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Huawei Lights Fiber to the Home

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Huawei Lights Fiber to the Home

Background

As a leading telecommunications operator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (known as Etisalat) has privately financed a large Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) network that covers most of the country. Abu Dhabi has becomes the first capital city in the world that is completely connected to a fiber optic network.

Etisalat offers mobile and fixed-line services in 19 countries to a total of more than 140 million customers.

Challenges

Before 2007, Etisalat had a mainly copper-based fixed-line network in the UAE, but the company faced several challenges with this network. ADSL and ADSL2+ failed to meet increasing bandwidth demands, and VDSL2 was inefficient for covering remote and scattered residential communities.

The equipment for these broadband technologies also had reliability and cost issues. Etisalat used several types of access equipment and required a large number of copper-based central offices, each covering a radius of less than 6 km. These complex networks were difficult and expensive to maintain.

Solution

Etisalat decided on an FTTH strategy to achieve both high bandwidth and a simpler network architecture. The company already had some backbone fiber, Fiber-To-The-Curb/-Building (FTTC/FTTB), and Hybrid Fiber Cable (HFC) for CATV. The new network architecture used this existing fiber and leveraged Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology for wide coverage with fewer exchanges. The use of passive optical technology eliminated the need for active components outside the exchanges.

Etisalat’s GPON architecture uses feeder rings based on Optical Line Terminals (OLTs), and these rings feed distribution networks with star topologies. To ensure that the network design was sound, Etisalat used a Huawei test lab to simulate the network environment and perform high-load capacity tests. With assurance from these tests, Etisalat deployed Huawei’s high-capacity convergent OLT, which supports more than 16,000 users with a single subrack. Fiber access can extend to 20 km, so Etisalat has gradually eliminated many exchanges.

Increased single-node capacity requires highly reliable equipment. The Huawei OLT’s main control unit, uplink unit, and power supply work in active/standby mode to enhance reliability. Combined with 1+1 protection for interfaces, this level of redundancy helps achieve 99.999% system availability.

The network architecture uses Point-to-Multipoint (P2MP) fiber connections for home subscribers. These links support Etisalat’s triple-play service offering. The company also uses P2P connections to meet specific commercial requirements.

Etisalat still has some subscribers on copper connections and some subscribers in remote or low-density areas connected via 3G cellular and other wireless technology. However, Etisalat has now activated more than a million subscribers on fiber in the UAE to achieve one of the highest FTTH penetration levels of any country.

Benefits

By the end of 2010, Etisalat had met its agreement with the government to cover Abu Dhabi and 80 percent of the UAE with FTTH. As part of the Abu Dhabi fiber coverage, Etisalat provided service to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure. The 828m high building offers 1,044 luxury apartments, 49 floors of offices, and a 160-room Armani hotel. Etisalat provides communication services for the entire building using Huawei’s SingleFAN FTTx solution, which delivers broadband services that include voice, high-speed Internet access, and HD IPTV.

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