You are on page 1of 17

Technology Report 3: Wired

broadband solutions for rural


Europe

December 2005

09/01/06 1
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Introduction
While telecommunications started from deploying isolated links that
directly connect two points, and developed through the stages of isolated
islands and networks dedicated to certain applications, the
telecommunications environment of today should rather be viewed as an
integrated global network. It may unite a number of different transport
technologies to cooperate for serving an individual application, as well as
let multiple applications share common transport networks.

The latter fact significantly changes the way in which building of networks
should be approached today. From a deep engineering task, usually
resulting in development of proprietary systems,
the accent is being shifted to integration of all
kinds of standardised technologies. This trend is
especially intensified by digitalisation of services,
which makes everything moving towards what
would be looking more like universal data
networking.

Two aspects of viewing the networks should be


clearly understood and distinguished:

• Technology. This is the engineering part. It includes all kinds of


hardware a software means that provide physical media along
with the due access techniques, modulation and transmission of
information between endpoints, interfaces letting applications to
access services.

• Operation. This deals with integrating and selling end-to-end


services to the ultimate users. Network operators use
technologies that they own themselves or lease from somebody
else, as well as cooperate with other operators, to ultimately get
their users either connected between them or having access to
the needed resources.

December 2005 2
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Physical media
The purpose of the physical layer is to transport a raw bit stream from one
machine to another. Various physical media can be used for the actual
transmission. Each one has its own niche in terms of bandwidth, delay,
cost, and ease of installation and maintenance. Media are roughly
grouped into guided media, such as copper wire and fiber optics, and
unguided media, such as radio and lasers through the air.

Cooper

Copper wire has been used for many years as the mainstay of signal
transmission. It has low electrical resistance, so the loss due to current
flowing in the wires is quite small. It is very easy to work; it can be bent
and straightened many times without
breaking, i.e. it is malleable. Copper
wire cable used in telecommunications
comes in two varieties:

• Twisted pair - Twisted pair data


cables for LANs are specified
as categories 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.
Most used is CAT-5, specified
by standards TIA/EIA 568A,
ISO/IEC 11801, EN 50173.

• Coaxial pair - The 75-ohm cable is commonly used for analogue


transmission, including cable TV networks.

• The 50-ohm cable is commonly used in data networks.

Fiber

Fiber optics, compared to


copper wires, is a relatively
new technology. The fiber optic
cables are more expensive in
production and maintenance,
but they offer significantly more
bandwidth, hence higher
transmission speeds. Several
varieties of optic cables exist

December 2005 3
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

today, having different properties.

Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) system

The HFC network is a broadband access network comprising an optical-


fiber part from the head end location to optical network units (ONUs),
which serve the customers via coaxial cable. HFC was developed for
expanding the service selection over the existing coaxial cable
infrastructure originally used for
CATV (Cable TV) service
provision only.

Consequently earlier networks


were limited to analogue video
distribution.

Nevertheless new HFC


systems may support both
broadcast and interactive
services, depending on the
system architecture. They might
be able to deliver full range of
analogue and digital services:
telephony services (cablephone), audio and video distribution, video-on-
demand and high bit rate data services (cable modem) e.g. high speed
Internet access on the same network.

HFC supports a mix of analogue and digital channels using a frequency-


division multiplexing (FDM) scheme. The available bandwidth is split into
channels: the downstream traffic contains analogue distribution channels,
digital channels for video and audio distribution, and video-on-demand,
and finally for the downstream part of interactive services. The upstream
traffic contains digital channels for interactive services. Due to the FDM
approach, HFC provides an evolutionary path for the analogue to digital
transition and from distribution to interactive services.

Wave Division Multiplexing

Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM and DWDM) is a multiplexing


technology that divides the optical beam on a single fiber strand into its
component colours (wavelengths). Standard means of increasing the
number of wavelength channels involve the use of narrower channel
spacing or optical amplification. Due to the increasing complexity of
providing a large number of wavelengths, current research is focusing on

December 2005 4
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

raising the total aggregate capacity carried over a fiber strand. Vendors
are increasing wavelength channel rates from 2.5 Gbps to 10 Gbps, 20
Gbps and up to 40 Gbps. Each wavelength can be made to carry as
much (or more) information than previously passed through the entire
fiber strand.

One of the main attractions of DWDM is that it can be installed on existing


in ground fiber without digging it up - meaning lower installation costs for
additional capacity. This is already having an impact on the cost of long-
haul transport in Australia, but has yet to make a dent in last mile
connectivity, largely due to the costly requirement of laying fiber in the first
place.

