Fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) – a recently developed next generation access (NGA) broadband technology – emerged as a significant alternative to other FTTx solutions amongst telcos on the first day of the Telecoms IQ FTTx Summit Europe in Berlin yesterday. In particular, Orange France’s head of Optical Research & Development, Naveena Genay, presented the case for deploying FTTdp ahead of other FTTx configurations in the right circumstances. To support Orange’s goal of covering 3,600 districts with 100Mbps fibre access by 2015, Ms Genay says that FTTdp can be utilised as an alternative to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), as in France the existing local access network distribution points are suitably close to the user – often no more than 50 metres and typically on poles. She added that FTTdp serves a single user per optical network termination (ONT) – making it straightforward to comply with French regulator Arcep’s local loop unbundling (LLU) regulations. Unlike FTTH, FTTdp also requires no indoor cabling – cutting costs and time – while the technology is ‘reverse powered’, or in other words the power supply comes from each user’s premises. FTTdp vendor Aethra showcased the technology at the FTTx Summit, demonstrating how the existing copper network distribution points can be utilised – either situated on poles, in building basements, on external walls, or in the ground (depending on the country/city of deployment) – and how FTTdp/VDSL2/vectoring connections can be used to give near-FTTH speeds, while in the near future, G.fast deployments could allow even faster FTTdp speeds.
Telecom Italia’s (TI’s) manager of NGA network special projects and partnership strategy, Clelia Lorenza Ghibaudo, told TeleGeography at the FTTx Summit that the Italian telco is currently evaluating the possibility of deploying FTTdp, although a pilot stage has not begun yet. The TI official also pointed out that in the majority of Italian cities, fixed access network distribution points are typically nearer to the user’s premises than in the French example – often in the basement of a building – making the technology ideal for providing near-FTTH connection speeds. Another scenario for choosing FTTdp cited by TI – and echoed as a potential additional driver by compatriot Aethra – is the problem of rollout in areas of Italy with a large proportion of historical buildings which preclude the deployment of new in-building cabling. Illustrating the complex nature of current NGA strategy decision-making, TI is also amongst the telcos evaluating the upcoming G.fast access technology standard, while also actively examining deploying VDSL2 vectoring to give approximately 100Mbps speeds, but the path to commercial deployment of any of these technologies in Italy is not yet clear-cut, partly because of regulatory issues. TI has already deployed some fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC, launched last year) and a limited amount of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP)/GPON in major urban areas (chiefly in Milan), under an initial plan to cover Italy’s 125 largest cities and around 35% of households with 30Mbps-plus broadband.