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In this article we discuss the challenges faced when building a national optical access network that is ubiquitous (i.e., reaches all households nationwide) and open access (i.e., allows any provider to offer their services over it). Our work is inspired by a public fiber access network being built in Australia called the National Broadband Network (NBN) that will deploy fiber to 93 percent of premises, providing broadband access at potential data rates of 100 Mb/s and above. We highlight how the nationwide open access nature of the network creates new architectural challenges, in terms of both fiber layout as well as interconnection with private providers competing to offer retail services. We identify some of the technical choices related to the support of advanced features such as quality of service, multicast, and reliability, and discuss potential challenges providers may face when rolling out their services in such a network.
Date of Publication: July-August 2012