How FTTx rollout can help local employment

Last week, Comsof attended the annual FTTx Council Africa Conference in Durban, South-Africa. It proved to be an interesting week with lots of new insights: FTTx network rollout could be a boost for local employment, and our CEO Raf presented his vision on the co-existence of 5G and fiber.

South-Africa is Africa’s front runner in the deployment of FTTx networks. Almost one million homes are already passed, of which more than 280.000 are connected (status March 2018). The authorities realize that superfast internet is a utility and not a luxury, so it’s the government’s goal to provide this service to as many people as possible.

“During our talks at the conference, it became apparent that local job creation in the deployment of fiber optic networks is important to the government”, explains Raf Meersman, CEO of Comsof. “This is good news, as everything starts with reliable street and infrastructure info to create future proof network designs. Who can screen their area better than local people who know every corner, every street and building? Their valuable input could be the foundation for our software to generate realistic network designs. This would be a fruitful partnership as we create a win-win: better data for better networks and activating the local workforce.”

What 5G really means for the fiber industry

Another hot topic was 5G. There is currently great debate about the densification of wireless cells for 5G, and the unavoidable need for fiber networks to connect these 5G cell-sites with the backbone networks. 5G’s network performance goals rely heavily on the availability of fiber, and lots of it.

fttx council africa

As Project Manager of the FTTH Council Global Alliance (FCGA) project 2018, Raf explained what the role of fiber is in making 5G a success, and how Comsof is investigating the true value of convergence of fiber networks for 5G and FTTH. Results of this project are expected by the end of 2018 and will be published via FTTH Council Europe.

As he received many questions on the co-existence of these two technologies, he elaborated on this on LinkedIn: “I believe 5G and FTTH will co-exist. Mainly because a 5G site would still be shared typically by multiple users, it would be a shared medium. So, it wouldn’t deliver the same level of warranty on bandwidth and latency as a fixed dedicated connection. I also wonder if operators would be willing to eliminate the typical data limits on mobile data. What to do with a family wanting to watch three Netflix streams in parallel and consuming tens of gigabytes of data per day?”

“I do think there may be a difference in the rollout timeline of a 5G and FTTH network. It makes sense for an operator to rollout a 5G network first in a ‘blank’ area, as his coverage will be larger in a shorter amount of time. However, for the study for the FTTH Council Europe, we at Comsof are evaluating whether it makes sense to consider the future extension to FTTH from the start. This way, you can limit extra investment for FTTH rollout.”

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