Electric power line


communications
Power line communications (PLC) means data transfer via a combination
of the power network within the home or office and the metropolitan
power distribution grid. Instead of having to install dedicated cabling, PLC
uses power lines to carry data.

signals and electricity are combined together


and, once in the home, all power sockets can
be used to connect to the data
communications.

BPL (Broadband over Power Line)

These systems operate on an unlicensed basis.


BPL systems may operate either inside a
building (“In-house BPL”) or over utility poles
and medium voltage electric power lines
(“Access BPL”).

As In-house BPL systems can use the electrical


outlets available in every room of a building to
transfer information between computers and
between other home electronic devices, they
eliminate the need to install new wires between these devices.

Access BPL systems can be used to provide high speed internet access
and other broadband services to homes as well as providing electric utility

December 2005 5
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

companies with a means to more effectively manage their electric power


distribution operations.

Access BPL can be made available in conjunction with the delivery of


electric power, it may provide an effective means for last mile delivery of
broadband services, and may offer a competitive alternative to digital
subscriber line (DSL), cable modem services and other high-speed
Internet technologies. BPL is standardised in: ETSI-PLT

Potential for interference

Some groups oppose the proliferation of this technology, mostly due to its
potential to interfere with radio transmissions. As power lines are typically
untwisted and unshielded, they are essentially large antennas, and will
broadcast large amounts of radio energy. Recently, power and
telecommunications companies have started tests of the BPL technology,
over the protests of the radio groups.

Interference free PLC G-line technology

It now appears there is a technology that will provide faster data rates
(demonstrated up to 216 Mbps) than the systems operating in the 1.7 to
80 MHz range, and also eliminate interference to HF operations.

The system, developed by Corridor systems-USA, uses microwave


spectrum instead of HF frequencies. This new technology can leverage
existing low-cost 802.11 chipsets, achieving lower cost than competing
PLC solutions. Corridor Systems’ technology uses the spectrum between
2 GHz and 20 GHz, avoiding the HF and VHF frequencies entirely.

Recently, Corridor Systems has tested and demonstrated simultaneous


operation of its PLC technology and amateur radio HF communications.
Utilizing a 100 watt, 7 MHz, 21 MHz and 28 MHz amateur SSB/CW
transmitter connected to a dipole antenna located within 20 feet of an
operating PLC system, there was not any evidence whatsoever of the
operation of one system in the other. Amateur UHF communications at
446 MHz and at a 25-watt power level were similarly unaffected and in
turn were not detected by the PLC system. Examination of the 0.1–30
MHz HF spectrum with a quality communications receiver also revealed
no evidence of the PLC system.

December 2005 6
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Hybrid Fiber Radio


(HFR)
The integration of wireless and optical networks is a
potential solution for increasing capacity and mobility as
well as decreasing costs in the access network. By use
Hybrid Fiber Radio (HFR), the capacity of optical
networks can be combined with the flexibility and
mobility of wireless access networks. An exciting
possibility is to reduce the complexity, and thereby the
cost, at the radio transceiver sites. By using HFR, a large part of the
complexity can be transferred to a central office deeper into the network.
With this approach, one can also steer the radio capacity to where it is
mostly needed and it also offers ways to centralise and simplify mobility
handling.

The overall purpose of the project is to evaluate how integrated


wireless/optical access networks may be implemented several years from
now in the future. This timeframe enables us to consider some quite
promising state-of-the-art technologies and also how today’s HFR
technologies can be incorporated in the access networks. In this
document technical results are presented and architectures for wireless-
optical access networks are proposed. The document starts with an
overview of today’s wireless - and fixed access networks, in order to give
some background. After this a description of the technical requirements
on the HFR technologies are discussed. Thereafter, different HFR
technologies are described in some detail and results from dynamic
range measurements of electro absorption modulators are presented. In
the next section, the wireless-fixed AM convergence is analysed,
especially how HFR can play a role and it is also described how HFR can
be used to enhance mobility in the access network. Finally, in the last
chapter, architectures for wireless-optical access networks are proposed.

The parameters of the different wireless access networks put


requirements on the HFR technology. The most important parameters are
RF and IF frequency, output power (ERP) and Dynamic Range (DR).
Both the output power and the dynamic range are dependent on the
environment and cell size and on the radio system itself.

