Network convergence might sound like an enigmatic concept when, in fact, it’s simply the aggregation of all electronic mediums of communication onto one ubiquitous 5G network. In essence, it merges mobile, video transmission, data communication services into a coexisting network. The need for increased bandwidth in an always-online society is the motivation that has given rise to the need for convergence. 


The merging of wireless with wired connectivity has already materialised with 5G utilising fiber optic cabling. In fact, wireless networks are experiencing so much growth that the APAC region is expected to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025. Spearheaded by markets such as Australia, Japan, Singapore & South Korea, the 5G industry will contribute almost US$900 billion to the region’s economy across the next 15 years as MNOs (mobile network operators) are expected to invest almost US$200bn into upgrading 4G networks to 5G.


The impressive launch of 5G across the region will require an extensive network of fiber cables to meet high bandwidth and low latency demands. As such, a converged model will allow a service provider to deliver a plethora of services, adopt new business frameworks, launch new innovative services and products, and reduce barriers to entry in technologically driven markets. 


First point of convergence: Fiber to the home (FTTH) and 5G Technology


FTTH is abundant in APAC and Singapore is currently winning the race. As ranked by the FTTH council, the island has been titled as the region’s top fiber city with 93% FTTH coverage, 100% 4G coverage and over 10,00 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. Tokyo and Seoul have come in right after with 90% coverage followed closely by Hong Kong, Busan and Melbourne.


Why does network convergence matter for 5G and FTTH endeavours? Utilising a FTTH network is a cost-effective answer to support a variety of 5G-backed capabilities. Merging the 5G wireless needs with a fiber-rich network cabling offers companies to use just one single network to maximise the use rate of all assets on the system and thus, grow their ROI. 


Additionally, to match the expected speed performance for 5G, the network requires more small cells (also known as nodes) to eliminate any bottlenecks. These nodes often rely on fiber connections for the backhaul part of the network. Therefore, to handle the data-heavy transfers of 5G, higher frequencies than what is already available must be reached. Unfortunately, the higher the frequency, the shorter the range of the network. As such, many more nodes need to be added to the 5G architecture, making it even more vital to create a fiber-backed cabling system to allow for it. 



Second point of convergence: IoT & 5G


According to Statista, the Internet of Things (IoT) will connect over 75 billion devices by 2025 and as such, it becomes 5G’s partner in making the world more connected. To sum it up, IoT is the connection of billions of physical devices on to a network that collects, shares and pushes data. The idea of IoT is somewhat confusing but we’re all using it. IoT includes devices such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Ok Google, FitBit and the Apple Watch. IoT enables for a more connected world through data sharing across all these devices, thereby making our environment smarter, quantifiable and even chattier. 


Enabling IoT through 5G means the data across the network will be collected, shared and analysed faster and more efficiently. Additionally, 5G opens up the possibility of realizing new business models that utilise IoT. For instance, Nokia has stated that 5G will bring opportunities that weren’t previously available on a 4G/LTE network. As such, MNOs (mobile network operators) can use network slicing to offer individual QoS (quality of service) to each user whilst still using the same network infrastructure. Additionally, the merging of 5G with IoT will pave the way for smart cities. The amassing of data across the fastest network (yet) will allow sensors and big data to create smart city designs, civic infrastructure, and expand the ways in which businesses and people receive and distribute goods and services from place to place. 


Another sector that would immensely aid from the convergence is the health and wellness industry. With medical wearables opportunities opening up through IoT, these devices can help service rural populations with measured and specialised medical attention. Therefore, it provides more effective communication between doctors and patients with the application of telemedicine. 


The convergence of IoT, 5G and FTTH is beginning to power the future and offers a solution for a future-proof, digitally-driven capacity for all types of functions. If you’re looking to benefit from the scalable opportunities of 5G, VIAVI offers solutions that help you command the network. Powerful, sustainable and proven, see how you can leverage the power of 5G. 



About The Author

Fiber Pro at VIAVI Solutions, the world leading provider of Network and Service Enablement.

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