Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) brings new challenges

We’re working on an interesting project that brings a traditional B2B service provider together with an operator that provides flexible FWA connectivity – and extending an existing CROSS deployment to provide the single source of truth for the combined organization. And, with an eye on a 5G future.

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) has emerged as a viable means of providing fiber-like connectivity and is surging in popularity. As a key use case for 5G, it’s going to be a critical interface for high-speed service delivery. Of course, just like fiber, activating services for residential and business customers means that deep insight into inventory is required. Most FWA solutions depend on the delivery of terminal modems to premises, so not only is asset tracking essential but in addition, service activation requires a clear correlation of geographic location and customer address with service delivery components.

In this respect, building out FWA presents a similar challenge to fiber deployments – which means network inventory systems must be up-to-date and fully aligned with other operational processes. This is a challenge we’re tackling with a leading central European provider that has pioneered FWA as a high-speed broadband delivery mechanism.

The operator is the result of a merger of two previously independent operators in the same market. Our original customer had largely been focused on B2B customers, while the other had built a strong presence as a radio access operator delivering FWA solutions. CROSS has already been deployed as the network inventory solution in the B2B provider and the newly merged entity decided to standardize on CROSS for its combined operations.

Now, the FWA assets and inventory have been added to the CROSS data model. It has become the single source of truth to enable the operator to bridge the real network with their BSS and, as a result, support key B/OSS processes – such as activating new FWA services for customers. CROSS has become the master source for the entire service and resource inventory.

This required graceful extension of the existing CROSS consolidated inventory solution to encompass the new assets and service delivery required to support a different mode of connectivity. Of course, the issues remain the same as in any network. You have to understand your inventory in order to enable key processes. Fortunately, CROSS has a fully extendable data model, which has allowed the operators to rapidly take advantage of CROSS in the new operations.

CROSS can easily extend to other new use cases too, enabling operators to enhance their service portfolio and embrace new opportunities. So, if you are in a position in which you need to extend or merge your network, CROSS provides the perfect solution for consolidation and extension projects, as it offers unique flexibility to ensure that inventory keeps pace with digital transformation projects.

It allows for service diversity and will also help operators ensure consistency across networks as they deploy common services. Of course, this also means 5G – for which a clear understanding of inventory assets will be even more important, because of the dynamic service orchestration and activation it unlocks.  

That point is emphasised by the fact that the operator is coordinating the rollout of 5G with that of the build-out of its fiber network. Essentially, 5G will go hand-in-hand with FTTH / GPON delivery, because high-speed fiber access is required for each cell site. And, given that business users are already using FWA, the future upgrade to 5G will enhance the connectivity they will obtain in fixed locations.

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