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The Biggest Problem with FTTH Rollout is GPON Network Inventory Management – Here’s How you can Fix it

7 June 2022
Mike Dorland

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

For network operators, Fibre to the Home is already changing the rules of the game. GPON networks will become the backbone of service innovation and the foundation on which the battle for future market share will be fought. In the race to build out and deploy, telcos must move beyond a “build it and they will come” mentality. Rolling out Gigabit Passive Optical Networks is one challenge. Managing those networks effectively presents another that’s just as critical to long-term success – and delivering outstanding services.

FTTH: operators are aggressively pursuing opportunity but to succeed, they need to have the right long-term plan

The rollout of Fibre to the Home (FTTH) networks is critically depending on GPON network inventory management. That’s a bold claim but in this blog, we’ll explain why that’s essential and how you can take control to ensure success. 

FTTH unlocks a myriad of opportunities for service innovation and is in full flow. In Belgium, Germany, and the UK homes passed by fibre networks increased by over 60% in the year to September 2020. Deutsche Telekom anticipates its fibre network will pass 10 million homes by 2020 while BT Openreach’s buildout aims to connect 4 million homes a year culminating in a network that reaches 25 million premises (versus around 20% of that total today). According to the FTTH Council / IDATE, the number of homes that can be connected to full fibre in Europe (EU + UK) is expected to double to approximately 200 million by 2026. 

While those numbers suggest there’s a lot of challenging building work to be done, particularly in countries that are presently lagging, it’s critical that network operators, at this relatively early stage, look beyond a “build it and they will come” mentality to address the key question of network inventory management at the outset. Given that it’s possible, or even likely that the networks which gain first mover advantage may serve most clients in any given geography, to exploit the potential commercial benefits of FTTH, the right supporting infrastructure will need to be in place from the start.

Passive Optical Networks solve today’s problem(s)

For operators, none of this should come as a surprise.  Demand for Internet bandwidth alone is doubling every year and “high-speed” protocols like xDSL, have been little more than stopgap (although highly valuable) measures to enable them to keep pace. FTTH permanently eliminates the slowdown (and it doesn’t take too many users streaming music, playing games, or downloading video to overwhelm the copper network). For Passive Optical Networks (PON), the time has thus come.

PON, and in particular its foundational Gigabit PON incarnation (GPON) is an essential tool when it comes to maximizing fiber coverage and reaching the last mile. Defined in the recommendation ITU-T G.984.1, the technology is considered stable and mature (even though minor optical enhancements continue to be made).

Read more and find out all you need to know about PON, GPON and how you can manage your GPON investments to maximize efficiency and returns.

Altogether now: PON assets, legacy assets, and the challenge of network inventory management

Like any investment in the network, FTTH is expensive to build out. And build out is a step that cannot be taken in isolation from the subsequent demands of managing the resulting infrastructure. New fiber deployments running alongside existing elements and other assets present unique challenges and demands the operator must address.  

This reality should drive a unified approach to network management encompassing legacy, current and future deployments simultaneously. Of particular importance to FTTH buildout now is the efficient registration of (G)PON assets into a single, unified inventory management solution that boosts operational performance while at the same time enabling effective forward planning.

If this sounds straightforward, it isn’t. That’s not least because few OSS systems can handle the differing requirements PON presents, leading to a familiar (to network operators) result:  a struggle with multiple incomplete systems, which in most cases are not synchronized with each other.  This is a significant and urgent problem. If such a unifying solution isn’t in place at the outset, then FTTH rollout will likely still go ahead but inventory management will become a secondary priority creating major problems down the road. 

A few months after network rollout, a massive network data issue will suddenly have to be addressed and won’t, by that time, be easy to resolve.

The fix: GPON network inventory management from the start

To not only rollout but also to fully leverage their investment in fiber and avoid the sort of issues described above, network operators must deploy a best-in-class PON network inventory management solution at the outset, not after FTTH buildout is completed but as plans are conceived. 

This solution must address a comprehensive range of requirements, in a single system – so the operator can ensure effective registration of all PON assets, right from the very beginning. It must also integrate with the GPON Network Management System (NMS) and/or Network Equipment (NE) to keep the GPON network performing optimally. 

IMS Network Planning and Network Inventory from VC4, a company with a 20-year track-record of delivering network inventory management solutions, does exactly this with a complete OSS suite that has all the required functionalities from FTTH buildout available in a single application. The challenges and requirements noted in this blog are comprehensively addressed by the VC4-IMS Network Planning and Network Inventory system.

They include:

  • Registration of active PON network elements
  • Registration of passive PON network elements
  • Registration of fiber networks
    Registration of physical network connections
  • Registration of logical network connections and parameters
  • Registration of customer services and parameters
  • Relationships with other networks
    Workflow and order management
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Bills of materials
  • Network reconciliation
  • IP management

and others.

Successful GPON buildout with VC4 IMS

For those who’d like to learn more, we’d recommend downloading VC4’s comprehensive Guide to GPON and IMS. Taking the broad FTTH network requirements listed here, the guide provides a detailed understanding of all the specific challenges involved in successfully managing both GPON buildout and subsequently running the network itself.

VC4’s solutions help operators to plan and manage their network investments efficiently and effectively via solutions that span across their entire infrastructure and grow with the business.