UBBF 2021: Huawei’s All-Optical Network Strategy


November 8, 2021


The proliferation of high-bandwidth applications, cloud services, and the digitalization of industry verticals is impacting the telecoms services landscape by increasing customer demands on service capacity, quality, security, and availability. At UBBF 2021 in Dubai last month, we presented our vision of all-optical network architecture for boosting business use cases, enabling massive fiber access rollout, and streamlining end-to-end optical networks operation.

In this blog post, GlobalData’s Emir Halilovic considers our optical tech and potential it has to transform networks and operations.

UBBF 2021 brought together the leading telecoms players. One of the key topics on the agenda was the major challenges facing the telecoms industry today. Primary among those are the constant traffic increase and growth in demand for high bandwidth and high-quality connectivity, the increased use of cloud services, industry vertical digitalization and cloudification, and a deep impact of mobile industry evolution to 5G impacting underlying networks.

According to GlobalData’s market tracking and forecasts, residential segment broadband connections reached 1.27 billion in 2020, with 7% yoy growth, with FTTH accounting for practically all new growth. Notably, the number of business connections increased by 8% in the same period, reflecting higher broadband take-up in small and medium enterprises as well as the smaller branch offices of large enterprises. Usage patterns are changing as well – instead of the legacy traffic pattern that primarily connected branches with private data centers, enterprise traffic is becoming increasingly cloud-centric.

At UBBF 2021, Huawei presented an array of solutions designed to enable sustainable business growth and service diversification for operators. Huawei’s all-optical network innovation can roughly be divided into two main network domains:

1. FTTx Access Innovation

Huawei’s approach to FTTx access and optical edge focuses on network deployment flexibility, lowering network deployment cost and complexity, and tighter integration between access and transport network elements. Its SingleFAN Pro solution, presented at UBBF event, encompasses two solution elements:

i) Facilitates Network Deployment

According to different industry sources, passive infrastructure – in this case optical distribution network (ODN) – accounts for the majority of FTTx network deployment costs. Moreover, active network equipment is subject to price decreases in accordance with technology maturity cycles and mass-market deployment. Conversely, passive infrastructure costs remain very much constant, or grow over time in line with the increase in labor costs, construction equipment and work, and real estate prices. Huawei’s solution to alleviate the deployment issues facing FTTP operators is DQ ODN, a pre-connectorized, low-insertion-loss ODN network solution, supporting all deployment scenarios without splicing. Additionally, Huawei’s DQ ODN features introduce monitoring of optical signals as they pass through the ODN, enabling the accurate management of ODN topology. In conjunction with Huawei’s network management system, it also enables fast service provisioning and precise fault location.

When it comes to active FTTH equipment, Huawei presented an update on its AirPON solution, enabling operators to deploy FTTH with a small footprint, ruggedized OLTs using mobile network locations and infrastructure, and utility poles for aerial cabling. By Q3 2021, the solution has been deployed in 60 operator networks worldwide, with more than 25,000 sites and 30 million homes passed.

ii) In-Home Connectivity

For many operators, in-home connectivity has become a focus area due to the high number of customer connectivity issues linked to in-home Wi-Fi interference, device misconfiguration, or failures.

At UBBF 2021, Huawei presented a portfolio of ONT solutions, positioned to maximize customer experience in accordance with connection bandwidth deployed. For customer connections below 500 Mbps, Huawei positions its Wi-Fi 5 range of ONTs. For connections faster than 500 Mbps, Huawei offers WiFi 6 ONTs. Finally, for the most demanding use cases, such as high-bandwidth connections serving larger premises, Huawei has propose its fiber-to-the-room (FTTR) solution, using pre-connectorized optical fiber links powering Wi-Fi access points in every room of the household. Going forward, FTTR is likely to gain in importance, due to the increasing level of fiber interference experienced in multi-dwelling units. Another long-term factor is impending capacity discrepancy between growing broadband access bandwidths – reaching multi-Gbps capacities – and WiFi transmission speeds, which are not growing at the same pace. In this context, FTTR can solve the in-home bandwidth bottleneck by ensuring interference-free connectivity throughout the household, with Wi-Fi capacity closely matched to broadband connection bandwidth.

