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    Build a Green All-Optical Base for Smart Education With the Huawei FTTO Solution

Huawei's FTTO solution has seen significant uptake globally, ranging from primary and secondary schools to vocational colleges and universities. In all of these settings, it is helping to enrich teaching modes, optimize teaching environments, and reinvent teaching concepts. In the future, Huawei will continue to work closely with partners to promote technical innovation and application implementation, and ultimately unleash more industry potential.
Gu Yunbo
President of Huawei Optical Business Enterprise Domain
author pc

Education lies at the heart of national development. Countries around the world are therefore focused on achieving the digital transformation of education, making it an important development goal. Huawei's FTTO solution builds a unified bearer network that is fully connected, sensed, and intelligent for all teaching, management, and research services. This solution meets the construction and reconstruction requirements of campus networks in all kinds of scenarios and builds a green all-optical base for smart education.

Digital capabilities are increasingly being integrated into education at the same time as digital technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are emerging. This, in turn, is driving the education field to redefine what the learning experience, personalized teaching, and student development mean. Recent years have seen one country after another launch national digital development strategies to implement scientific, technological, and economic development. The aim is to promote digital transformation in the education field, so as not to miss opportunities for future development.

The European Union (EU), Japan, Singapore, and China, for instance, have all formulated laws and action plans to drive infrastructure construction and the digital transformation of education, as well as provide high-speed, convenient, green, and secure network services. Indeed, smart education is gaining traction around the world, especially in terms of new education methods, education resource sharing, and going green and low carbon.

Accordingly, smart campuses are being constructed around the world for multiple scenarios and services. This results in new teaching environments and methods that are highly demanding in terms of data collection and transmission. That's why networks — as the foundation of smart campus construction — need to provide higher rates and wider coverage, all while ensuring network security and environmental protection.

New smart teaching applications are transforming how teaching is carried out. As the resulting explosion in traffic cannot be carried on existing network bandwidth, network capacity needs to be expanded. In universities, smart classrooms and large-scale open online teaching have become commonplace. In the basic education field, a major area of focus is expanding the egress bandwidth of schools.

Along with the constant rollout of new services, such as remote education, digital libraries, and cloud-based teaching, there are more and more daily life scenarios on smart campuses. For example, a large number of IoT terminals — such as all-in-one card readers, smart water and electricity meters, water heaters, laundry machines, and charging piles — require the integration of network resources. The surge of applications and services places growing pressure on the coordination of resources such as equipment rooms, further taxing network deployment. Worse, provisioning network services becomes more complex and rolling out new services takes an unacceptably long time.

Due to complex networks and services, the fault rate of ring network storms is increasing. Given that traditional Operations and Maintenance (O&M) methods are unable to detect the experience of all users at all times, they simply cannot guarantee the network experience of teachers and students.

Using the Huawei FTTO Solution to Build a Green All-Optical Base for Smart Campuses

F5G — the fifth generation of fixed networks — uses optical fiber as the communications medium. F5G has several advantages, from ultra-high bandwidth and a guaranteed experience, to simplified O&M, making it a great fit for smart campus construction.

Harnessing F5G, the Huawei Fiber to the Office (FTTO) solution replaces aggregation switches with passive optical splitters in Extra-Low Voltage (ELV) rooms and other public areas. Fibers are extended to the network edge and connected to Optical Network Units (ONUs), which replace access switches and are deployed near service access points such as offices, dormitories, and classrooms. Compared with traditional campus network solutions, the F5G-based Huawei FTTO solution has a range of key advantages.

Simplified architecture and significant energy saving: In addition to low-carbon and eco-friendly fibers, an all-optical network uses a flat two-layer network structure and replaces active devices at the traditional aggregation layer with a passive Optical Distribution Network (ODN), overcoming the 100 m transmission distance limitation of copper cables. In addition, it cuts required ELV room space and cabling by 80%, while power consumption falls by 30%, enabling sustainable campus development.

Ultra-high bandwidth future-proof networks: The upstream and downstream bandwidth of all-optical networks can smoothly evolve from 2.5 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s or even 50 Gbit/s. A Dynamic Bandwidth Allocation (DBA) algorithm is used to dynamically adjust bandwidth to meet the varying requirements of smart classrooms and Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)-based immersive teaching applications. Integrated online and offline teaching provides teachers and students with a premium experience. In addition, fibers are corrosion-resistant and have a service life of up to 30 years. This means that, when it's time to upgrade network bandwidth, only boards or even just optical modules need to be replaced.

Smart and simple O&M means one person can manage an entire campus: An all-optical network integrates wired, wireless, Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G networks, implementing unified O&M and configuration delivery management on the Network Management System (NMS). And because ONUs are plug-and-play and hot-swappable, O&M is simplified, costs are reduced, and O&M efficiency improves by 60%.

