The inside scoop on fiber ISPs
We get questions from people asking what is required for an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to deliver Internet to the home over fiber. We prepared a diagram to illustrate the fiber to the home (FTTH) network.
The customer has a wireless router with WiFi and Ethernet connections for the customer’s devices. The wireless router connects to the optical network terminal (ONT), which is powered from the home and converts the fiber connection from the street to an Ethernet connection. The ONT connects to the fiber distribution hub, which is an optical splitter. The fiber hub is an enclosure that might be installed at the side of the road. The hub splits one fiber cable from the ISP central office into a number of drop cables to each house on the street. The optical splitter is passive, meaning that it does not need power. The fiber distribution hub connects to the optical line terminal (OLT) at the central office through a fiber cable. The OLT may connect a number of hubs to the central office. The OLT to ONT network is called a passive optical network (PON) because there is no powered equipment between the central office and the home.
The OLT connects to a broadband network gateway (BNG), which in turn connects to the backbone Internet from a wholesale provider. The BNG is controlled by the ISP management software and has several tasks:
- Authenticate the customer onto the network
- Activate or deactivate the customer according to the billing payment status
- Impose the rate plan, this is the data speed chosen by each customer
- Provide network information for the management software
- Test the circuit through to the customer when requested by support
Fiber to the home (FTTH) infrastructure
The Internet Service Provider (ISP) business requires software to automate the business functions and also to control the broadband network gateway (BNG) that was described previously. The software is partitioned into six modules to fit the business operations:
- Management; staff, rate plans, reports
- Billing; invoicing, receipts, late payments
- Sales; add customers, initiate installation provisioning
- Technical; equipment installation and repairs, performance monitoring
- Support; helpdesk, customer relationship management (CRM)
- BNG; control of the broadband network gateway
FTTH ISP Management Software Features
The software may be one product from a single supplier, or else may be several different software packages. ISP staff with programming experience can adapt open-source software to use without charge. If there is any problem with the software the staff have to deal with it. Commercial software will have a purchase or lease fee and on-going charges that may be monthly or annual. The software company will provide support and solve any problem that occurs. An ISP will usually choose commercial software as the reliability of service delivery takes priority over operating costs.