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The broadband access divide still exists after years of broadband development

Restricted by the factors such as policy, cost, geographic environment, and fiber resource, the divide still exists in the home broadband market although broadband access has developed rapidly around the world. Some homes are able to enjoy stable and reliable 100M, multi-100M and even Gigabit broadband services over the fibers connected to their homes, while other homes are not served with broadband due to the lack of infrastructures. It is estimated that approximately one billion homes will be unable to access fixed broadband in the next two to three years.

This paper focuses on two types of users to whom FTTH coverage has always been unavailable: suburban home users, and a large number of multi-story apartment users in cities. Then, what can we do to eliminate the digital divide?

In suburban home user scenarios, buildings are scattered and detached, and the user density per area is low, resulting in expensive costs of fiber laying, yet unsatisfactory RoI. In urban multi-story apartment scenarios, the user density is relatively high, but it is difficult to lay fiber in users’ home in a short term due to the ageing of buildings and the fiber laying policy.

Traditional FWA solution reduces the digital divide, but there are difficulties and challenges in actual deployment

The 5G-based FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) solution provides a good idea for the above markets, and is a beneficial complement to the home broadband market. For suburban home user scenarios, FWA introduces the high-bandwidth 5G air interface signals to the home through the installation of outdoor 5G CPE, which dramatically reduces deployment costs. For urban multi-story apartment scenarios, the FWA solution avoids the difficulty of laying fiber indoors.

The existing FWA solution is a feasible broadband access solution for suburban house users. While, it is difficult for the existing FWA solution to achieve expected results in urban multi-story apartment scenarios due to the factors such as high user density, complex environment, and a large number of obstacles.

At present, the 3.5 GHz frequency are commonly used in most areas, and millimeter wave is selected in North America, which causes weaker penetration of obstacles. Therefore, the 5G CPE often needs to be installed on the exterior wall of the building, and each home needs one outdoor CPE.

The traditional FWA solution faces the following challenges in actual network deployment:

1. High cost. The distributive CPE deployment mode requires the installation of one 5G CPE in each home, resulting in expensive device costs.

2. Heavy workload of on-site installation. The 5G CPE is installed on the exterior wall of each home, and the connection between the outdoor 5G CPE and the indoor home gateway requires drilling holes and running cables through walls, which needs to be done by professional technicians. While, the labor costs in some areas such as European and American are expensive.

3. Unstable and unreliable signals. Line-of-sight link is unavailable to the users at low stories due to the obstruction of trees and other buildings. Penetrating or diffracting these obstacles causes large attenuation of high-frequency signals.

ZTE Copper Enhanced 5G FWA Solution effectively address the challenges of traditional FWA

Based on years of profound understanding, technical know-how and accumulated experience, ZTE proposes the Copper Enhanced 5G FWA Solution which innovatively combines the wireless FWA and the high-speed copper access technology

The following figure shows the ZTE Copper Enhanced 5G FWA Solution:


1. A 5G CPE is installed on the top of the building, and the DPU is installed in the basement of the building, and they are connected via the 10GE/GE CAT-5e cables or CAT-6 cables.

2. The multi-port DPU in the basement or the floor corridor, provides up to 1Giga to multi homes over the existing twist pairs.

3. The 5G air interface can be based on sub 6G or millimeter wave. Sub 6G provides a peak rate of up to 5.36 Giga, while millimeter wave provides a peak rate of up to 7.07 Giga.

Copper Enhanced 5G FWA Solution addresses the challenges of the traditional FWA solution, and is highly suitable for the urban high-density multi-story apartment scenarios.

Copper Enhanced 5G FWA Solution has the following advantages:

1. Greatly reduces deployment costs. The Copper Enhanced FWA solution just needs one outdoor CPE to provide broadband service to multi homes,  reducing the overall equipment expenditure. The technology leverages the existing copper cable resources in the building without additional  wiring and engineering construction, further reducing costs.

2. On-site one-step installation reduces installation complexity. Once 5G CPE and multi-port DPU are installed in place, all users in the building can be provided services on demand, without the need for technicians to install the equipment door to door. The operator only need to mail the CPE to the user, and the user starts the service by him- or herself according to the user manual, which greatly reduces the provisioning costs.

3. Users can enjoy more stable and reliable 5G broadband services. Because the 5G CPE is installed on the top of the building, an unobstructed line-of-sight link is established between the 5G base station and CPE, which greatly reduces the attenuation of 5G signals. At the same time, technology provides high reliable and stable connection to each homes inside the building.

Compared with the traditional FWA solution, the Copper Enhanced FWA Solution needs to address the problem of 5G CPE power supply and user authentication / authorization / accounting, as well as bandwidth and traffic management. So how does ZTE solve these problems?

Firstly, the 5G CPE is installed on the top of the building, where the local power supply is unavailable. Therefore, the Copper Enhanced FWA solution leverages PoE (power over Ethernet) to convert the local AC power in the basement to DC power and to feed the 5G CPE on the top of the building via CAT-5 or CAT-6 cables, which reduces power supply costs without the need of laying power cables.

Secondly, another problem is how to perform user authentication / authorization / accounting as well as bandwidth and traffic management. The traditional wireless network implements user management baded on SIM card, and one SIM card represents a user. However, in Copper Enhanced FWA solution application scenarios, how do we manage the multiple users connected under one SIM card (5G CPE)? ZTE innovatively developed the L2TP tunnel solution to solve this problem.. The DPU acts as the L2TP LAC, and the BRAS acts as the LNS. The entire tunnel penetrates the 5G network. PPP sessions initiated by home gateways are encapsulated in L2TP tunnel from DPU and terminated in BRAS, which are completely transparent to 5G network. BRAS impement user authentication/ authorization/accounting and traffic management.

The following figure shows the Copper Enhanced FWA L2TP solution:

The L2TP tunnel solution allows for the operators to implement 3A management and traffic management of FWA home users by the traditional fixed-line home broadband management model.

Through L2TP tunnel solution, the operators can use the same management mode as that of fixed-line broadband to implement 3A and traffic management of FWA users.

The 5G-based FWA solution fills the digital divide in the home broadband market. ZTE Copper Enhanced FWA Solution provides economical, reliable, and rapid broadband service access to the multi-story apartment users in cities, facilitating the broadband universality with a high cost-performance ratio.

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