pay back itself in the future when you need to expand you network as you will have multiple points in the network where you have fiber capacity available, close to potential new businesses, residential customers or 5G hotspots.                                                                              Network planning

Case study

At Broadband World Forum 2017 we presented a case study on network convergence using an area in Berlin. To start with we selected an area of 1800 residential buildings, 200 business and 4G and 5G sites. We used FiberPlanIT to compare the cost of deploying separate networks. Each with their own architectural requirements versus deploying a converged network. We also investigate the cost impact of designing with spare capacity on different levels of the network. The presentation and the findings can be found on Slideshare.                                     Network planning

Network planning

The need for fiber is clear. In order to handle the complexity and roll-out efficiently, the operator will need to think futureproof, adapt and adopt the right tools for the job.

If you are want to know more about different GIS data sources and techniques to acquire this data. Read our blog post Fantastic GIS and where to find them.

If you have any further questions about cross-department planning or our case study, contact us today.

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