Operators must take a holistic approach to the network and use all available technologies to meet customers' needs, Federico Guillén, president of Fixed Networks at Nokia told a packed keynote session at Broadband World Forum on Wednesday.
"It's not just about copper or fiber; it is about all of them," he said in his presentation, titled "The Power of 'And'."
No single technology or access mode will deliver ubiquitous ultra-fast connectivity; instead, networks require a combination of technologies, said the Nokia executive.
"The strategy of deploying fiber to the most economical point in the network is still valid, but the combination of fixed fiber, wireless and other access technologies is now even more crucial to the operator's business case," said Guillén. The impending arrival of 5G makes this mixed-technology approach even more compelling, he added.
"Fixed networks are going to be essential for the growth of 5G, for example, as they will complement wireless for mobile transport. We will also see a combination of fiber and fixed wireless access to deliver ultra-broadband to the home using technologies such as Wi-Gig," said Guillén.
Service providers have the opportunity to enhance what often now is the weakest link: Subscribers' home Wi-Fi networks, he noted.
"Delivering a gigabit experience both to and throughout the whole home is crucial, and we need to reach a point where end-users don't have to think about their Wi-Fi -- it's just there," Guillén said.
As networks get more complex, operators can leverage virtualization to reduce costs, said Guillén. Virtualization can simplify networks; moving hardware to the cloud makes networks easier to manage and scale, he said. Just as fiber is not always the answer for broadband delivery, virtualization is not necessarily the answer for operators' network operations, Guillén noted. Service providers should review the business case, identifying those areas that will provide the most value, he said.
"By taking a holistic approach, operators can enhance their network, deliver a gigabit experience to the end-user and make their operations faster, better and smarter," Guillén concluded.
— Niall Hunt, Digital Lead, Content & Communities, KNect365. Follow him on Twitter @Niall_Hunt.