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Rostelecom: The Road to Digital Transformation in Access Network

Release Date:2018-08-20  Author:By Zhou Wei  Click:

Troubles for Rostelecom
Founded in 1993, Rostelecom is committed to providing a whole range of services, including mobile, fixed-line, internet, TV, and value-added services covering B2C, B2G, B2B and B2O. Rostelecom has operated national transport backbone networks and international gateways, with 12.4 million fixed-line broadband users, 9.3 million pay TV users and 21.2 million fixed-line telephone users. Since its founding, Rostelecom has acquired various small operators in each federal district and grown rapidly into the largest wireline operator in Russia, with subsidiaries in each federal district. 
However, Rostelecom has its own troubles. With the rapid development of emerging internet services, IP-based internet telephony has gradually penetrated with low tariffs into traditional TDM business. The mobility and diverse service capabilities of mobile 2G and 3G networks have presented huge challenges to traditional fixed-line business. Traditional outdated TDM switches and multi-service access platforms have increased Opex. Moreover, it is difficult to deploy new services on the traditional TDM platform, and the platform cannot support smooth evolution to next-generation high-speed broadband technologies. In an open competition environment, as users have a fast-growing need for high-speed broadband internet access, more and more operators are competing for the broadband market. 
Rostelecom inherited a large portion of the former Soviet Union’s network legacy, and also inherited its problem of network development planning. Rostelecom’s existing networks contain a large number of old PSTN devices that serve for over ten years and need high maintenance costs and Opex.  Moreover, these old devices cannot provide higher bandwidth but occupy a large number of central offices (COs) that consume a large amount of high-value land. The issue of how to turn the large number of copper wires into things of value has also become a major concern of Rostelecom.
As Rostelecom grew rapidly for many years through merger and acquisition, it faces the problem of properly coordinating its subsidiaries. Because the subsidiaries independently plan their own networks, it is difficult for the headquarters to plan the entire network in a unified way. Therefore, it is urgent to upgrade technologies to unify the network planning of the subsidiaries and to give a bigger say to headquarters. Under such circumstances, Rostelecom needs an integrated access platform that can carry traditional services and meet high-speed broadband service needs.

Initiating the Digital Transformation
Rostelecom has formulated new digital strategies that can revamp and upgrade its basic networks and enable outdated TDM to be IP-based to reduce network maintenance costs. Rostelecom has also improved the network speed to support new high-bandwidth high-value services such as 4K/8K video and potential AR/VR business.
After multiple tests and selections, Rostelecom finally chose ZTE’s advanced MSAN access platform to implement digital broadband upgrade.
As an multi-service access platform for PSTN, NGN and IMS deployment, MASN supports IP voice, xDSL and xPON, and provides various broadband and narrowband access methods to meet Rostelecom’s need of building the integrated broadband and narrowband. To solve the problems Rostelecom faces in its existing networks, ZTE provided a tailor-made solution for Rostelecom. The MSAN small outdoor deployment solution can narrow the service distance of copper wires, improve broadband quality, and convert the saved equipment room space into cash to achieve asset-light operation.

● MASN supports smooth evolution to next-generation VDSL: MASN supports smooth evolution to G. Vectoring and G.Fast. It fully uses the large amount of cooper wire resources in Rostelecom's existing networks, and uses the copper wire VDSL technology to dramatically increase network speeds and effectively reduce the overall Capex. With today’s explosively growing need for broadband business, this solution can fully use the large amount of existing copper wire resources and make them an important source of income.

● MSAN supports smooth evolution to FTTx: MSAN supports smooth evolution to FTTx, enabling Rostelecom to successfully deploy MSAN on next-generation optical networks. This allows smooth interconnection with full optical networks and fully meets the need of smooth network evolution.
● Tailor-made outdoor cabinet can tolerate cold weather of Russia: Russia, the largest country in the world by area, is the closest to the Arctic. Most areas of Russia have a frigid climate with extremely low temperatures in the winter. This presents huge challenges for outdoor deployment of the MSAN platform, and thus Rostelecom sets strict test conditions. ZTE provides Rostelecom with anti-high-humidity, low temperature-tolerant, rain-proof, snow-proof, damp-proof, and dust-proof outdoor cabinets, which have proved to meet the requirements of Rostelecom after multiple tests and verifications. Therefore, the last obstacle of outdoor deployment of MSAN has been cleared for Rostelecom.
● Release equipment room resources to reduce Opex: As the outdoor solution matures, Rostelecom has carefully evaluated and formulated plans to release equipment room resources. Rostelecom will convert these fixed assets into proceeds through lease or sale to create bright spots on financial reports and to further reduce Opex.

Moving Faster on a New Journey
After the cooperation with ZTE, Rostelecom accelerated the deployment of MSAN over its subsidiaries. ZTE formed technical expert teams to closely work with the subsidiaries of Rostelecom to exchange ideas on network planning, deployment, and maintenance, and to jointly explore the future technological evolution. The expert teams also rapidly implemented network upgrading and helped Rostelecom test and share ideas on copper-wire-based bandwidth increase solutions and technologies.

As a traditional operator, Rostlecom has designed good strategies for its networks and shouldered due responsibility for Russia's digital development. It has also struck a balance between investments and network upgrade and used limited investments to achieve rapid business growth. As Rostelecom implemented its strategies, ZTE provided tailor-made solutions and products for Rostelecom to upgrade its networks. 

Although Russia is a large country, it lags behind other countries of its size and even small European countries in terms of telecom network quality. Therefore, there are abundant opportunities for improving network building in Russia. As the largest national operator of Russia, Rostelecom assumes the responsibility of network planning and development of the entire nation. It is firmly believed that Rostelecom, which has successfully implemented network transformation, can help improve the overall network building capability of Russia and enjoy the enormous economic and political benefits brought about by the network transformation. 

[Abstract] Rostelecom, digital transformation, MASN,, G.Vectoring, next-generation VDSL