The Intelligent Access Network Powers Digital Acceleration
Guest blog by Liliane Offredo-Zreik , ACG Research.
Sponsored by Teleste Intercept
The digital acceleration, unleashed by the public health emergency, has transformed the home into a hub of digital service delivery with far-reaching implications for the residential access infrastructure.
The home becomes a digital hub.
Until recently, home broadband was primarily used for streaming, e-commerce, general browsing, and gaming. During the pandemic, new usage patterns emerged: telehealth, e-education, work from home, and a significant increase in streaming, gaming, and e-commerce. These use cases are being developed into full-fledged new services that are likely to become mainstay for years. The home is the new branch office and is the place where mission-critical services will increasingly be delivered. What are some of these services, and how will the access network evolve to enable them?.
- Work from home was born out of necessity during the public health emergency but has gained enormous traction and is becoming a major and desirable work modality for many employers and employees.
- Online education has received a bad rap as it proved wholly inadequate for K−12 education. However, there is significant innovation and a major transformation in the broader online education.
- Home health is gaining traction. A seismic shift is happening in healthcare. Aside from telehealth, more health services will be delivered in the home, including hospital-level services.
- Gaming and streaming will continue to grow and impose ever more stringent requirements such as low latency.
- The metaverse is the new Internet, where experiences become multidimensional.
- Other services such as crypto mining.
Home broadband is underpinning the digital fabric that is enabling almost every aspect of life. This means that bandwidth capacity needs, both upstream and downstream, will continue their upward trajectory, and reliability and service quality will be increasingly critical.
Enabling future digital services in the home
As services delivered in the home become more mission critical and customers’ expectations of service reliability and availability increase significantly, the service delivery infrastructure needs to provide more reliability and service availability; these capabilities can only be enabled by intelligence and automation. This intelligence should be embedded in every element of the network. Although this has started to happen, less attention has been given to network elements that are located between the node and the subscriber, for example, the amplifiers. This must change.
Traditional amplifiers are prone to signal degradation because of heat, particularly at high levels of bandwidth consumption, ambient temperatures, ingress, and other factors. Traditionally, these amplifiers have been adjusted manually by field technicians. Not only is this reactive rather than proactive, but it is also time consuming and requires additional truck rolls and higher labor costs.
Replacing traditional amplifiers with intelligent ones, complemented by remote network management tools, possibly done as part of a spectrum upgrade project, leads to service quality improvements and lower opex and capex. Some examples:
- Automatic ingress detection and remediation, which can be done remotely rather than by an onsite technician, leads to better service availability and quality without the need for truck rolls.
- Automatic self-aligning enables the amplifier to use software to automatically self-configure upon set up and under a remote technician’s supervision, to set up performance parameters.
- Smart troubleshooting uses data collected from prior incidents to remotely troubleshoot issues, such as signal loss and other potential causes of signal deterioration, before simply replacing the unit without understanding the reasons for failure.
- Smart maintenance uses data collected over time to inform technicians’ decisions regarding preventive maintenance rather than send technicians to maintain units based on a set schedule.
- Automatic adjustment to a split frequency change resulting from a swap of a diplex filter model. The intelligent amplifier automatically adjusts to the new frequency for optimal alignment. In this case, the duration of the truck roll is significantly reduced because the technician is only swapping a module without a need for manual realignment.
- Optimized inventory resulting from using data to make better informed decisions on the need for replacement of the units in full and in part, based on failure trends rather than using replacements as the default methodology to repair faults.
- Power savings, when the full spectrum is not fully utilized (for example, after a 1.8 GHz upgrade) intelligent amplifiers automatically detect the actual load, enabling an automatic reduction in the current, which leads to as much as 20% in power savings.
- Better throughput, particularly in 1.8 GHz spectrum; the ability to automatically control power levels and to compensate for temperature variability enable operators to operate amplifiers at optimal levels with minimal signal margins (which can only be done automatically), leading to alignment and stability, which delivers more Gb/s throughput downstream and upstream.
The benefits of intelligent automation in the access network are field proven. Operators that have deployed intelligent amplifiers have reported a significant improvement in MTTR and reduction in operating costs. Some data points from field deployments :
- Up to 60% reduction in truck rolls
- 30 minutes faster repair of ingress and CPD conditions
- 30% reduction in customers’ calls and trouble tickets due to preventive actions and improved network reliability
- 100% avoidance of seasonal network maintenance visits
The time for intelligence and automation throughout the access network is now. As networks are upgraded to meet market demands, inserting intelligence in every component is necessary, not an option.
About the author
Liliane Offredo-Zreik ia a Principal Analyst with ACG Research; her research and advisory efforts focus on the evolution of the broadband delivery infrastructure and on how broadband, and technology more broadly, are driving a profound change in healthcare and powering the fast evolution of digital health. She has extensive telecommunications and cable industry experience with a focus on market dynamics, and product and go to market strategies. She brings to her research areas significant industry experience, having held leadership roles with many major service providers and industry vendors, and having been a Wall Street industry analyst. Liliane has an MBA from Harvard Business School, a master’s in electrical engineering from Cornell University, and a BSEE from Syracuse University.