December 2005 7
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Last mile
A passive optical network (PON) is a system that brings optical fiber
cabling and signals all or most of the way to the end user in residential
and new small/medium business networks. Depending on where the PON
terminates, the system can be described as fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC),
fiber-to-the-building (FTTB),
Fiber To The Cabinet (FTTCab),
Fiber To The Office (FTTO) or
fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).
Passive Optical Networks
(PONs) utilize light of different
colours (wavelengths) over
strands of glass (optical fibers) to
transmit large amounts of
information between customers
and network/service providers. The passive simply describes the fact that
optical transmission has no power requirements or active electronic
devices once the signal is going through the network. With PONs, signals
are carried by lasers and sent to their appropriate destination by devices
that act like highway interchanges, without the use of any electrical power,
eliminating expensive powered equipment between the provider and the
customer. PONs offer customers video applications, high-speed Internet
access, multimedia and other high-bandwidth capabilities

Fiber to the Curb

Fiber optics provide the highest level of network performance. However,


to deliver services to an end customer, the broadband signal must be
converted from optical to electrical at some point in the network. At the
conversion point, the physical cable changes from fiber to copper.

While fiber optic costs are coming down, there is still significant expense
involved, including the requirement for customer premise equipment
(optical electrical converters). Alternatively, if the optical electrical
converters are placed at or near the end of the backbone network, the
last mile of the customer access network can be provided via copper
wire.

Hybrid fiber/copper architecture involves the deployment of fiber optic


cables that terminate at an ONU (Optical Network termination Unit). At
the ONU, the signal is transferred from the fiber to the final copper drop to

December 2005 8
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

the subscriber or user. This is known as a Fiber to the Curb (FTTC)


topology.

In FTTC architectures, last mile connectivity is generally provided via


VDSL (Very high-speed DSL) or copper coaxial cable. VDSL was
originally developed as part of the Telco Fiber to the Curb (FTTC)
topology. Because VDSL gains in speed but loses in distance or range,
there is a need for a high capacity feed to bring the service to within 2 km
of the user. The feed is a fiber optic link terminating in an ONU (Optical
Network termination Unit).

The FTTC/HFC (Fiber to the Curb/Hybrid Fiber Coax) architecture is


similar in structure to FTTC/VDSL. From the headend, content travels
over a fiber link, or trunk, to an Optical Network Unit (ONU) / Optical
Node / Fiber Node serving a particular neighbourhood. The ONU, or
node, converts the optical transmission into an RF signal that is then
distributed over a set of coaxial feeder cables, or branches, to the
neighbourhood. In each neighbourhood, a set of taps is used to splice
into the feeder cable to connect a drop cable between the pole and the
home. HFC channels can support up to 38 Mbps
downstream and 10 Mbps upstream. However,
this bandwidth is generally shared between
subscribers. Typical access speeds experienced
by cable modem subscribers' range from 500
Kbps to 1.5 Mbps - depending on network
architecture and traffic load.

The major difference between the FTTC/VDSL


and FTTC/HFC architectures can be summarised as the difference
between shared and dedicated bandwidth. With VDSL every copper wire
(subscriber connection) can carry up to 52 Mbps downstream. With HFC,
every channel on the coax cable can carry up to 38 Mbps downstream. All
subscribers serviced by an Optical Node (eg. The neighbourhood node)
share the same channel capacity. Additional capacity can be allocated to
individual neighbourhoods via the use of multiple channels for data.

A twist on the standard FTTC/HFC model occurs when the cable plant
conforms to the DOCSIS (Data over Cable Service Interface
Specification) standard. Under DOCSIS, each cable user is allocated a
pre-defined upstream/downstream bandwidth. For instance, subscribers
may be allocated a 64 Kbps upstream and 256 Kbps downstream portion
of a cable channel.

December 2005 9
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Fiber In The Home

Fiber to the home (FTTH) is the ideal fiber-optics architecture. In this


architecture, fiber deployment is carried all the way to the customer’s
home (premises}. FTTH has been developed in response to several
residential access market drivers, including the following:

• The Internet explosion, second line growth, the desire for higher
speeds, alternative strategies such as voice over DSL (VoDSL),
voice over IP (VoIP), voice over ATM (VoATM), and cable
modems

• The increased competition in the market due to the growing


number of competitive local-exchange carriers (CLECs), an
increase in services offered by application service providers
(ASPs),

• The Fiber to the Home (FTTH)


Council Europe calls on European
regulators to reconsider the
European Regulatory Framework,
saying that the current rules do not
allow national regulators to remove
uncertainties surrounding investments in 'deep' fiber deployment.

• It is commonly assumed that optical fiber will migrate deeper into


broadband access networks, supporting the rollout of higher
speed and symmetrical broadband services. All DSL technologies
are hampered by a trade-off between copper line-length and
speed. Shortening line lengths, by placing fiber closer to homes,
is advantageous for any broadband deployment capable of
supporting 'high-definition video' as the Commission's i-2010
strategy requires.