High security and reliability provide dual protection for link data: Based on 10 Gigabit Symmetrical Passive Optical Network (XGS-PON) and Gigabit Ethernet Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology, the Huawei FTTO solution uses a brand new, enhanced frame format and a more comprehensive encryption function. Common Ethernet frame format analysis software cannot capture or identify the frame format, let alone encapsulated packets. So, compared to an Ethernet access solution, the Huawei FTTO solution is more secure and reliable, making it suitable for various campus scenarios. In addition, hard pipe slicing technology can be used for network isolation, dividing a physical network into multiple physical-like networks. This technology supports multi-network integration and ensures hard isolation between multiple networks for dedicated use.

Long distance coverage brings equity in education: Class-D optical modules support an ultra-long transmission distance of 40 km, making them great for unified network construction of district and county education metro networks. Indeed, just one network covers all primary and secondary schools in a district or county. This is achieved through interconnection between schools and education bureaus, and by sharing resources between urban and rural schools, which ultimately reduces the construction and O&M costs of a single campus network. In addition, the Huawei FTTO solution allows high-quality teaching resources to be shared more widely, promoting equity in education.

Global Success Cases

Huawei's FTTO solution has seen significant uptake globally, ranging from primary and secondary schools to vocational colleges and universities. In all of these settings, it is helping to enrich teaching modes, optimize teaching environments, and reinvent teaching concepts.

The University of Canada in Egypt is a benchmark all-optical smart campus in Cairo: Invested in by Cape Breton University (located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada), the University of Canada in Egypt is a high-end comprehensive private university that adopted the Huawei FTTO solution to deploy networks for its new campus in 2018. After carrying out a site survey, it found that the horizontal distance of the library exceeded 200 m. In a traditional solution, two ELV rooms would have been necessary on each floor. However, adopting the Huawei FTTO solution, less cabling was needed and the amount of ELV room space required was also drastically reduced, bringing down engineering costs. The university chose the Huawei FTTO solution to provide unified access for data, video, and voice services. Now, a stable campus network provides a premium user experience and is helping the university transform toward state-of-the-art teaching methods. Teachers and students enjoy smooth use of diverse Internet education applications at any time, wherever they are on campus.

CSU builds a smart campus network for teaching and scientific research: Central South University (CSU), a key university in Changsha, Hunan province, China, adopted an all-optical network solution in its old campus as early as 2014. In 2021, during network construction for the university's new campus as well as a network upgrade for its old location, CSU chose the Huawei FTTO solution to reconstruct its campus network, bringing with it significant upgrades, featuring wired and wireless convergence and full wireless coverage. The campus network supports more than 60,000 concurrent online users, bringing a premium experience to teaching and wider campus life. High bandwidth is enabling Ultra-High Definition (UHD) remote teaching for clinical trials in CSU's Xiangya School of Medicine. Moreover, because the FTTO solution is all-optical, it is not susceptible to electromagnetic interference or aging, ensuring high security and reliability of network applications in labs. The basic teaching network is deeply integrated with certain courses such as railway, medical care, and metal smelting, helping CSU build a smart campus that integrates teaching, scientific research, and management. To date, more than 50 key universities in China, such as Fudan University and Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, have opted for the Huawei FTTO solution.

Suqian's all-optical education metro network promotes equity in education: The government of the city of Suqian, located in China's Jiangsu province, planned to build a high-quality education metro network in 2021, to implement ICT-based education and achieve equal access to education, city-wide. After the all-optical education metro network was built, Class-D optical modules were used to implement ultra-long-haul transmission over 40 km, covering 21 more schools than the traditional solution and connecting 100% of schools in the city. Resources are centrally managed, with Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) deployed in the central equipment room. No ELV rooms are needed in branch schools. The entire network is centrally managed and visualized, delivering 50% higher O&M efficiency. With the Huawei FTTO solution, the education metro network provides full-fiber access to the classroom and enables smooth evolution from 2.5G to 10G and 50G, helping to achieve the goal of equity in education across Suqian.

Constant Innovation for Smarter Education

To better meet the needs of teachers and students, Huawei works with partners to build fiber broadband networks featuring 10G to the school and gigabit to the desktop, making innovative activities such as remote teaching, collaborative learning, and immersive learning achievable and convenient. Through technology and product innovation, the network quality of universities is being significantly improved. One network is used to carry all services in multiple campus scenarios, making smart campus construction more efficient and convenient. In addition, the Huawei FTTO solution supports the overall upgrade of campus network infrastructure and promotes state-of-the-art ICT-based education. In doing so, costs are reduced and efficiency is improved, as the organic integration of the Internet and education becomes a reality. In the future, Huawei will continue to work closely with partners to promote technical innovation and application implementation, ultimately unleashing more industry potential.