The installation of optical fiber networks is rapidly increasing around the world. Established Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and WISP’s are installing fiber as fast as their financial ability and staffing permits but they are not meeting the demand. Much of the demand for fiber to the home was created by the pandemic because employees were working from home and needed faster Internet.
As DSL and cable networks were slow many people installed 5G modems to get faster data access using a 5G wireless network. DSL and Cable networks use copper cables that have a high attenuation and so the customer must be close to the ISP’s central office, the maximum distance from the central office to the home is about 3Km for DSL. Cable has similar distances. The data speed reduces as the distance increases. Adding powered repeaters to the networks, which receive and amplify the data can extend communication distances. #Opticalfiber can provide a data connection up to 60Km, and when the #fiber is split into connections for homes the distance is reduced to 20Km.
The demand for fiber connections in the USA has been accelerated the federal government releasing funds to install fiber to each home. Owing to the financial opportunities presented by fiber installations many businesses from other segments like construction have been attracted to install fiber. Construction businesses are very well qualified to install fiber as it requires digging trenches along the side of roads, constructing cabinets for fiber splitters along the side of roads, and installing cables on poles. Construction companies are also familiar with the paperwork that construction requires, which includes pulling construction permits and ensuring that the authorities inspect the installation work.
Construction companies are not familiar with the business of delivering the Internet service to subscribers and so many will sell the dark fiber (unused) to an #ISP business that can deliver the Internet service. The construction company can recover the installation cost plus a profit. The ISP's make much more profit from the #fibercable than the construction companies do because provisioning of the Internet service generates higher profit over a long period of time through recurring revenue.
Businesses that are installing fiber connections to homes should be aware that Internet service provider management solutions are available which require limited technical knowledge to implement and can be learnt quickly. Construction companies that installed fiber cables to homes can realize a much higher profit with recurring revenue from their installation efforts.
One system that was designed for start-up fiber ISP’s can be deployed to build a successful fiber ISP business. The name of the system is #easyFTTH and the explanation of the product operation follows.
EasyFTTH has two components; the first is a broadband network gateway (BNG), which is installed in the fiber network central office, together with the optical line terminal (OLT). The central office has the backhaul fiber connection to the wholesale Internet service provider. In the USA this connection will be a 10Gb/s fiber or possibly faster if the service is available.
A fiber cable connects the OLT to several neighborhood optical splitters, and from each splitter there are 32 or 64 fiber drop cables to homes. Usually the drop cable from the splitter to the home is installed when the homeowner signs up as a subscriber for the Internet service. Each home has an optical network terminal (ONT) installed on a wall outside the home, which converts the fiber data to an Ethernet connection. The ONT connects to a wireless router inside the home using an Ethernet cable and is powered from the home. The broadband network gateway is controlled by cloud software that has all the functions required to manage the business; with order entry, subscriber billing, provisioning, workflow, helpdesk and customer relationship management (CRM). A diagram illustrating the fiber installation is shown in the figure below.
As the ISP expands geographically it will not be possible to continue connecting customers to the central office. The passive optical network limits the radius of operation to 20Km. It is possible to install a fiber of up to 60Km to a second central office that has an OLT installed and has a radius of operation of up to 20Km. Further central offices can be installed, each with a backhaul connection to the broadband wholesale provider and each will require a broadband network gateway.
The ISP cloud business management system has three components:
The cloud server hosted by the vendor, the ISP pays a low monthly subscription to use the cloud service.
The cloud interface to the broadband network gateway, there is no limit to the number of broadband network gateways that can be managed by the cloud account and so the ISP can install many central offices over a large geographic region and all are managed through one cloud interface in a transparent manner.
The administration of the ISP system is done through computer terminals that are logged in to the ISP’s cloud account. There is no limit to the number of terminals that can be logged in to an account. There are five staff login types where each has a different view of the system.
Manager: add and remove staff, set rate plans, produce reports, plan new network infrastructure.
Financial: manage billing, post invoices, monitor receipts, follow-up with late payments.
Sales: add new customers, initiate work orders to provision the customers installations.
Technical: monitor network status and failure alarms, receive work orders for new customer installations and network repairs, install network infrastructure.
Support: responsible for the helpdesk and supervision of the CRM portal.
The next figure illustrates the cloud administration with multiple central offices.
The cloud management system has the functionality required to manage the ISP business. The functionality of the cloud system is divided into the five functional areas of the business. The next figure illustrates the features of the cloud management system.
Many ISP’s have deep technical knowledge of networks and software and are able to configure and script routers, and to adapt open source software for the management of the businesses. However this has a cost in man-hours so even if the software is free the use of the software has a cost with both adaptation and hosting.
A business that does not have staff with deep technical knowledge can provide ISP services using a system similar to the easyFTTH system illustrated. There are other systems with similar features and ease of use. Third party management systems have a cost but it is comparable to the cost of adapting and operating open source products that work with routers.
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