Linear upgrade strategies in a single technology domain are no longer sufficient to keep up with growing service demand and complexity. Building a comprehensive transformation strategy requires deep understanding of the impact of both linear and non-linear upgrade paths. The current tools to build transformation plans are not capable of handling the increased level of complexity.
Access network architectures, designed to funnel data from very many end points to a convergence point, are fundamentally different from any other network architecture. Moreover, while demand growth is the key transformation driver for most of the network it is only one of the factors triggering change in the access network.
The service that can be offered to a subscriber is directly related to the capabilities of the access link connecting the subscriber (e.g. if you want to increase the maximum bandwidth tier from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, the access link needs to be able to peak up to 1 Gbps even though the change may only have a minor impact on the average bandwidth consumption and thus not impact the rest of the network). Hence any corporate decision to change service offerings or customer connectivity options (e.g. corporate decision to connect all Multi-Dwelling-Units with fiber for competitive reasons) directly impacts the access network and drives frequent sometimes non-linear1 upgrades. Add-in the continuous need for new access links to serve greenfield areas, new subscribers or new service end-points and you understand why the access network needs constant attention.
Clearly access transformation planning is much more than a simple growth-based upgrade optimization exercise. Given the number of triggers for change and the uncertainty of all inputs , tackling the access network transformation challenge can only be successful by evaluating and comparing a significant number of transformation alternative. For this to be feasible in a short amount of time, an access domain specific methodology is needed to automate the heavy lifting of creating an access network transformation plan. This article lays out the high-level steps in an access domain network planning methodology.