In the past few years, network operators who have invested in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) have unknowingly laid the foundation for 5G. Currently most FTTH networks use only 2-3 wavelengths-one for Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) for downlink, one for GPON upload, and one for video transmission. The broad spectrum of coarse wavelength / dense wavelength division multiplexing (C / DWDM) wavelengths have not yet been used, so they can be used in wireless applications.
Network operators can use the same fiber bundle, but need to use different wavelengths to transmit cellular base station traffic and residential GPON traffic separately. Passive C / DWDM modules can be placed at both ends of fiber optic distribution facilities to combine or separate different wavelengths. As another option, network operators can also deploy a large number of different optical fiber bundles for traffic transmission, and make appropriate routing plans for optical fiber connections in optical fiber transfer boxes or splice boxes.
5G fixed wireless access is another factor driving fiber demand. Some operators see it as another broadband access option for home and small business consumers. Although the deployment of fixed 5G broadband access is faster and simpler than FTTH, the higher speed also exacerbates the bandwidth pressure of various parts of the network, which means that more fiber optic connections are needed to support it.
At present, almost all underground transportation, long-distance inter-provincial cities, and transcontinental networks are based on fiber optic connections, and have been proven to be scalable with the latest generation of optical transmission technologies to meet increasing bandwidth requirements. In access networks using wireless and microwave technologies, copper cables are still being deployed in large numbers. The large-scale use of optical fiber is crucial for areas that want to successfully achieve 5G coverage, and this is not just for capacity considerations. A greater number of interconnected fibers will also help achieve 5G’s performance goals related to network diversity, availability and coverage.
From this point of view, in order to fulfill the promised performance of 5G, “wireless networks cannot be separated from wired support” will be more and more confirmed, and the “wired” mentioned here refers to optical fiber. Today’s networks combine fiber, copper, and wireless technologies to meet the growing demand for broadband. Optical network connections have been recognized by major carriers around the world as the 21st century network infrastructure. At present, operators have begun to actively test and plan the deployment of 5G infrastructure. But before all this becomes a reality, network operators also need to consider how they can help optimize their network deployments and strategies.