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MWC Shanghai 2019 focused on more bandwidth; more consumer, enterprise, and smart city applications; and increased cooperation between wireless and wireline access networks. Communications service providers (CSPs) participated in GSMA's Future Broadband Forum and the Huawei-sponsored Gigabit Forum. They discussed the key role that fiber access continues to play as 5G networks are deployed.

Collaboration benefits consumers, enterprises, and smart cities

Fiber access is not going away in the 5G world; rather, network upgrades to 10G PON are being undertaken by China's three major CSPs. Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) households exceed 400 million in China today, and CSPs are continuing to increase bandwidth tiers. Ovum forecasts that more than 50 million households will have selected gigabit speeds and higher by 2023. CSPs are expanding services with cloud-based virtual reality applications encompassing gaming and immersive experiences. Cloud-based VR gaming has lower in-home storage and processing requirements, and CSPs can offer a wider variety of games and applications, thereby improving customer loyalty.

Smart city initiatives are well underway throughout China, combining fiber and wireless access to ensure both connectivity and bandwidth as needed. For example, the Shanghai municipal government has adopted a dual-gigabit broadband strategy, with China Telecom supporting 10G PON access along with 5G throughout the city. High-quality video surveillance at large sporting and entertainment events requires tremendous bandwidth, especially on the uplink for cloud-based analytics. In parallel, other smart city applications, such as controlling traffic signals to enable an ambulance to travel quickly through crowded city streets, can rely on fast 5G networks.

Furthermore, enterprises and campuses need both wireline and wireless connectivity. While 5G networks will support factory-based IoT , optical access networks support cloud-based bandwidth-heavy applications. China's CSPs are supporting the adoption of PON for campus-wide optical LANs in universities, hotel resorts, hospitals, and office buildings.

The discussion has moved from wireless versus wireline to collaboration, focusing on fulfilling subscriber expectations and experiences with the power of collaboration.


Further reading

Consumer Broadband Subscriptions Forecast Report: 2018–23, CES005-000033 (April 2019)

"Shanghai Telecom leads the world with its citywide 10G FTTH," SPT002-000139 (October 2018)


Julie Kunstler, Principal Analyst, Service Provider Technology

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