29 March. 2023

4 FTTH trends that internet operators and ISPs should look out for

This spring the FTTH industry gathers to showcase and debate the newest technology innovations and market trends at conferences and summits, where Icotera also will be present. As a warm-up, Erik Søe-Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Icotera, delivers his take on the key trends right now. 

Few industries are moving as fast as the FTTH industry. Increasing customer demand on service levels, shifting Wi-Fi standards, changing regulatory standards, and market consolidations are all driving change. Keeping up with developments and grasping the opportunities they bring for internet operators and internet services providers (ISPs) can be hard. 

In the coming months, Icotera will attend:

Here we will look into amongst others, how to navigate this ever-changing FTTH landscape. In this article, you can get a preview of some of the key trends that we gladly elaborate - please stop by or feel free to reach out in case you are not attending one of the shows.

According to Erik Søe-Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Icotera, there are four key market trends in particular right now, that you should note, depending on whether you are an internet operator or an ISP. 

#1 Internet operators should avoid vendor lock-in      

Across Europe, a wave of mergers and acquisitions is sweeping through the FTTH markets. In a merger between two internet operators, their individual choice of customer premise equipment (CPE) plays a significant role. A merger gets unnecessarily difficult and complex if both operators run a single-vendor solution with ONT and OLT equipment from different vendors.  

– In a market characterized by consolidation, it is appropriate to prepare your business for the likelihood of a merger, and this requires a lot of flexibility from both parties. Being tied to ONT and OLT equipment from the same vendor makes the ISP’s business very inflexible. Therefore, it is more important than ever to avoid vendor lock-in that can make a possible merger unnecessarily complex and costly, says Erik Søe-Pedersen. He continues: 

– Prioritizing ONT equipment that can work with different OLT equipment across both GPON and XGS-PON, will put you in a better position for a merger or acquisition, due to the high flexibility it provides. With a solution that works across multiple vendors, you avoid a lot of complexity that requires resources and IT effort.

According to Erik Søe-Pedersen, steering clear of vendor lock-in should be a key priority for internet operators in 2023. CPE products which have received the BBF.247 certification are much easier to integrate, as the program specifies exactly how the OMCI communication (ITU-T G.988) should work. 

#2 Understanding local fiber needs is key to success 

While the trend globally might be to replace cable TV with streaming TV there are still European markets where it is paramount to be able to deliver a cable TV signal to end-customers via fiber optics. This requires that the CPE has a CATV port. 

In other markets, cable telephone lines are a must, either due to customer needs or simply because of legal regulations. This requires that the CPE supports VoIP.  

– Products designed for the global market do not necessarily meet local market needs. It is really important that your partner on fiber CPE understands these differences across the European markets – and can adjust and customize in order to deliver fiber CPE equipment that matches the needs in your market, Erik Søe-Pedersen points out and continues: 

– Flexibility in port configuration is an important aspect, so as an internet operator you can offer a telephone or cable TV signal over the fiber signal, even when smaller batches require customization, and the possibility to add-on unique features. While these aspects might seem minor in a global perspective, it is vital for local operators to have a competitive solution that can meet the specific needs in markets, Erik Søe-Pedersen stresses.  

#3 Wi-Fi 6 is a futureproof investment for ISPs

New generations of Wi-Fi standards are coming and leaving ever more rapidly. Barely was the Wi-Fi 6 standard released, before its successor, Wi-Fi 6E, was announced. Thanks to the 6GHz frequency introduced with Wi-Fi 6E, the new standard lured with its potential to offer undisturbed Wi-Fi. 

Yet, when the European Commission released the 6GHz band in Europe, only 50 % of the band was released. 

–The unresolved potential of Wi-Fi 6E across Europe means that the potential of Wi-Fi 6 merely increases even more, as this standard will be relevant for years to come. This makes Wi-Fi 6 a futureproof investment for ISPs who want to invest in a technology that will benefit their business and end-users, Erik Søe-Pedersen says. 

Does this mean Wi-Fi 6 is the best solution for every ISP? No, not according to Erik Søe-Pedersen:  

– In some parts of the FTTH industry, Wi-Fi 6 has become a seal of approval. But this is not always the case. There are Wi-Fi 5 routers on the market that outperform Wi-Fi 6 routers when it comes to delivering powerful in-home experiences capable of meeting the growing need for heavy Wi-Fi activities such as gaming, streaming and video. 

While Wi-Fi standards are shifting and new technologies are replacing earlier ones, the key to a profitable business is choosing the CPE solutions that fit your business and client needs best, according to Erik Søe-Pedersen: 

– If you deliver Wi-Fi services in larger cities with many apartments, one powerful Wi-Fi 5 router can easily do the job and cover all your end-customers’ homes. On the other hand, if you deliver Wi-Fi services in areas with many larger homes, Wi-Fi 6 will be an optimal choice because it allows you to deliver better coverage over larger areas, Erik Søe-Pedersen says and adds: 

– For some ISPs it makes perfect sense to shift to Wi-Fi 6 now and offer it to all end-customers to harvest the benefits of delivering the same high-end solution to all clients, while for other ISPs a differentiated setup is more appropriate, depending on the use cases and the subscription, and this calls for different router options. 

#4 Growing Wi-Fi demands requires first time right

Today, end-users consume more bandwidth than ever before. Meeting the growing Wi-Fi demands is a decisive parameter for running a successful ISP business.

Yet, as simple as it may sound, this keeps challenging ISPs all over the world. In the past, when the speeds into the homes were not so impressive, which router you applied in your set-up meant less. But those days are gone. 

– Today, ISPs promise speeds of 100, 500 or 1000 Mbit, and common for them all is that the end-customer expects that the speed they buy is the speed they get. If they don’t, your customer satisfaction will tumble. And with the increasing competition on the market for Wi-Fi services, the price can be very high in terms of lost customers and high churn, Erik-Søe Pedersen says. 

At Icotera, we truly believe in the concept of first time right as the key to a successful ISP business. Put simply, first time right means your ability to achieve the desired result on the first attempt. In other words, installing a router that is powerful enough to deliver a smooth experience at high speeds. 

It is simpler, better, and more profitable for the ISP to implement a router with the right capacity from the start – securing a premium internet experience for all users from day one.   

We are ready to help you navigate

Want to know more and have a talk about your CPE solution and how best to navigate the ever-changing FTTH landscape? 

This spring you can meet us at: 

If you are not planning to visit any of these events, you are more than welcome to reach out to Erik Søe-Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at +45 22 40 60 62 or at mail: esp@icotera.com