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Jan 30, 2024
4 min

7 Trends That Matter in 2024 for Broadband Access Networks

What does 2024 hold for broadband service providers (BSPs)? We sought insights from industry, BSP, and Calix experts to understand what drivers will impact subscriber and service experiences and how networks are built and operated. Here are seven trends to keep an eye on.


1. Service Bundling and Personalization

According to Ray Mota, Ph.D., with ACG Research, 2024 will see growing demands for hyper-personalization of consumer services to monetize the investment in broadband connectivity. Providers must shift their focus beyond offering gigabit speeds to personalized packages tailored to individual and business needs. Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will further personalize offerings, predict customer behavior, and proactively troubleshoot issues, enhancing user experience and satisfaction. Mota also noted that bundling with value-added services—like integrated network security solutions, smart home automation, and cloud gaming services—can differentiate BSPs and create sticky customer relationships.


2. AR/VR Will Drive Capacity

Per Mota, XGS-PON will continue to dominate due to its flexibility in offering symmetrical gigabit speeds and catering to capacity demand from new services, including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). AR/VR also garnered considerable attention at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show, indicating these services are bigger than ever—so is supporting technology like haptic wearables, allowing users to see and feel their AR experience. Continued attention to these technologies will impact the need for capacity and further growing demand for fiber and new PON technologies, like 50G PON, that will push the limits of existing technologies.


3. Automating To Scale

Calix expects more BSPs to adopt a framework for automation across all broadband operations, including service provisioning. Tools that enable automated network service provisioning will play an increasingly important role in speeding up new subscriber onboarding while reducing costs and truck rolls. BSPs will adopt more automated systems to quickly identify, mitigate, and resolve network problems. This includes workflow automation, machine learning-based insights, and customizable and configurable network health thresholds across the subscriber-facing network.

One BSP, Centranet, a subsidiary of Central Rural Electric Cooperative, echoes these trends. According to Sachin Gupta, Director of Business Development, Centranet is seeing extensive growth, pushing the envelope on what its technical teams can keep up with. Centranet’s goal for 2024 is to reduce provisioning and maintenance time and repetitive, error-prone tasks—shaving seconds off operational workflows and automation that will significantly help Centranet scale.


4. Consolidation and Simplification Will Fuel Network Modernization

BSPs will continue to make incremental investments in their networks—in part to help improve operational efficiencies. However, according to a study by Bain and Company, inflation is impacting personnel costs, energy, external spending on services, leases, and capital expenditures. These effects incentivize BSPs to drive down the cost of building and maintaining networks through consolidation and simplification.

A simplified network architecture consolidates and moves service-enabling network functions closer to the subscriber. With network functions closer to the edge, BSPs can provision, operate, and maintain all subscriber services in one place via a “single pane of glass.” This eliminates multiple devices and management systems from the network—reducing costs and operational complexity. It also allows BSPs to manage service policies closer to the subscriber—providing flexibility to support the delivery of managed services, optimize performance, and enhance service quality.


5. Multi-Gig Connectivity Within the Premises

The need to support multi-gigabit connectivity within the premises for a better subscriber experience will take higher priority in 2024. The number of connected devices will continue to grow. Many households must support multiple simultaneous video streams, often in UHD (4K). Additionally, consumers and businesses have become social content creators, uploading multiple HD videos daily and requiring a robust upstream broadband connection. This means the growing adoption of faster Wi-Fi technologies such as 6E or 7 and support for multiple multi-gigabit LAN ports (2.5Gb/5Gb/10Gb) on-premises equipment.


6. Wi-Fi Technology Advances

Wi-Fi will continue to be the technology of choice in residential, municipal, and commercial environments as new access points and devices emerge with support for Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7. The primary benefit is an exponential speed increase with the addition of the 6GHz spectrum and channel widths up to 320MHz. Wi-Fi will also be one of the first technologies to benefit from machine learning-based AI with features such as automated frequency coordination and multi-link, which will direct traffic to under-utilized spectrum or break up traffic streams across the available spectrum.


7. Beyond 10G Network Evolution

Calix expects 2024 will be used to define how operators leverage higher-speed PON technologies in their network evolution. While XGS-PON will sufficiently support most subscriber services for the remainder of the decade, 50G PON will set the foundation for converging all residential, mobile, and business services onto a single network—providing ease of management, increased automation, and reduced network operating costs. Additionally, network infrastructure costs can be spread across all customers and service segments (residential, SMB, enterprise, and mobile x-haul).

As broadband technologies evolve, BSPs will look for solutions that seamlessly transition whenever a technology update or evolution occurs—no forklift upgrades needed! Learn how Calix’s broadband platform is poised to serve your network in 2024 and well into the future. Download our Intelligent Access EDGE solution brief to get started.

Area Vice President, Broadband Platform Marketing, Calix

Tom Schroer is the area vice president, access systems, network engineer, and services marketing at Calix. Tom leads a team evangelizing a wide array of professional, managed, network, and access systems. Prior to Calix, Tom gained extensive experience in service provider planning, engineering, operations, and marketing for network and service assurance and core and access solutions.