Article Unlocking business value with ONTs
17 August 2023 | Blogs

Article: Unlocking Business Value: The Agnostic ONT’s Role in Advancing FTTH in the US

18 August 2023

Unlocking Business Value: The Agnostic ONT’s Role in Advancing FTTH in the US

Accessing high-speed broadband across North America became acutely amplified by the seismic shift of millions working from home during the pandemic. Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) offers consumers the increased broadband needed for remote work, gaming, streaming, and a wide range of digital services. The urge for bandwidth, highlighted clearly the gap between served, underserved and unserved regions. The digital divide became present and required action by the governments.

Article Unlocking business value with ONTs

As the industry evolves, several trends impact the challenges and growth opportunities for operators, ISPs, CSPs, and other (community) market players to roll out FTTH. In this article, we take a closer look at these trends and why agnostic optical network terminals (ONTs) may offer a solution for network operators to enhance their service offerings and streamline operations.

What’s happening in the market?

According to the 2021 Fiber Provider Study by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), over 60.5 million homes in the US have fiber broadband. Several clear trends are identified:

  1.  Investment and expansion: Network operators and ISPs initiate or continue to invest in expanding and upgrading their FTTH networks, including large players, regional and municipal ISPs. Community-owned broadband initiatives are gaining traction in several states to ensure better connectivity and infrastructure control.
  2. Competition and partnerships: Some ISPs are forming alliances to pool resources and infrastructure for more efficient and cost-effective FTTH deployment, such as laying fiber in new areas. This is where the increased competition from cable operators migrating to FTTH is also impacting the market.
  3. Rural Connectivity: Bridging the digital divide by providing high-speed internet to rural areas has been a priority for some initiatives. Government programs and private partnerships aim to bring fiber infrastructure to underserved and remote regions.
    For example, the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program earmarked USD 42.45 billion to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet within the next five years.

With these trends as the backdrop, FTTH operators, new and established, need to carefully consider their choice of optical line terminals (OLTs) and optical network terminals (ONTs) vendors. A recent whitepaper from OMDIA outlines some of the alternatives FTTH operators should consider.

The OLT landscape is experiencing a growing number of vendors offering different methods of deploying OLTs. This ranges from carrier-grade, pizza-box, pluggable OLTs, and virtual OLTs to embedded solutions for traditional DOCSIS cable vendors.

Due to the increasing amount of OLT solutions, there is a direct need for ONT vendors that exclusively focus on ONT production, which are agnostic and applicable to any OLT. FTTH operators eager to capitalize on the opportunities presented by new OLT vendors can benefit from collaborating with agnostic independent ONT vendors.

Some of the advantages of partnering with an agnostic ONT vendor include:

  • Streamlining operations and reducing complexities in handling diverse equipment. This is cost-effective, with savings in TCO.
  • Customization for diverse deployment needs. The FTTH landscape is not a one-size-fits-all. Different operators have distinct business models and requirements. Working with agonistic ONT vendors provides flexibility.

Managing the transition of cable providers to FTTH

A notable trend is that many cable providers are transitioning to FTTH. In the US, cable providers deliver internet to approximately 70% of broadband subscribers. However, this migration brings about its own set of challenges. IPTV rollouts demand the replacement of video equipment and the installation of new in-home cabling, creating logistical hurdles.

To address these challenges, ONTs supporting CATV connectivity are a valuable solution. They allow cable providers to navigate the migration process seamlessly, bypassing the need for equipment swaps and minimizing end-user disruption.

Overall, the FTTH landscape in the US is evolving, shaped by trends such as diversified OLT deployment, the rise of independent ONT vendors, customization for different operator needs, and the migration of cable providers to FTTH. There is an opportunity to leverage agnostic ONT vendors to simplify operations, cater to diverse deployment scenarios, and navigate the complexities of transitioning technologies.

Author: Mr. Jan Buis

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