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Broadband access extension technologies will help solve the MDU connectivity challenge

Emerging fiber extension technologies that take advantage of existing MDU cabling enable service providers to deliver high-speed broadband to tenants.

Next-generation fiber technology has already been widely deployed, and many places are being served seamlessly, quickly, and relatively inexpensively by fiber. However, delivering reliable and foolproof broadband access to multiple dwelling units (MDUs) remains a challenge.

For buildings such as apartment complexes and hotels, operators face considerable headaches when trying to cope with the complexity and additional costs involved. With the global pandemic bringing operators’ fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) strategies under greater scrutiny, the difficulties of installing expensive fiber for multiple tenants or workers in a building with different offices, rooms and apartments can become more difficult. prove insurmountable.

Across America and Europe, many populations still reside in MDUs, and their daily quality of life often depends on their ability to relax, communicate, and work comfortably and efficiently. Fiber needs to be pushed further into the network, but MDU size can often be an issue. The approval process with apartment owners and tenants can be time-consuming, and disruptions during fiber installations can be a significant hurdle.

If the adoption rate of these new services is low when fiber is installed, the costs alone can prevent operators from continuing. Therefore, Single Family Units (SFUs) are much more attractive to operators as profitability will be higher and installations will be simpler. Therefore, global operators are turning to other solutions in the market to help solve this problem, which is no surprise. As carriers continue to deliver multi-gigabit broadband to their customers, fiber-to-the-extension-point (FTTep) architecture can quickly deliver the needed service instead of installing FTTP, digging up roads, or to run cables to each household.

FTTep may be the answer

MDUs are considered underserved and could be served more effectively by FTTep. Essentially, apartments within an MDU can be reached by fiber technology, but the last few hundred meters can be served by telephone lines, coaxial cables, or radio. These complementary access technologies offer low latency, low jitter and a quality of experience equal to that of fiber. When installing fiber close to customer premises, the last few hundred meters can only serve a limited number of customers, and there are several issues to address, including high costs and obtaining permits. tenants, building owners or local governments for civil works.

FTTep can provide the same gigabit and multi-gigabit speeds as fiber and avoids the need for on-site technicians to install cabling and equipment inside or near buildings for multiple living units within an MDU . An FTTep architecture sees an optical signal converted into electrical signals traveling over telephone lines, coaxial cables or radios. It makes it possible to share the fiber between an increased number of customers.

In FTTP deployments, fiber connects an optical line terminal (OLT) to an optical network unit (ONU), typically located on the exterior wall of a building. The Ethernet signal travels from the ONU to the residential gateway inside the house. However, with FTTep deployments in an MDU building, the fiber connects the OLT to a distribution point unit (DPU) in the basement or outside the building. It is transmitted over existing cables in the premises using copper-based technologies such as, Access and MoCA Access.

Complete Fiber Offerings

In MDUs, operators can use, Access or MoCA Access and use existing coaxial or telephone infrastructure to bring fiber connectivity from a DPU to each floor of a complex or building. Carriers looking to bring gigabit speeds to all customers find that’s simply impossible to do in some places.

“TR-419 Fiber Access Extension over Existing Copper Infrastructure Issue 2,” Broadband Forum Technical Report, explores the integration of complementary copper technologies, such as MoCA Access,, and Access. By leveraging copper infrastructure, carriers can quickly and cost-effectively deploy scalable, fiber-quality services to homes and businesses. It is a viable alternative to installing fiber, which is not always economically or physically feasible in ILMs, without sacrificing quality.

Service providers and telecom operators can achieve more cost-effective deployments less likely to be impeded by major construction work by integrating these complementary copper technologies. They can provide ubiquitous connectivity to every corner of customer apartments and offices in MDUs such as hotels or apartment complexes. Point-to-point (P2P) and point-to-multipoint (P2MP) infrastructures ensure that residential and business end users can access multi-gigabit services.

MDU Industry Collaboration

Collaboration in the Broadband Forum’s PHYtx work area between industry associations, such as HomeGrid Forum and MoCA, ensures that service operators can stay ahead of their customers’ demands with these cost-effective deployment options and services. managed. Broadband Forum’s TR-419 work is technology independent, allowing service providers to choose the most appropriate technology for each deployment.

The TR-419 defines alternative and complementary architectures for extending fiber networks, simplifying the deployment of symmetric and asymmetric multi-gigabit services, and facilitating seamless fiber deployments. The report also outlines a number of use cases and migration options that may be representative deployment scenarios for operators choosing to implement an FTTep solution. Industry collaboration gives operators more choices to rapidly deploy broadband services, reducing the need to bring fiber into homes.

As connectivity in MDUs continues to be a significant challenge for operators, leveraging copper-based access technologies to complement their existing FTTP offerings can deliver the reliable, high-quality broadband that people in every apartment, office or house desire.

Herman Verbueken is the director of the PHYtx work area at the Broadband Forum.

Herman Verbueken