• Turn-up complexities that affect ease of deployment and


maintenance

• The declining costs of optical equipment

• Technology life cycles that dictate a need to deploy the right


technology at the right time and to future-proof existing networks

Fiber In The Loop

Fiber In The Loop (FITL) is a system implementing or upgrading portions


of the POTS local loop with fiber optic technology from the central office

December 2005 10
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

of a telephone carrier to a remote Serving Area Interface (SAI) located in


a neighbourhood or to an Optical Network Unit (ONU) located at the
customer premises (residential and/or business). Generally, fiber is used
in either all or part of the local loop distribution network. FITL includes
various architectures, such as fiber to the curb (FTTC), fiber to the home
(FTTH) and fiber to the premises (FTTP).

A similar network called a hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network is used by


cable television operators but is usually not synonymous with "fiber In the
loop", although similar advanced services are provided by the HFC
network.

December 2005 11
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Fiber To The Cabinet

FTTx network architecture (FTTCab – Fiber to the cabinet, FTTH – Fiber


to the home) is based on ATM Passive Optical Networks
(ATM-PONs, APONs). The FSAN recommended drop
technology is VDSL over copper pairs, where available.
However, this does not preclude the use of other drop
technologies and broadband radio represents an attractive
option. Its use would allow the fast deployment of services
where a wired access network is not readily available thus
providing added flexibility. Furthermore, broadband radio
has the advantage of low installation cost. The integration
of the two technologies is expected to result in an access network with
media independent services. This would provide added flexibility to
network operators enabling them to deploy the most suitable and efficient
technology for each sevice and reduce overall provisioning time. Fiber
has much higher capacity than copper - even copper aided by DSL - and
can therefore offer very fast downloads

Examples
Rowanet

ROWANet (rowan is one of Vysocina symbols) is based on optic fibers


and by CWDM (multiplex) technology. ROWANet project was prepared

for a 1 year period and we tried to find best way to create such an
extensive project. It was build on an experience from creating Jihlava city
metropolitan network (Jihlava city is a capital of the Vysocina region),
which has interconnected 22 public organizations established by the
region (schools, hospital, ambulance service, museum, gallery etc.), but

ROWANet was projected as a network of 150 km optic fibers, which goes

through 7 big towns and 3 villages. The idea is again to interconnect


public administration subjects and
organizations established by the region
and to bring them cheaper
telecommunication and data services. As there is possibility for the
private telecommunication operators

to own a part of the optic cable (on which ROWANet operates) they are
able to come to the underdeveloped areas to offer their services.

December 2005 12
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Anyway, ROWANet has indirect influence on the quality of services for


citizens (cheaper Internet connection) and on telecommunication

market and competition as well.

ROWANet is first ICT project manag d by ICT department of the Vysocina


Regional Authority, which is partially financed by region, national budget
and ERDF sources. Within the project we also create 10 public Internet

access points (Wi-Fi hot-spots) for citizens, which will be placed in every

municipality connected to ROWANet. The project deadline was fixed by


January 2006.

Brithish Telecom To Trial 'Fiber To The Cabinet'

BT are to start trials later this month, which will see BT installing its
DSLAM kit in street cabinets nearer to homes and businesses. Bringing
BT's broadband kit (DSLAMs) closer to end users, it will help deliver
broadband to pockets of the UK who are too far away from their local
exchanges to currently receive DSL.

0.2% of the country are unable to get DSL broadband (about 100,000
households). These trials will help BT assess the technicalities,
performance and cost of this strategy before rolling-out to other areas.

Broadband have-nots in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire are to take part in


trials designed to wire-up parts of the UK currently without DSL. Five sites
in Northern Ireland and four in Yorkshire will take par in the trials. The
trials are set to run through until the summer of 2006. BT will install their
DSLAM equipment installed in a street cabinet. This DSLAM will then be
connected back to the exchange using fiber optic cable..

The lucky areas to be involved in the trial are:

Yorkshire: Barnsley, Catcliffe, Doncaster, Great Houghton and


Dodworth, Wheatley Hill and Intake, Treeton and Brinsworth in
Rotherham.

Northern Ireland: Larne, the Annaghmore area of Portadown, Glenavy


area Crumlin, County Antrim, Greencastle area, Gortin, County Tyrone,
and the Balmoral area of Belfast.

Beginning in December, BT will also start separate trials near Dorchester,


Dorset, and in the Kingswells area of Aberdeen.

