Review Step 2c: Characteristics & Trade-offs

Optical Fibre

Optical fibre technology transports the vast majority of global IP data traffic, carrying 99 per cent of international cross-border Internet traffic over terrestrial and undersea fibre cables. In backhaul, fibre’s price per capacity is one of the more cost-effective connectivity technologies. Fibre is also increasingly deployed in access networks as it becomes cheaper and less complex to install. It is typically deployed right to the premises or to a nearby cabinet in a local neighbourhood (where existing copper or wireless is used to transmit the final distance). Fibre has several advantages: high performance, high data capacity and low transmission error rates. However, it remains a relatively high-cost access technology. Spectrum Regime: Not Applicable (Wired technology) Coverage area: Wide area, though requires physical installation Device costs: High, for the active network equipment and civil works component of deployments *Note however that with Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM), using multiple frequencies of light on a fiber, the capacity of optical fiber can continuously be upgraded with improved technology. Passive Optical Network (PON) technology, particularly the Gigabit PON (GPON), is increasingly being deployed as a way for optical fiber technology can reach the end-user premise (home or office) in a more affordable manner as the active network equipment extends only to a central exchange. See figure on next slide.* Deployment costs for fibre backhaul vary widely and are affected mainly by the civil works and regulatory compliance costs. A review of one publicly subsidized United States government programme for middle-mile deployment revealed a wide range of average costs per mile of fibre deployment, from about USD 65 million for the most cost-effective 10,000 miles of fibre to nearly USD 820 million for the least cost-effective 10,000 miles, or USD 6,500 per most cost-effective mile to USD 82,000 per least cost-effective mile. In estimates for cost structures of fibre deployments, on average around 45% of network operations relate directly to deployment costs (recovery of capital expenditure) reflecting their capital-intensive nature. They can be overcome by focusing on aerial fibre via telephone or electrical pole attachment, although it can, in some cases, be cumbersome to obtain the requisite regulatory approval or commercial agreements. In some jurisdictions, policies can be adopted to facilitate fibre deployments (e.g. “dig once“policy , easing rights of way, or the One-Touch Make-Ready pole attachment).