In the world of connectivity, it’s essential to recognize the complementary nature of different technologies rather than pit them against each other. When it comes to high-speed internet access. There are several options but I’m going to focus on Fiber to the Home (FTTH) and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). They can work together to create a robust and inclusive network. Deploying these technologies complement each other and contribute to a well-rounded connectivity ecosystem.
Traditionally, FTTH has been recognized as a reliable and high-bandwidth solution. It’s sudo-dedicated fiber optic lines provide exceptional speeds and low latency, making it suitable for data-intensive applications and services. FTTH offers a solid foundation for connectivity, particularly in densely populated areas or where high-speed, symmetrical upload and download speeds are paramount. I say sudo-dedicated because by defination,PON technology is a shared fiber resoure utilizing time-division multiple access (TDMA) scheduler.
On the other hand, FWA has emerged over the last couple decades as a flexible and rapidly deployable option. Utilizing wireless radio signals, FWA eliminates the need for physical cables and can deliver high-speed internet access without the extensive infrastructure requirements of FTTH. FWA excels in scenarios where rapid deployment and cost-effectiveness are crucial, making it an excellent solution for remote or underserved areas. With recent advancements in technology and multi-band radios and MU-MIMO technology. Some call this ngFWA with a sector capacity 2.4Gbps on the downlink and 800Mbps on the uplink per sector today and upcoming versions supporting 4Gbps+ downlink and 2Gbps of uplink by the end of 2023. The most common GPON standard is ITU-T G.984, which defines downlink (OLT-to-ONU) and uplink (ONU-to-OLT) transmission rates. The downlink rate is usually 2.488 Gbps (Gigabits per second), and the uplink rate is 1.244 Gbps. These rates are shared among all the ONUs connected to a GPON port. Not dramatically different than how FWA works.
The true strength lies in understanding how these technologies can complement each other to create a comprehensive connectivity network. By strategically integrating FTTH and FWA, service providers can leverage the unique advantages of each technology to maximize coverage and meet diverse customer needs. This is done today in 3GPP based mobility networks to power our ever increasing demand for mobile connectivity.
For instance, FTTH can serve as the backbone of the network, providing a solid and reliable connection in urban areas or locations with higher bandwidth demands. Meanwhile, FWA can extend the network’s reach by quickly and cost-effectively connecting areas where deploying fiber infrastructure is challenging. By combining both technologies, service providers can bridge the digital divide and ensure that no area is left behind.
Moreover, FTTH and FWA can also work together in redundancy and backup scenarios. By establishing a hybrid network that incorporates both technologies, service providers can enhance network resilience. In the event of a fiber cut or infrastructure failure, FWA can seamlessly take over and maintain connectivity, ensuring uninterrupted access for users. In fact, I have built and deployed dozens of hybrid networks and communinities because of lack of fiber transport. We have designed very high capacity microwave solutions in order to connect a remote FTTH neighborhood that otherwise would not have been able to due to high middle mile construction costs.
It’s important to foster collaboration and synergy between FTTH and FWA, rather than viewing them as competing alternatives. Both technologies have their strengths and can coexist harmoniously to create a comprehensive connectivity ecosystem. By leveraging the unique advantages of each, service providers can build a network that combines speed, reliability, scalability, and accessibility. Even certain associations such as the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and the Fiber Broadband Association acknowledge in their own conference agendas each other’s needs for various technologies to meet the demand.
In our pursuit of connectivity for all, let’s embrace the power of collaboration and recognize that the true potential lies in harnessing the complementary nature of diverse technologies. By working together, FTTH and FWA can help us create a connected world where everyone can benefit from reliable and high-speed internet accees. I’ve been saying this for nearly a decade and hope some pay attention. Fiber NEEDS Wireless and Wireless NEEDS Fiber.