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Fiber to the X

No Limits!

FTTx allows a technology shift from existing copper cabling systems to fiber, providing an almost unlimited transmission rate. Plenty of financial models have shown little difference between the deployment costs of optical fiber and copper cable systems of equal capacity.

It is a fact that fiber networking is the ultimate solution for delivering broadband services to customers and we are right in the middle of this trend. Fiber networking access is a proven broadband technology with almost no limits, so at any time it can be expanded to meet the bandwidth demands of individual customers over the coming years. FTTx is the fastest-growing global broadband technology, with significant deployments in Asia, Europe and North America. The number of FTTx deployments in Europe is forecasted to grow six times from 2009 to 2013

FTTx Market Insights

FTTx subscription CAGR 2004 to 2008 worldwide is over 50% on average (Infornetics). The total number of fiber subscribers worldwide is projected to reach 173.8 million by 2013 experiencing a CAGR of 35.5%. From 2008 to midyear 2009, the coverage of FTTH doubled to 6% worldwide.

FTTx Creates Business Opportunities

FTTx operation in Next Generation Access (NGA) services will increase ARPUs reliably by + 30% above DSL (Yankee Group, 2008). Additionally, FTTx revenue is increasing due to cooperations with the entertainment industry where high-quality online services and content are offered. Ultra bandwidth provided by FTTx enables video conferencing and unified communications services for both commercial and residential users.

Driving Force of FTTx

High-definition IPTV is one of the key drivers of FTTx, 2+ simultaneous HD streams for multi-room IPTV services will be the major trend in the coming years. Green environment issues are another driving force because fiber deployment saves more on CO2 than copper deployment.

How FTTx Impacts Our Lives

Just take a look at the friends around you and you can see how all our lives are gradually changing by the booming applications of broadband networking. People at work are using wired/wireless broadband access to the office and remote even for video communications and advanced requirements in e-business (unified communications). People at home are being entertained with HD IPTV and online gaming or people in vertical businesses are using broadband as an effective training tool for e-entertainment (HD IPTV, online gaming): Web 2.0 (fast content upload/download performance), e-health (e-medicine, remote caring), e-government (public services), e-home (remote control surveillance), e-learning (interactive multimedia education), social (virtual reality community), environment (life quality). More and more applications are being developed simply because the bandwidth chain has been broken. In addition, the power of broadband is only just starting to show how our lives will change from the way we communicate to the way we learn and the way we are entertained.



Active Ethernet, a type of Ethernet in the first mile (EFM). Active Ethernet uses optical Ethernet switches to distribute the signal, thus incorporating the customers' premises and the central office into one giant switched Ethernet network.


Passive Optical Network, point-to-multipoint, fiber to the premises network architecture in which unpowered optical splitters are used to enable a single optical fiber to serve multiple premises, typically 32 to 128. A PON consists of an Optical Line Terminal (OLT) at the service provider's central office and a number of Optical Network Units (ONUs) near end users.


Point of Presence, an artificial demarcation point or interface point between communications entities.


A device attached to a network, such as a computer or router, or a point in a network topology at which lines intersect.

Fiber to the Home (FTTH)

FTTH is usually deployed in one of two fiber based technologies – either using PON (Passive Optical Networking) technology or P2P with traditional Active Ethernet Fiber. Each Optical Network Terminal (ONT) device at the subscriber premise is connected by a dedicated fiber to a port on a switch in the POP or the optical splitter, using shared feeder fiber to the POP. It uses 100BASE-BX10 or 1000BASE-BX10 transmission in the case of point-to-point connectivity.

Fiber to the Building (FTTB)

An Ethernet switch / DSLAM in the building (typically in the basement) is connected to the POP via a single active Ethernet fiber or a pair of fibers, carrying the aggregated traffic of the building via Gigabit Ethernet or 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The connections between subscribers and the building switch can be fiber or copper based and also use some form of Ethernet transport suited to the medium available in the vertical cabling. In some cases building switches are not individually connected to the POP but are interconnected in a chain or ring structure in order to utilize existing fibers deployed in particular topologies and to save fibers and ports in the POP.

Fiber to the Node (FTTN)

A switch / DSLAM, typically in a street cabinet, is connected to the POP via a single fiber or a pair of fibers, carrying the aggregated traffic of the neighborhood via Gigabit Ethernet or 10 Gigabit Ethernet. The connections between subscribers and the switch in the street cabinet can be fiber based using either 100Mbps or Gigabit Active Fiber or copper based using VDSL2. This architecture sometimes is also called "Active Ethernet" as it requires active network elements in the field.

