Solving the MDU Gigabit Coverage Challenge

By Pierre Trudeau, President and CTO, Positron Access
Fiber Forward Magazine – Q1 2023

Recent years have seen operators deploying more and more fiber miles to achieve the highest possible Homes Passed metric, with the focus on serving Single-Family Units (SFU) along these routes. Legacy MDUs were “bypassed” due to the difficulties and expense of bringing fiber to each door in these MDUs. This has created a digital divide for tenants in these buildings despite the nearby access to fiber.

Over 25% of U.S. residents live in MDUs. Unlike their neighbors, their internet access is limited to the lesser capabilities of VDSL2 or DOCSIS 3.1. For operators, this means a higher churn, missed revenues and an overall negative Net Promoter Score (NPS) from these frustrated target subscribers.

Addressing the MDU challenge

Recent work by the Broadband Forum (BBF) has focused on revisiting the best fiber extension technologies to leverage existing in-building wiring for these MDUs (telephone pairs or coaxial cabling), extending Gigabit services from nearby fiber without any construction complexity or disruption.

The BBF Technical Report TR-419 defines the notion of Fiber to the extension point (FTTep), describing different ways of providing fiber-based access to customers by employing existing copper infrastructure to facilitate deployments in a more economically attractive way. This can be achieved by extending the fiber network with the in- building wiring infrastructure to provide Gigabit access into the home. FTTep addresses how user traffic flows from fiber to coax or copper and then to a Gigabit Ethernet interface to connect to a residential gateway or Wi-Fi router.

Increasingly, the preferred technology for FTTep is, an access technology for operators looking to simplify their access network with an “Ethernet-like” technology over the existing wiring. A Access Multiplexer (GAM) is an Ethernet switch where each subscriber port supports up to 1.7 Gbps of dynamically allocated bandwidth for near- symmetrical gigabit services to each residential gateway (RG).

Adding xPON with OMCI support results in a transparent fiber extension

The last element to achieving a transparent fiber extension was for a GAM device to appear to an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) as an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) with multiple Gigabit Ethernet subscriber ports to the OLT (see diagram).

Native support for the ONT Management Control Interface (OMCI) by a GAM device allows the OLT and the operator OSS/BSS systems to define and activate services and subscribers as if they were delivered entirely over a fiber feed to a typical ONT. The GAM uses the management information received via OMCI to enforce the services and subscriber definitions as it uses to extend fiber over the copper or coaxial infrastructure and ultimately to the RG. OMCI is also used to retrieve operational data from each subscriber to monitor the services with the same level of visibility and control as with fiber.

Why does this matter for operators?

Fully leveraging an xPON infrastructure with FTTep is key to solving the MDU challenge and to unlocking the large MDU market. This is particularly attractive to telco operators and cable MSOs that are pushing a fiber-first strategy. The additional MDU-based subscribers come with a minimal investment and maximize the return on the already deployed fiber in a market.

The fiber-divide is solved and MDU tenants become strong supporters and your NPS goes way up along with revenues while the churn percentage is much lower. These operators can then build upon their newly found dominant position in the MDU market with better services and coverage. This expanded subscriber base generates extra revenues to support managed Wi-Fi across the MDU and a host of complementary services (home security, parental control, etc.) to secure their market position and achieve higher ARPU from these subscribers.

GAM Connection Diagram OK

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    Extending Gigabit Fiber services to Every Door without installing fiber to the door

    Positron’s Access Multiplexer (GAM) can extend your fiber services to every door of an MDU/MTU over the existing telephone pairs or coaxial cable to deliver Gigabit broadband. The Positron GAM delivers symmetrical Gigabit broadband without the need to install fiber to every door.

    By |2023-09-07T11:15:16-04:00April 5, 2023|Press Release|0 Comments

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