Network operators everywhere are either in the process of or preparing to capitalize on the government incentives (grants, subsidies, loans, etc.) to push high-speed broadband into unserved and underserved populations. In the U.S., for example, initiatives like the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and Connect America Fund (CAF) promise billions of dollars to support deployment of new communications services to remote areas across the country.
But complying with the specifics of these programs can prove challenging. Not only are there specific performance and reporting requirements and deadlines for deployment progress, but there are often requirements related to where the equipment was manufactured, if it is able to support “open network” initiatives and standards, and how readily it can be upgraded to meet the challenges of the future.
At DZS, our approach has been to provide a comprehensive range of open, standards-based compatible solutions that enable operators to cost-effectively deploy, provision and evolve their networks to not only meet the wide variety of performance requirements of governments across the globe, but also the service requirements of operators, regardless of where they are located. These service scenarios can range from basic fiber termination to full-featured triple-play services to fully managed WiFi optimization with analytics and various over-the-top services. Even in scenarios where countries are establishing minimum bandwidth targets of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and often even slower upstream, we are consistently seeing agencies favor solutions that can support symmetrical 1 gigabit per second services or better and stand ready to help.
As a global equipment supplier with multiple contract manufacturing relationships, DZS is well-positioned to meet the “in-country” or global security and manufacturing requirements of individual country broadband incentive programs. In the U.S. for example, “Build America, Buy America” (BABA) is a provision that establishes the domestic content procurement requirements for all U.S. government financial subsidies allocated to infrastructure projects started after May of 2022.
These requirements include BEAD among other federally funded broadband access programs. DZS, which is the only global vendor whose Optical Line Terminals (OLTs) and line cards are currently compliant with the proposed BABA rules, has a multi-decade commitment to U.S. manufacturing for its North America-based customers. DZS is also committed to ensuring that a wide variety of its Optical Network Terminals (ONTs) and pluggable optics are compliant as well. With agile manufacturing partners that have facilities around the world, DZS has the flexibility to support most unique country broadband manufacturing requirements.
The DZS Helix edge access portfolio offers cutting-edge Consumer Premises Equipment (CPE) and ONTs that can deliver 1-gig or 2.5-gig or 10-gig broadband service. DZS can also address the full spectrum of operator requirements for deploying BEAD, RDOF and CAF-ready solutions in the U.S., as well as similar requirements in other countries. For example, we offer basic ONTs that can be installed in the utility area of the home and easily swapped out for higher-bandwidth equipment (e.g., from 1-gig to 10-gig) using the same fiber and connectors for simple future upgrades.
At the other end of the spectrum, service providers often need to offer carrier-grade, full-home WiFi management or even service experience management to customers. DZS supports these options as well. We offer full-service gateways and specialized ONTs that can meet the most stringent business and/or work-from-home requirements.
Our DZS Xperience cloud-native broadband experience and network performance management solution, enables service providers to offer more features, like security, parental controls and time-of-day usage. This gives an overbuilder targeting a new community all the tools they need, from a simple ONT to a full-featured gateway running a DZS Xperience agent to support intelligent service delivery excellence. Furthermore, our TruSpeed module supports the reporting requirements of most global subsidy programs, including CAF and BEAD in the U.S., OFCOM in the United Kingdom (U.K.), as well as many others.
Of course, with flexible DZS Passive Optical Networking (PON) (point-to-multipoint) and Active Ethernet (point-to-point) technologies and solutions, operators have an inherently future-proof way to incrementally add new customers to the network over time. Fiber is a virtually unlimited waveguide, enabling fiber-based networks to expand their bandwidth with little incremental investment as new applications and demands emerge and to scale as take rates and markets grow.
Fiber also makes for a very efficient operational environment not prone to electromagnetic interference or deterioration. This makes fiber, especially PON technologies, very operationally efficient, enabling service providers to deploy the basic service quickly and cost effectively to meet subsidy specifications, and then make it easy to add higher-touch services like whole home WiFi management at the subscriber’s request.
Part and parcel with subsidized networks are the performance and testing requirements that demonstrate to funding program overseers that the services being delivered are in accordance with applicable regulations. This often involves sampling real customers and providing speed test results (e.g., the TR-143 speed test for RDOF) in a form that both properly measures performance and meets reporting requirements. This can be no small task and must be considered from the beginning of network design and buildout. Vendor “real-world” experience is always helpful in ensuring these reports meet specific market requirements, and DZS’ global footprint has given it deep experience with requirements from the FCC, NTIA (U.S.), OFCOM (U.K.), and many other agencies.
We stand ready not only to support these key testing efforts for our customers, but DZS has designed our industry-leading platforms and systems to provide the additional bandwidth that administrative or testing services require without negatively impacting subscriber experience.
At DZS, we are committed to being a trusted leader that delivers best-in-class communications technology that is purpose-built to help bridge the digital divide. We have proudly delivered market-tested, standards-based solutions to service providers across the globe for decades, and have proven our flexibility in meeting in-country manufacturing requirements for specific programs. If your organization is looking to maximize its use of government funded broadband initiatives, contact DZS to discuss how our solutions can support your individual deployment scenario.