Demand for high bandwidth has soared as new services continuously emerge. The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this demand, turning the home into a super information center for entertainment, learning or work. New interactive applications present many challenges for home broadband, such as video stuttering, frame loss, and audio-visual asynchrony during live streaming, online classes, and video conferences, making 100 Mbps connections increasingly inadequate. It has become urgent for operators to evolve towards gigabit access and make breakthroughs in terms of latency, packet loss, and the number of connections. A study shows that 32% of the customers would leave their beloved brands after just one bad experience, and customers would pay up to a 16% price premium for a good experience. Gigabit home broadband will help full-service operators boost user stickiness, gain competitive advantages, and raise average revenue per user (ARPU).
Gigabit broadband will be the cornerstone of an increasingly digitalized world. Governments across the world have successively launched gigabit initiatives and incorporated gigabit optical access networks into their strategies. As a leader in gigabit construction, China has built the world's largest gigabit network under the "dual gigabit", "triple gigabit", and "full gigabit" plans. Based on EU's vision for European Gigabit society, Germany has released its Gigabit Germany initiative, which aims to deploy gigabit networks by the end of 2025. Countries such as the UK and South Korea have also made similar plans. It can be seen that gigabit access has become an inevitable trend in response to enable service expansion, business development and national strategies.
On the network side, 10 Gbps connections should be available. Take VR as an example. The bandwidth of a single-channel VR service is 150?300 Mbps. More bandwidth will be needed with the introduction of new VASs like gaming, smart home IPTV and online education. It is clear that GPON access networks cannot accommodate gigabit services at scale and need to be upgraded to 10G PON. The 10G PON industry chain is now fully mature, supporting large-scale deployment. On the other hand, Wi-Fi carries 90% of Internet traffic in a household. Research by an operator indicates that 53% of the complaints it received are related to home network issues, making Wi-Fi quality critical to guaranteeing user satisfaction. To let users enjoy a true gigabit experience, operators need to further improve the quality of home networks and eliminate the bandwidth bottleneck. Some households using FTTH service fail to get gigabit broadband as a result of the low performance of their home gateways or the high attenuation of Wi-Fi signals caused by the building structures. In addition, with the emergence of new home services, home networks also need to have high bandwidth, low latency, and low jitter. Compared with Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 has such characteristics as gigabit access, low latency, and massive connections, making it an important technology for gigabit broadband.
Operators can roll out gigabit networks in stages according to their network plans. Some operators may deploy 10G PON technology first to make their networks gigabit-capable and provide Wi-Fi 6 CPEs on demand to deliver a true end-to-end gigabit experience to users. Some operators may offer gigabit bandwidth over their existing GPON networks while deploying Wi-Fi 6 CPEs on the user side to boost network coverage and enhance user experience at their early stage of gigabit deployment, and gradually upgrade their networks to 10G PON as the gigabit user base expands. Therefore, 10G PON & Wi-Fi 6 is the best technology mix to achieve end-to-end true gigabit access. It can be used to build a gigabit optical access network, delivering gigabit speeds not only to the doorstep but also to every room. ZTE's 10G PON & Wi-Fi 6 solution (Fig. 1) employs innovative technologies and advanced products to help operators build real gigabit optical access networks and stand out in the gigabit era.
Efficient Network Construction
For 10G PON construction, the first issue to be addressed is how to upgrade the network cost-effectively and smoothly. A traditional upgrade involves adding 10G PON cards or an OLT as well as an external multiplexing unit, and both the optical distribution network (ODN) and fiber connections need to be modernized. ZTE's industry-first Combo PON solution (Fig. 2) uses a 3-in-1 design to integrate a GPON optical module, a 10G PON optical module, and an optical multiplexer (called WDM1r) into a Combo PON optical module. This solution allows operators to simply replace GPON cards with Combo PON cards without adding extra equipment room space or changing the existing ODN. Depending on their network and service conditions, they can deploy either GPON ONUs or 10G PON ONUs. This approach allows for one-off deployment of the Combo PON cards and on-demand evolution of the ONUs, thus saving network construction investments. To date, the Combo PON solution has been tested, trialed and deployed by more than 30 operators around the world, and has become the first choice for Chinese operators to build their 10G PON networks. ZTE also offers a lightweight tool to facilitate the migration from GPON to 10G PON. With a click of a button, data configuration and switching will be completed, greatly improving the migration efficiency and accuracy.
A premium 10G PON network requires the support of a superior OLT platform. As an industry-leading flagship optical access platform, the ZTE TITAN OLT provides a solid foundation for the deployment of 10G PON networks and gigabit services.
—First, the TITAN enables large-scale 10G PON deployments. It uses 16-port high-density 10G PON cards, which translates into one large-capacity device providing up to 272 10G PON ports and connecting over 17,000 users of 4K video.
—Second, the TITAN has the industry's highest per-slot bandwidth and switching capacity and is capable of processing the massive traffic generated by gigabit access.
—Third, the TITAN adopts a fully distributed architecture to implement non-blocking forwarding of gigabit services. It contains ZTE's in-house 5-in-1 chips with built-in network processor (NP) functionality that can be flexibly programmed to accommodate the diverse scenarios and services of the gigabit era while reducing the equipment energy consumption.
True Gigabit Home Experience
ZTE leverages its key Wi-Fi 6 technologies and a family of Wi-Fi 6 products to deliver at-home gigabit experience.
—Extended range and dual-carrier modulation (ER+DCM) technologies are used to enhance remote coverage and eliminate indoor blind spots. A smart QoS mechanism is also introduced to slash latency by 70%, which ensures the user experience of latency-sensitive services like VR and gaming.
—ZTE's comprehensive customization capability enables operators to meet service requirements while reducing equipment costs and creating brand value.
—ZTE has in-house CPU chips for CPE products, and it works with mainstream chipmakers to provide a stable and reliable supply of CPEs for customers. With several self-owned factories and outsourced factories across the world, ZTE is able to guarantee prompt delivery.
—ZTE has submitted over 70 standard proposals and acts as the chair of the IEEE 802.11ax PHY Working Group to contribute to industry standardization.
ZTE's full range of Wi-Fi 6 products have been put into large-scale commercial use across countries such as Japan, Italy and China.
Premium Gigabit Networks
In an age when the experience of Internet users reigns supreme, operators are gradually shifting their focus from delivering a sufficient bandwidth to guaranteeing a satisfactory experience. To improve the gigabit service user experience, operators need to measure and manage the end user experience over their networks. ZTE utilizes a series of experience assurance solutions to guarantee the quality of gigabit networks. For home networks and associated devices, a cloud platform is used to perform management functions like topology visibility, fault reporting and remote upgrade. For optical access networks, an expert system is applied to analyze weak optical points and the resulting data is used to help operators optimize the points. For gigabit services, traffic data is collected in real time to provide the big data foundation for smart operation and maintenance (O&M), including fast fault location and network quality optimization.
Featuring high bandwidth, low latency, long lifespan, and high reliability, gigabit optical access networks will become a new basis of the digital economy. In addition to bringing gigabit to the home, gigabit optical access networks will enable the digital transformation of various industries, unlocking a new gigabit era.