The global fiber to the x (FTTx) market is anticipated to generate US $17.3 billion in revenues by 2033. The constantly increasing demand for capacity and speed, accelerated by ever more data-rich applications, is a key driver for the fiber market.
Fiber should be a great opportunity, but it is also investment heavy. As Analysys Mason points out, “FTTP is, in raw CAPEX terms and when measured against population, the single largest investment in telecoms infrastructure since telephony itself.” So how can operators be sure to make the most of the investment?
IT systems are imperative to monetizing networks, but traditionally have also been a pain point. Integration complexity and friction are familiar headaches for service providers, with ineffective systems even limiting the return they see from their network investment. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
In this blog, Rigas Parathyras, Vice President of Products at ZIRA, addresses how service providers can stop IT systems from becoming a bottleneck, and turn them into an advantage to make the most of wholesale opportunities.
Fiber as an investment opportunity
Before looking at how IT is used to facilitate a wholesale fiber offering, the first question to ask is: ‘Is Fiber a good investment opportunity?’ Let’s look at the landscape.
McKinsey offers an interesting insight into the benefits of owning fiber infrastructure. It states, “fiber technology has proved its worth over the past decade, so these assets have grown to become some of the most popular among private equity and institutional investors seeking the stable, long-term cash flows that infrastructure can offer.” This analysis is a ringing endorsement for owning fiber infrastructure and highlights that fiber investment can increase the strength of the business as a whole.
Additionally, the predicted growth rate of fiber is an exciting prospect for operators. The rate of unique FTTP premises passed was 41% in Europe by the end of 2020. Analysys Mason estimates this will rise to 58% by 2026 to meet the growing demand. The analyst house also predicts strong growth across all regions, particularly the Americas and emerging economies in Asia-Pacific. They are seeing early signals that FTTP is beginning to disrupt cable operators, which is set to further drive the FTTP market.
IT systems for wholesale fiber: headache cause or cure?
The outlook for owning fiber infrastructure is, so far, overwhelmingly positive, so what are the drawbacks? When we look at forecasts for the fiber market, drivers for growth, and the overall direction of the industry, there is obvious potential for operators. However, the challenge of dealing with the complexity of running a wholesale fiber business can be significant.
IT systems work as a catalyst to turn the network infrastructure into revenue. They are crucial from a business perspective but can be difficult to get right, especially when it comes to fiber.
Fiber is somewhat unique within the telecoms ecosystem and requires a specific IT stack to accommodate the different processes, particularly for a wholesale model. Managing this is not necessarily a straightforward task. In addition, for operators introducing or moving over from legacy systems, there is a CAPEX and time investment that needs to happen before the infrastructure can be monetized.
These elements plus the need for a quick time to market can give operators pause when it comes to showing the green light to fiber investment. However, get the IT systems running smoothly and they will be the cure rather than the cause of revenue headaches.
Implementing the four elements of a strong fiber IT strategy
The opportunity is simply too big to allow obstacles to prevent adoption. The rewards of a successful wholesale fiber business far outweigh the risks involved, but a strong and effective IT strategy is needed.
A solid fiber strategy can be broken down into four elements – get each aspect of setup and deployment correct, and operators should expect to reap the rewards of the fiber opportunity. The four pillars, as we will refer to them, are the building blocks of a wholesale fiber business, and each one needs to be implemented well. They are:
- End-to-end support for fiber processes – a BSS system capable of delivering full, fiber-specific end-to-end support is key.
- Capabilities to simplify wholesale fiber complexity – operators need a solution that can easily integrate into their IT landscape in a cost-effective way. However, it must cater specifically to wholesale needs.
- Easy integration and adaptability for existing processes – a BSS that is open to partners and channels, allowing them to utilize its capabilities and easily integrate.
- Scalability for business evolution –the ability to build a solution capable of generating immediate revenue, with the flexibility to expand and scale as required in the future.
Although that may feel like a lot to deliver on top of rolling out the physical infrastructure, overcoming the challenges can be a relatively simple process for operators. Working with an experienced BSS provider who offers a dedicated wholesale solution can allow the four pillars to be implemented very quickly, reducing time to market and driving ROI. With this in place, IT BSS systems can unlock opportunities and become a significant benefit for operators rather than a bottleneck.
Accelerating Wholesale Fiber ROI: A Quickstart Handbook
While the market potential for wholesale fiber presents an enticing opportunity for operators, effectively managing the intricate elements of the wholesale business poses undeniable challenges. Nonetheless, by adopting a suitable approach towards IT and business aspects, the potential for growth is substantial and continuously expanding.
The crucial factor lies in devising a comprehensive strategy. Our guide, “Accelerating Wholesale Fiber ROI: A Quickstart Handbook,” examines the four fundamental pillars of a successful fiber strategy and provides practical insights on their implementation. This straightforward resource offers a practical framework for deploying the necessary Business Support Systems (BSS) solutions to achieve success and generate rapid fiber ROI.