When deploying a broadband access network, broadband service providers (BSPs) must consider several factors impacting the network's overall cost, efficiency, and scalability. When selecting a network partner, here are five key considerations to ensure the network will meet subscribers’ needs today and well into the future.
1. What is the Network’s Total Cost of Ownership?
Consider more than just upfront pricing. Review different deployment scenarios in the network and the system's ability to reach subscribers with minimal added systems. For instance, the BSP initially pays a lower price per port but then needs to deploy another system because the network cannot reach all subscribers. This affects CapEx savings and introduces additional maintenance and operational expenses.
Also, make sure to assess growth throughout the network lifecycle. Ask about any licensing fees required to deploy new features, ensuring they align with revenue growth. Look at project deployments and account for energy, footprint, and operational efficiencies.
2. Do All Systems Operate Similarly With Common Operational Models and Features?
Make sure to ask network partners this question. While building out a territory to deliver broadband to the community, BSPs will find that not all deployments are equal. For instance, it may require deploying access networks from the data center to the remote cabinet to a remote node to reach some subscribers.
All systems should run similarly to ensure network efficiency and have common service and operational models. Common operational models enable technicians to deploy systems quickly, require less training, and have less chance of error. Operations teams can also diagnose and resolve issues rapidly, contributing to an enhanced subscriber experience.
3. Does the Network Support Automating Configuration and Installation?
To accelerate time to revenue, the network must support capabilities to automate network configuration and installation. Look for network solutions that configure automatically, have consistent configuration steps between node types, and auto-configure passive optical network (PON) ports via plugging optics. Ultimately, automation reduces the time it takes network technicians to prepare a system for services.
Look for network solutions that can automatically service provision an optical network terminal (ONT)—which automatically configures the service without coordinating with customer support. Automatically provisioning
ONTs helps during PON splits by allowing BSPs to automatically move the subscriber’s service to a different PON port without coordinating with customer service, increasing speed-to-market.
4. How Long Will It Take to Operationalize?
It’s important to consider how long it will take to integrate the existing system into an OSS/BSS environment and operationalize it. Accelerating time to revenue is critical, so integrating systems should not take months. Find out what integration requirements are needed for deployment. What are the steps in the project? How many engineers are required? Ensure all systems have common operational models and standard APIs that do not change from release to release—that way, you can do one integration for service delivery versus creating a different one for each network element type.
5. How Does It Support Next-Gen PON Technologies?
Many systems today come in a box with no interchangeable parts. What will it take to upgrade the system in the future? Many chassis-based systems have backplanes that constrain throughput between the line cards and the uplink. Such systems require forklift upgrades to take advantage of next-generation ITU-standard-based PON technologies and innovations that reduce footprint and power requirements per PON port.
Here are a few specific questions to ask: Can we add new line cards, or is a forklift upgrade required for each system? Is there a future-proof form factor—or do you have a chassis with a backplane that needs an upgrade every few years to support future technology?
One other tip: Don’t forget to ask for customer references! And preferably from other BSPs—nothing speaks louder than hearing it from customers.