Popular Broadband Deployment Types

66% of the popular broadband access technologies on the left contain optical fiber. Operators have flexibility in deployment when considering distance, cost and the transmission speed and bandwidth demands from customers. From the technology and the green point of view, FTTx proves to be the best, most future-proof solution.


a new booming entertainment service provided by telcos worldwide, is made possible by using an Internet protocol over broadband connections. This puts great demands on the underlying infrastructure and networking equipment to be installed in network branching points and at customer premises. The video stream consumes more bandwidth for video transmission and the service is even more sensitive to transmission jitter and delay compared to data exchange or Internet access, so the application relies on a managed high-speed network to guarantee the quality, and FTTx is definitely the best solution to choose.

Types of FTTx

Operators adopt FTTx solutions based on their strategies, development plan and TCO evaluation from different territories. See the table below to compare FTTN, FTTB and FTTH with different dimensions. While PON has become the preferred technology for FTTH in many places of the world, a certain number of deployments in Europe and the Middle East are based on point-to-point fiber (P2P/AE), either for direct connections between subscribers and POPs (Points of Presence) in real FTTH scenarios or between building switches and POPs in FTTB scenarios. It is mainly due to the fact that most of the initial European deployments were made by municipalities which were effectively working in green field scenarios, i.e. they had to invest into civil works which constitutes the dominant part of the cost for deploying FTTH, while the cost of fiber is not a significant factor.

Business Approach

Using fiber optic cable promises virtually unlimited bandwidths; however the network operator always only has copper wire line over the last mile. This means that if DSL technology is no longer enough, new optical cables must be laid. The high investment costs of this infrastructure, combined with telecommunications providers' falling revenue at the same time, mean it is often difficult to put a business case to investors and network providers’ management boards. Nowadays, the ICT industry is spoilt with returns on investment of one to three years. However, when expanding FTTH and FTTC networks (regardless of whether PON or Active Fiber technology is used), it sometimes takes more than five years. Nevertheless, depending on the application and conditions at the time, business cases vary greatly, depending on whether passive or active access technology is used for the plan.

Success Cases

A number of FTTH operations are already profitable. Household penetration has hit 45.3% in Korea and Korean Telecom plans to provide 92% of national coverage by 2010 and 100% coverage by 2015; in Japan 39.5% of FTTH/FTTB in countrywide, 67.7% broadband service household penetration.

Maximized Bandwidth, Minimized Cost

By choosing a FTTB/FTTN/FTTC architecture, the ISP can build a network which will fulfill customers' demands for bandwidth and at the same time minimize the costs of implementing the network. An important quality of Zyxel's fiber and VDSL2 solutions is that they are highly scalable and open for increasing both the number of customers to be serviced and the bandwidth to the individual customer. The great advantage of passive fiber (PON) solutions is that splitters are totally passive and do not require any electricity or maintenance, so it can easily distribute the fibers with less operating or maintenance costs and it can operate in very rugged environments. On the other hand, Zyxel provides P2P/Active Ethernet solutions for telco needs in totally different environments. The advantages of a P2P/AE network are the good bandwidth allocation which is managed to assure maximum bandwidth per subscriber though it may have higher energy consumption and maintenance.


FTTx is an emerging network access solution with almost no limits. Zyxel FTTx solutions provide clients with various combinations of solutions/products carrying different technologies. In FTTN networks operators wish to adapt the service to the most economical point which fiber can reach and which can be used by copper wire to get to all DSL users to retain existing customers without bothering, to provide new service promotion or new customer premises replacement. It is as easy as adding fiber interface line cards to an IP DSLAM if deployed in the fiber ready environment. For places with fewer subscribers, Zyxel's remote VDSL IP DSLAMs can serve as temperature-hardened devices for an outdoor/street cabinet for strategic plans. They can be deployed for high-speed internet access and IPTV services to expand services and market share to the green field.


Fiber has been pushed to get closer to subscribers for a FTTB solution. Targeting communities with high-density population, the benefit of a Zyxel FTTB solution is to reach the most economic point to subscribers in the basement, providing advanced bandwidth-driven services to subscribers with easy-to-install remote MSAN with scalability and expandability.

A FTTH solution is now commonly used in new buildings; it will be a luxury but limitless solution for now and the future.

Network expandability, power consumption, distance and maintenance are the most important advantages which operators endorse. Zyxel provides three different types of FTTH solutions: an end-to-end P2P/AE solution, a GPON IAD, and an end-to-end GEPON solution to fulfill the requirement of operators.

FTTx is a future-proof solution with almost no limits regarding network bandwidth.

Zyxel provides various solutions for operators to choose to adapt a fiber solution according to the environment. It is not only possible to connect from DSL to fiber, from voice/data to video, but it also provides connections for more experienced users using more advanced applications.