2. Metro and Backbone

The services that residential, enterprise, and wholesale customers use on operator networks are driving increasing bandwidth demand, which, in turn, increase the traffic load in metro and backbone networks. Additionally, in many cases the application driving traffic increases, originating in residential and enterprise domains, benefit from lower latency. At the same time, operators ideally need to limit their investment into new fiber deployment, which favors solutions that increase fiber utilization. Huawei’s solutions presented at UBBF therefore focus on both aspects:

Improved Spectral Efficiency: In fiber utilization, Huawei presented its Super C+L DWDM solution, allowing operators to address 11 THz of spectrum in a single fiber. This translates into 80-wavelength capacity in a single fiber, supporting 32 Tbps with next-generation high performance 400G wavelengths.

OTN to the Edge: Huawei is a strong proponent of convergence between fiber access and optical transport. At UBBF 2021, it presented several solutions aimed at this space, like highly integrated OT devices that can be co-sited with FTTx OLTs, or mobile network BBUs, and Blade OXC optical cross-connects aimed at providing highly compact and efficient optical switching at edge sites. Additionally, these highly integrated Edge OTN devices support OSU traffic encapsulation, allowing operators to deploy OTN-based private line services with granularity from 2 Mbps to 100 Gbps, covering a large spectrum of enterprise use cases.

Improved QoS and Private Line Support: Huawei’s primary method for improving network services quality is based on deploying OTN directly to edge network nodes (both in fixed and mobile scenarios), and even directly to client sites, with P2P or P2MP OTN private lines. This way, the services can be provided with minimal number of “hops” between client endpoint and cloud-based applications, lowring latency and improving performance. Additionally, using OTN-based connectivity services allows operators to support deterministic and isolated services, ensuring the high quality of services in demanding scenarios like IoT.

OLT/OTN Integration: With its Edge OTN range, Huawei is bringing OLT and OTN access devices closer together, creating converged fiber access and OTN transport nodes. Beyond improving connection quality through reducing network complexity and improving access/transport coordination, Huawei’s approach enhances end-to-end fixed network slicing capability, thus improving operator flexibility in providing differentiated QoS for different user segments. Additionally, operating common fixed access and optical transport nodes can reduce service time to market and service provisioning. Also, converging access and transport can greatly reduce network operating costs, through simplified management and common SDN control.

In UBBF 2021 keynotes, Huawei’s executives provided a comprehensive picture of their target, all-optical network architecture, focused on increasing capacity, widening operator service portfolios, and improving customer experience, while improving deployment flexibility and cost reduction potential.

Operators facing the increasing and changing customer needs can utilize these evolving architectures and techniques to expand their service portfolios, address the needs of diversifying their customer base, and improve QoS across the board. Additionally, the implementation of all-optical, multi-service network architecture and modern deployment techniques can decrease network TCO and improve operator profitability and competitiveness.

Finally, all-optical network featuring technologies and techniques Huawei presented at UBBF 2021 can support operators’ current and future connectivity requirements and allow them to evolve their service portfolios in the direction of higher flexibility, lower time-to-market, and faster return-of-investment.

Finally, all-optical network featuring technologies and techniques Huawei presented at UBBF 2021 can support operators’ current and future connectivity requirements and allow them to evolve their service portfolios in the direction of higher flexibility, lower time-to-market, and faster return-of-investment.

Register with us and watch the recording of UBBF 2021.

About the Author

Emir Halilovic

Emir Halilovic is a Principal Analyst of GlobalData. His focus is on optical transport layer products and technology including WDM, OTN switching, OADMs, packet optical networking, and converged IP/optical platforms. He has a particular interest in how deep changes in networks, like 5G, NFV, and SDN, affect the evolution of transport products and technologies.

Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.

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