Total Telecom spoke to Sebastian Richter, Director of Product Management at devolo, about fibre-to-the-x (FTTx) innovation and making the most of existing wires within the home

As the demand for quality connectivity increases around the world, fibre rollouts are accelerating rapidly. But despite the operators’ major investments in infrastructure, many customers are still left unsatisfied by the quality of service they receive.
“Internet service providers (ISPs) are investing heavily in their rollout, but still the customers are complaining about poor WiFi, even with gigabit-capable broadband,” explained devolo’s Director of Product Management, Sebastian Richter.
He notes that the problem often derives from the fibre’s suboptimal terminus within the building. If the fibre terminates in the basement or a utility room, far from the devices that actually want to make use of the connectivity, then the customer faces a dilemma with two main solutions. On the one hand, they can shift the router from its preferred position, such as the living room, to be closer to the optical network terminal (ONT), which will result in poorer Wi-Fi coverage within the home. Alternatively, they can leave the router where it is, but run cables through the house to the ONT, a process that is both expensive, disruptive, and unsightly.  
But for Sebastian and devolo, there is a third option, involving using existing cable infrastructure to the operator’s advantage.
“We want ISPs to consider other cabling alternatives,” explained Sebastian. “We are calling it the ‘Any Wire’ approach, which involves using existing cables.”

“Fibre is coming into the house – let’s say it’s in the basement, where there is the ONT. But its position in the basement is usually the shortest one to the distribution point, such as out on the street. That’s also true of the old telephone lines or maybe coaxial cables for old television services. Usually all of these services are in the same room – the basement – so when we talk about the ‘Any Wire’ approach, we are really talking about using these lines that are not used any more as a result of the switch to fibre. This unused infrastructure can easily be used for gigabit services.”
Sebastian here emphasised what he called the ‘Three Ps’: Positioning, Performance and Pricing. Issues of router positioning can be overcome using devolo’s WiFi Bridge, which will carry the routers signal over a 2 Gbps connection to wherever it is desired. Meanwhile, the performance of the connection will not suffer as a result of being carried on the existing cable infrastructure – whereas the quality would be degraded if many alternative solutions, such as repeaters, were being used instead.
Finally, this method is simply cheaper, both in terms of the hardware required as well as the man-hours required. Installation can be completed in just 5–10 minutes, compared to the laborious process of laying cable through the customers home.
Of course, when it comes to fibre, each market is different, each conveying their own unique challenges. In some markets, such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Poland, fibre-to-the-home regulations means that the fibre service can terminate behind the first wall in the building, meaning they are great markets for the ‘Any Wire’ approach. But even in other markets where the fibre must legally terminate deeper inside the building, using the existing wire infrastructure can still lead to major cost savings.. 
“ISPs are looking for solutions that are cheaper and faster to rollout, but still comply to all the legal requirements,” explained Sebastian. “With our Any Wire approach we think that we can address different use cases in various countries, and we’re also preparing solutions for apartment buildings.”
The full interview with Sebastian can be viewed above. If you want to hear more about devolo’s any-wire approach, you can hear Sebastian himself in discussion with fellow fibre experts on a panel on FTTx innovation at this year’s Gigabit Access event. Register here now.
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