December 2005 13
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Västerbotten

Västerbotten is in the northern part of Sweden. It covers 66,500 square


kilometers and has 256,000 people. They have a regional network called
AC Net that has 50,000 users so far. There is a 1 Gbps backbone and it
is one of 22 European pilot regions within the RISI programme. Needless
to say, Västerbotten isn’t exactly a target market for service providers
until the municipality put the network in place and in essence,
“aggregated” demand. Today every community in Västerbotten has
access to the fiber network. A homeowner who wants a fiber connection
has to pay a one-time installation fee of 2000 SKr (€ 212 or $255) to
cover equipment plus labor, and a 250 SKr (€ 27 or $32) monthly fee. The
homeowner can deduct the installation fee on his tax return.

Much of the fiber to the home deployments in sparsely populated areas in


Sweden are done by the local energy utility, which is owned by the
municipality. Although many fiber projects are supported by public funds,
there are strict rules imposed by the European Union governing the use
of the publicly funded networks. Access has to be wholesaled to
commercial service providers on an open, non-discriminatory basis. This
guarantees that there will be private companies participating in the
exploitation of the network and also ensures that there is competition. At
the Brussels seminar, the city and utility representatives told us that they
did not want to become service providers to the end user and that in
many instances, had pulled out of the business when more private
companies began delivering access to residents and businesses. Their
goal is simply to deploy an open network and seed the market. This
seems to be the preferred public-private partnership model in Sweden, in
large part because of strict EU rules governing the use of public funds for
broadband infrastructure.

So with this in mind - a sparsely populated country with lots of water and
islands - you would think the Swedes would be making all kinds of silly
excuses not to make

Municipalities (and the national government) have been trying to break


open the local loop by enforcing open procurement procedures and
pushing for more operator-neutral networks. It seems to be working in
Sweden.

December 2005 14
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Power line trial

The Power Line Trial (PLT) project offers an opportunity to establish


affordable broadband communications in areas not able to receive
conventional telephone line or cable broadband services. The trial aims
to demonstrate the commercial potential of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
and PLT technology to deliver broadband to rural communities.

Current cable and telephone networks do not extend into rural areas, and
are unlikely to in the future, as the cost involved would be huge. By
sending information using the electricity network, which has almost 100
per cent coverage of the UK population, Internet Service Providers (ISP's)
would be able to offer affordable broadband services to all areas of the
UK.

As part of the PLT project, trials are taking place in Crieff and
Campbeltown. Crieff's trial is being run by SSE Telecom (the
telecommunications division of Scottish and Southern Energy plc), in
partnership with Perth and Kinross Council and Scottish Enterprise
Tayside. In Campbeltown, SSE Telecom is partnering with Highlands
and Islands Enterprise.

In Crieff a PLT network has been built to provide broadband ISP services
and direct connections to users. Broadband Internet is initially being
delivered to 13 sub-stations using conventional DSL technology. From
these sub-stations, PLT technology is used for the 'last mile' to the user's
building.

A PLT access box is fitted in the user’s premises. This is connected to


the incoming power supply by a 13-amp plug, and to the network device
or PC by a standard network cable. This means that Internet access is
brought to the customer through a normal power socket, without the need
to tie up an existing phone line or install a new one.

December 2005 15
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

Useful links:

EUROSCOM Eurescom is the leading organisation for collaborative


R&D in telecommunications. We provide efficient
management of research projects and programmes for
member companies and other clients. Companies who
wish to collaborate on the key issues facing the telecoms
industry are welcome to join the Eurescom community.
http://www.eurescom.de/

FTTH Council The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Europe is a


Europe market development organization whose mission is to
educate, promote, and accelerate the deployment of fiber
in access and the resulting quality-of-life enhancements.

http://www.europeftthcouncil.com/

Scottish Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic


Enterprise development agency, funded by the Scottish Executive.
Our mission is to help the people and businesses of
Scotland succeed. In doing so, we aim to build a world-
class economy \

http://www.scottish-enterprise.com/

Region http://extranet.krvysocina.cz/jazykoveverze/uk/index.php?
Vysocina stranka=regadmin.htm

Naturnet New Education and Decision Support Model for Active


Redime Behaviour in Sustainable Development Based on
Innovative Web Services and Qualitative Reasoning

www.naturnet.org

Rural Wings The EU-backed Rural Wings project is using satellite


technology to reach schools in remote communities on
three continents and provide them with high-speed
internet access.

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/headlines/news/article
_04_12_15_en.html

December 2005 16
Technology Report 3: Wired Broadband solutions for rural Europe

December 2005 17