Case Study: Opportunities from a combined FTTx rollout

A phased broadband rollout

To increase broadband penetration and quality in area's with low penetration, there are many options to be considered, starting with the technology to choose: wireless (LTE, 4G, ...) or fixed (Fiber to the Business, Fiber to the Home, ...) or a combination of both. Starting with wireless broadband can be a good choice, since the total investment is typically lower compared to fixed broadband.

However, a fine grained wireless broadband network typically needs an extensive fiber backhaul network. Extending this fiber backhaul to a fixed broadband network becomes a logical next step, with additional benefits compared to mobile broadband (e.g. higher bandwidth and reliability). But should you take these future network extensions already into account when deploying the backhaul for the wireless broadband? Or should you take the cheapest option for every extension of the network? At the 29th CANTO conference in Aruba (July 2013), Comsof presented the results of a case study comparing these different approaches.

Case study

In the study Comsof calculated the total investment that is necessary to deploy a broadband network in the city of Ghent (Belgium). We split up the network deployment into four phases:

  • Phase 1: deploying fiber backhaul for all LTE antenna sites.
  • Phase 2: deploying fiber to all public buildings (e.g. schools, hospitals).
  • Phase 3: deploying fiber to all businesses.
  • Phase 4: deploying fiber to all residential buildings.

When planning the deployment of a phase, one can already take following phases into account, e.g. by deploying spare duct capacity to be used in following phases or by adjusting the network topology so that it is more optimal when future phases are deployed. This makes earlier phases more expensive of course (because the topology is not optimal until one of the following phases is deployed or because unused ducts are installed), but it can pay off in the long run.

We used the GIS data of buildings and their associated rollout sequence, the GIS data of the streets and used our FiberPlanIT software to calculate the investment necessary for every phase in three different scenarios:

  1. In the first scenario we planned the fiber network that is necessary for every phase without taking the following phases into account. This means that we took the cheapest extension possible for every phase.
  2. In the second scenario we calculated the network topology that is optimal for phase 3. This means that we took phase 2 and 3 already into account when planning phase 1.
  3. In the third scenario we calculated the network topology optimal for phase 4. This means that when planning phase 1 all following phases where already taken into account.

Results

When comparing the total CAPEX of all scenario's we can see huge differences: although scenario 1 requires a lower CAPEX in phase 1 compared to scenario 2, it becomes 37 percent more expensive than scenario 2 after phase 3. These results show that planning the entire network upfront in a smart way and comparing different approaches can help you to make a solid decision.

Disclaimer: these results are based on the exact GIS data of the city of Ghent. These results cannot be generalized.

Download the slides for more information about this case study.

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