Telecoms industry executives have rated interoperability as the key challenge they face in deploying superfast broadband networks, according to a recent survey conducted by Informa Telecoms & Media.
The market-research company surveyed a total of 237 so-called “broadband stakeholders” and said that 54% of respondents cited interoperability as one of the top three challenges they face, with 25% of operators viewing it as the main challenge.
“The industry should innovate in order to capitalize on, rather than resist, the transition to multivendor networks,” said Rob Gallagher, the head of broadband and television research for Informa. “Operators need to collaborate more to create scale for their requirements, while vendors should restructure their offerings to offset potential lost sales with revenues from new opportunities related to interoperability.”
According to Informa, the interoperability of gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technologies will be especially important, with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) overtaking xDSL as the fastest-growing segment of the fixed broadband market last year.
The company’s forecasts indicate there will be some 328 million FTTP subscriptions by the end of 2018, when the technology will account for 34% of all fixed broadband connections.
Nevertheless, the lack of interoperability threatens to hold back adoption, with most operators currently forced to use the same vendor for network equipment and customer premises equipment.
Informa also says that China Telecom’s (Beijing, China) plans will have a huge bearing on how the situation plays out.
The Chinese fixed-line incumbent is working on a multi-vendor GPON deployment and is expected to serve more than half of the 131 million GPON subscriptions that China will have by the end of 2018.
Informa has urged operators and vendors to collaborate on certification schemes aimed at reducing equipment selection and testing processes.
“Skeptics may say they’ve heard it all before, but more pieces seem to be in place to make multi-vendor GPON deployments happen this time round,” said Gallagher. “A number of major service providers are moving towards multi-vendor networks, while challenger vendors see interoperability as a way to get a foot in the door.”