ARCEP recommends a standardised line identification solution for FTTH networks 

Paris, 26 April 2013

A number of building operators are working across the country to deploy their fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks, which has included the launch of a series of public-initiative networks. To achieve a degree of standardisation that will ensure that their networks are technically interoperable, the companies involved in deploying these new generation systems have created several working groups - including Interop' Fibre and Objectif Fibre. The ultra-fast broadband task force, run by the Ministry responsible for digital affairs, has also called for greater consistency in the way these networks are engineered and operated.

For FTTH network rollouts to become increasingly industrialised, one key stage will involve assigning each line an identifier that can be used whenever work is performed on the line, and especially when service orders are placed, to facilitate communications between consumers and their service provider, but also between service providers and building operators. This identifier, which will be the same nationwide, needs to remain consistent over time and be accessible to both customers and technicians performing service calls.
ARCEP has published a recommendation for such a system to be introduced, in a bid to encourage all operators to adopt this type of practice. From a concrete standpoint, the recommendation is for a unique identifier with a standardised 10-character format to be assigned to each line by a line ID administrator - which in most cases will be the building operator that installed the network. This identifier will be displayed on the optical network unit, which will make it easy for the the customer, and technicians when necessary, to locate. Another point to examine is whether to include this identifier on invoices and on customer account pages on operators' websites.

For new buildings where optical fibre systems are installed directly by the original contractor, the building operator will only be designated once construction is complete. ARCEP continues to work with the Objectif Fibre group - which published a handbook on FTTH installations on greenfield sites - on adapting the management and assignment of unique identifiers under those circumstances.

This recommendation marks a major step forward in the standardisation of FTTH networks, but could also be part of an even more useful system thanks to additional measures - including the creation of a centralised database that contains all of the available information on lines, which will smooth the way for network-sharing schemes (cross-referencing line identifiers with postal addresses, building operators, associated concentration points, etc.).