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Plug into Simpler Fiber Broadband

Plug into Simpler Fiber Broadband

Even with billions in broadband funding, rural service providers are still challenged to serve the unserved and underserved. Rural communities require more miles of fiber to connect fewer subscribers, making them more expensive. Additionally, navigating funding requirements can be complex, especially for newer service providers or municipalities that are new to the broadband market.

On this week’s episode of Fiber for Breakfast, Kevin Sheehan, Ciena’s CTO of the Americas and VP of Sales Engineering, explored how service providers can overcome some of these challenges with a flexible modular approach to broadband network solutions that make deployments simpler.

“A modular, open approach really makes it a lot more feasible to serve these [rural] locations. It is easier to get started. You can plug it all together and it works. You can have a management platform, but if you do want to mix and match other proven solutions together, you can. You have a viable solution that best meets your needs, whatever kind of service provider you are,” Sheehan said.

This approach enables service providers to convert SFP receiver devices (routers, hosting platforms, etc.) into OLTs using coherent pluggables. Service providers realize improved flexibility to scale using whatever type of host platform they’d like to use. It also adds a new level of cost savings and energy efficiency to the network.

Sheehan explained, “If you look at a traditional router OLT and then a disaggregated and virtualized, modular solution, the latter provides more than 50% reduction in energy and almost a 70% footprint reduction as well. You know, service providers don’t often need a very large platform to get started serving these rural areas. They’d like to get started as small as they can and even in a pay-as-you-go modular format as well. So, this disaggregated modular approach is really making that real for the service provider.” He also said the modular approach uses less power and provides greater density per rack unit compared to the traditional approach, providing shocking cost savings.

Ciena is an experienced leader in data center interconnect, giving the company a deep understanding of how to support hyperscale-level capacity needs with efficiency in terms of space, energy, and cost. “[Data centers] introduced us to the concept of aggregation and openness because that’s the name of the game in their world. The amount growth that they see in terms of bandwidth is unimaginable in any other aspect of our business, honestly. And then, of course, energy is very important. So, we’ve learned how to significantly reduce energy usage through density and miniaturization. I have one module in my hand here that can do 1.6 terabytes of data, which is just crazy.” Not too long ago, that amount of data would require racks of equipment in a central office and now it’s a pluggable module.

The company realized its experience with data centers and transport networks could be leveraged for residential access networks. “We had a lot of the synergy, related to that miniaturization of components, the optimization of bandwidth, the optimization of power, and we saw, you know, I think we could really bring something to the party here,” Sheehan added.

This modular approach can be critical in allowing service providers to initiate their fiber broadband deployments. It can also help them scale as they look to increase bandwidth—which might be sooner than later. Sheehan anticipates that service providers will start offering 25G speeds in the next calendar year.

Fiber for Breakfast is brought to you by Platinum Sponsor Wesco. To learn more about modular approaches to broadband deployments, tune into the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.