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Broadband World Forum
24-26 October 2023, Porte de Versailles
24-26 October 2023, Porte de Versailles

Huawei's AirPON - to deliver fiber-based home broadband in an agile, fast and cost-effective way

Better broadband needs higher bandwidth with rapid and low-cost deployment

Written by Marcus Brunner, Chief Expert Standardisation, Huawei

In the early stages of full-service transformation, mobile operators mainly rely on the advantage of quick service provisioning using wireless technologies to deploy broadband networks and quickly attract home broadband users. However, during the expansion of home broadband services, user demand for higher bandwidth is increasing rapidly. Wireless technologies only support, depending on the region, limited bandwidth compared with 100+ Mbps provided by fixed-line operators. Operators using wireless technologies are gradually losing market share. Moreover, FTTH with optical fiber is the best weapon to face competitors. Taking advantage of the customer loyalty fostered by wireless technology, operators can switch their users to FTTH quickly, therefore achieving steady growth in the home broadband field.

AirPON - A new way to deliver fibre-based broadband

To power a full-service strategy and quickly develop fixed broadband services, Huawei and several mobile operators jointly launched AirPON at the end of 2019 to meet typical requirements for fast, low-cost construction. Huawei began deploying the AirPON E2E solution using operators’ mobile network sites and resources, including pole-mounted outdoor cabinets M50 with built-in mini OLT, Blade OLT, uneven splitting, and E2E pre-connected Digitized ODN. Huawei’s AirPON solution has the following advantages on top of fast construction:

The Huawei AirPON solution is made for operators to bring PON further away from the traditional locations for lower cost ODN deployment in different scenarios. Based on AirPON, operators can build a fixed and mobile merged network that improves connections for end-users by reusing physical mobile network resources including space, power, and backhaul. Also, operators with limited feeder resource can benefit of AirPON OLTs deployed further away, thus delivering a premium broadband service experience for home users.

To transform from a mobile operator into a full-service provider requires FTTH network construction. However, to do so also needs the deployment of centralized OLTs in the aggregation equipment room and large number and long-distance Optical Distribution Networks (ODN)– up to 20 km – to cover home broadband users. In addition to high investment in the initial phase, operators also have to go through the complex process of obtaining Right of Way (ROW) for the long-distance ODN, which usually draws out the project deployment period to a year and costs more than US$500 per home passed (depending on the region).

Huawei launched the AirPON solution as part of its strategy to develop 10G PON-ready Gigabit FTTH networks based on small sites, outdoor sites, or mobile sites and its available resources. AirPON greatly improves the efficiency and flexibility of operators when it comes to building fixed networks by reconstructing FMC planning. It also shifts network connections away from a large central office (CO), instead of connecting the ODN network via the OLT from a mobile site, making it much closer to home users. Therefore, it sharply decreases the TCO of overall network construction.

24-26 October 2023, Porte de Versailles

"Based on AirPON, operators can build a fixed and mobile merged network that improves connections for end users by reusing physical mobile network resources including space, power, and backhaul."

Benefits of AirPON solutions

To ensure sustainable growth in the market, operators need to optimize their home broadband and network construction strategies. Considering ROI, building AirPON-based 10G PON-ready all-optical access networks is the best choice at present for fast, low-cost network construction and quick service provisioning at higher broadband speeds.

Lower TCO due to a shorter ODN distance: A traditional ODN covers up to 20 km, which AirPON reduces to between 1 km and 500 m. Far fewer optical cables and cores are required by making better use of existing fibre resources. The Right of Way (ROW) acquisition is simplified and network construction is more efficient. The solution improves the deployment efficiency of workers and reduces deployment complexity, solving the problems of high costs and long construction times and cutting TCO by 30 percent.

Zero site acquisition and reused mobile sites, fibre, and power supply: Traditionally, OLTs must be installed in the CO, which requires 10 people and six months for CO site preparation. However, Huawei’s industry-first pole-mounted M50 outdoor cabinet features a built-in mini OLT and full compact outdoor Blade OLT, which is similar in size and to install as a wireless Blade BBU. It shares sites with mobile base stations and reuses backhaul networks and power supply for fast deployment in just one day by two people.

Zero fibre splicing and Digitized ODN: Traditionally, fibre splicing and ODN deployment is difficult and requires dedicated tools. However, Huawei’s Digitized ODN solution pre-connects all cables between an OLT and users without the need for fibre splicing and digitizes the ODN deployment process. The construction cycle is reduced from 220 minutes and four people per home passed to 40 minutes and two people per home passed, increasing efficiency by 70 percent.

Zero configuration and OLT/ONT plug-and-play: OLTs support zero-touch deployment (ZTD) and require zero onsite software commissioning, reducing labour costs by 60 percent. ONTs support zero-touch provision (ZTP), plug-and-play, and cloud authentication without home visits. Including OLT upstream service provisioning and user-side Internet access tests, E2E FTTH service provision can be completed within 1 day.

The AirPON-based network construction pattern is currently deployed by some operators in the emerging market. By providing FTTH services, it increases the bandwidth of low- and medium-speed users connected on wireless technologies, helping operators improve user loyalty, reduce churn, and handle market competition. Successful implementation has proven that the Huawei AirPON solution leads the way in FMC construction efficiency.

Moving Forward

AirPON can help operators rapidly cover high-value, highly competitive areas with FTTH, and launch service packages with a minimum bandwidth of 100 Mbps based on full-fibre access networks.

Operators can also develop the gigabit leased line market and gradually introduce new services such as 4K and cloud VR to provide users with converged broadband. This strategy will enhance user loyalty, reduce churn rate, and increase ARPU. Based on AirPON, operators can build a fixed and mobile merged network that improves connections for end-users by using mobile physical mobile network resources, thus delivering a premium broadband service experience for home and enterprise users.

Written by Dr.Marcus Banner, Chief Expert Standardisation

Marcus Brunner is Huawei’s Chief Expert for the programme to define the next generation end-to-end fixed network architecture including all-fibre networks, digitized ODN deployment processes, cloud-oriented control and management platforms, use of optical networking on premise and for special industrial and other vertical applications. This allows for new classes of applications and services with requirements of very high reliability, low delay, and a massive amount of optical connections. He has plenty of publications and patents granted and is a long term contributor to various activities in the telecommunication industry including self-management, QoS, MPLS-TP, SDN, and was a driver towards cloud-native operators based on ETSI NFV.


Join Huawei at this year's Broadband World Forum as Jeffry Zhou, President of Access Network Product Line, takes the stage for the session; 'Providing a Brighter Future with Full Fibre Connectivity' on 13th October at 10 am.