Nokia pitches open access fiber as a boon for MDU deployments

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on sweetheart deals made between building owners and broadband providers, but that could leave some tenants out in the cold when it comes to reliable internet access. Analysts have warned that without extra financial incentives, some fiber providers may be unwilling to invest enough to deliver a quality network.

Cutting the cost of infrastructure is one way to address this problem, and Nokia wants to do this for fiber providers by importing solutions that are working in Europe. The vendor is positioning its software-defined access network (SDAN) and Gigabit Connect as technologies that can make multiple dwelling unit (MDU) deployments more efficient.

SDAN is enabled through cloud-native access control software called Altiplano, which Nokia describes as a tool to combine the management of software-defined networks, legacy hardware and third-party equipment.

Since SDAN facilitates integration of equipment from different vendors, it can enable an open access network in which the primary infrastructure provider can lease access to multiple service providers.

Filip de Greve, head of portfolio marketing for Nokia’s fixed networks division, said implementing such solutions for MDUs will require legal as well as technical work: agreements on right-of-entry, wholesale rates and demarcation points. But he thinks this approach has the potential to “protect both the operator’s initial investment as infrastructure provider and the flexibility of tenants to select services in a competitive market of internet service providers.”

AT&T’s recent wholesale deal with Frontier is an example of an open access network, de Greve said. And SiFi Networks has raised more than a billion dollars to deploy open access networks in cities across North America and is actively hiring account executives to negotiate rights-of-entry with MDU owners.

RELATED: SiFi Networks eyes rollout in 30 cities as open access fiber gains traction

Nokia’s SDAN is complemented by, a DSL protocol implemented in hardware that can supercharge data transmission speeds over short hops using cable. can be deployed in MDUs to keep fiber speeds consistent all the way to the user, even if the fiber itself doesn’t go that far. Nokia’s recently launched Gigabit Connect solution is meant to simplify deployments.

German proof points

In Eastern Bavaria, Germany, Pan Dacom Networking AG is deploying Nokia’s distribution point units along with its SDAN system on behalf of R-KOM, a fiber and telecom services provider. Nokia said the technology is connecting 4,000 buildings.  

“Thousands of Bavarians living in previous fiber no-go homes can now look forward to gigabit broadband,” said R-KOM managing director Alfred Rauscher.

Also in Germany, telecom provider NetCologne is using SDAN, and gigabit passive optical networks (GPON) to deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps to its subscribers, Nokia said. The vendor said NetCologne plans to upgrade the “last drop” from VDSL2 to at 30,000 fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) installations.