The evolution of from home networking savior to access networks backbone

By Livia Rosu, Marketing Chair at HomeGrid Forum

Since before the early 2000s, general consensus in the telecoms industry has been that operators worldwide need to deploy extensive networks of optical fiber that reach every single home in order to achieve high-speed broadband services.

The thinking behind this Fiber to the Home (FTTH) deployment model assumed that existing legacy copper networks – originally built for phone services or cable television – would not be capable of delivering the high-speed data rates required for the next generation services that were yet to come. Something that we have since come to realize is simply not true.

A few of the biggest challenges that arose in the concept of the FTTH deployment model were the unprecedented costs and procedures associated with installing fiber networks on a mass scale. Installing fiber to every home is expensive, disruptive to customers and often delayed due to the slow process of gaining permission from historical building owners or local authorities.

Upon realization, advances in communications technology has allowed the industry to develop new telecom and cable standards, that provide high data rates which are competitive with those achieved through optical fiber, while leveraging existing copper infrastructures – with the latest being technology. allows service providers to reduce the cost of deploying FTTx networks while still delivering Gigabit-class broadband services that are virtually indistinguishable from traditional FTTH. The initial design goal for was specifying a unified physical layer and data link layer capable of delivering 1 Gbps data rates, that could operate over any wire in residential environments such as power lines, coaxial and twisted pairs.

While was originally developed to solve home-networking challenges, the industry quickly identified as a great solution for broadband access applications, particularly in multi-dwelling units (MDUs) that had legacy twisted-pair cabling for phone service already installed and where installing new optical fiber was prohibitively expensive.

When it comes to selecting a copper-based technology in favor of FTTx deployments to keep costs down, several technical aspects need to be considered including data rates, reliability, robustness and latency but that’s not the only thing. Non-technical qualities such as multi-vendor availability and interoperability, alongside technological maturity and scale also need to be taken into account.

Since its first release in 2009, technology has gone from strength to strength and has been adopted across a range of industry sectors that were looking for a robust and reliable backbone for their networks. Offering multi-vendor availability and interoperability through our complete compliance and interoperability program, offers a proven solution guaranteed to meet the capacity and bandwidth expectations of network operators for a multitude of applications.

As technology advances and businesses and consumers alike grow to expect high-quality, reliable connectivity, a robust network backbone that offers a low-cost solution to expand current infrastructure in line with these ever-increasing demands will be critical. Network operators that started to use in access networks have determined the technology has an impressive performance, is easier to deploy and provides substantial CAPEX savings when compared to traditional alternatives. They have been able to deliver FTTH-class broadband service to Multi-Dwelling Unit (MDU) apartments and Single Family Unit (SFU) houses while avoiding the costs of replacing copper wires or installing fiber all the way.

With this in mind, the ITU alongside multiple industry participants are currently working on amending the standard so that it can deliver data rates up to 10 Gbps, including full-duplex support – an advancement that will be key in addressing use cases such as 10 Gbps MDU broadband access and next-generation 10 Gbps Wi-Fi extenders. 

To find out more about the evolution of and its role in the future proof access networks read our latest whitepaper “Using in Access Networks,” the first one from the GiGAWire series here.