Alternative access options: in-building coax networks vs VDSL for FTTH

This post is by Helge Tiainen, Senior Product Manager at InCoax Networks

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Is in-building coax networks a better alternative than VDSL over twisted pair for FTTH Fibre Extension?

Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) has been viewed as the solution in order to deliver ultra-high speed services to individual homes. However, deployment to apartment buildings is challenging due to costs and acceptance of new wiring within the building. For a fast deployment it is also important to minimise the effect of potential barriers among the different interest holders.

In the case of FTTH in an apartment building, approvals for new wiring are usually needed from the building and/or apartment owner(s) and to keep new wiring costs as low as possible it requires that all apartment owners agrees. This can delay the deployment with months, and in many cases more than a year. The alternative with individual in-building fibre connections, for those who want fibre connectivity, tends to be too expensive.

Cost and approvals are thus major obstacles to new wiring. The alternative to utilise existing infrastructure remains. Such exists in all buildings, in the form of coax networks and telephone wiring.

The latest access solution for in-building high-speed Internet service is based on MoCA technology, widely used by operators in USA. MoCA utilises unused capacity in the in-building coax network. It extends the reach of the fibre to all in-building antenna outlets and combines access and home networking. The coax network has also been upgraded during the past years due to the switchover from analogue to digital TV.

The technology provides capacity up to 175Mbps today, to each apartment antenna outlet. With channel bonding it is possible to provide up to 350 Mbps. With recently released MoCA 2.0 technology it can provide up to 1Gbps with channel bonding.

VDSL is an alternative for telecom operators competing with cable-TV operators’ DOCSIS 3.0. But VDSL vectoring will have difficulties in the competition, since cable operators already today offers down-stream speeds up to 200 Mbps.  VDSL vectoring cannot provide these speeds in practice, due to its vulnerability to interference.

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So, is Fibre Extension over Coax an approach for FTTH? Will MoCA technology increase the adoption of FTTH? Is Fibre Extension over Coax an alternative to VDSL vectoring?

Well, I believe Fibre Extension over Coax is a more attractive alternative than Fibre-To-The-Node (FTTN) / VDSL. Here are some facts:

Fact: At some point in time the apartment building will have Fibre-To-The-Building and MoCA technology as Fibre Extension has proven to be a success story in USA

Fact: MoCA1.1 technology already today provides a higher capacity than FTTN/VDSL vectoring and with MoCA 2.0 much more

Fact: The in-building coaxial network reaches all antenna outlets, where IPTV or Smart-TV is located and do not require any additional home wiring

Fact: There is unused capacity, above the TV spectrum, in the coax cable network

Fact: The building owner normally owns the coax network, in the same way as electrical network, and it is up to owner to select operator for IPTV and Internet

Fact: A MoCA-based solution can act as an access and home network when apartments have more than one antenna outlet, which reduces costs

My opinion is that Fibre Extension over in-building coaxial network is a better migration path to FTTH and the most cost-effective approach. VDSL vectoring cannot compete with cable operators DOCSIS 3.0 high-speed Internet services. With MoCA 2.0 copper wires will only be competitive for single-family homes and rural areas where there are no other alternatives. A MoCA-based access solution will also be more cost-effective than a VDSL vectoring solution.

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One thought on “Alternative access options: in-building coax networks vs VDSL for FTTH

  1. Hi Benny, this is an interesting proposal. Is it written viewing the US as a target, or a more global audience? Do you know if coax is as ubiquitous in apartments outside of the US, as it is in the US?
    Also, you write that “MoCA technology as Fibre Extension has proven to be a success story in USA”; I heard about MoCA extended FTTH in single homes, or apartments, but not in whole buildings; can you clarify?

    Thanks, Shimon

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