1Introduction to Broadband Access Networks and Technologies

1.1 Introduction

In the mid-1990s, there were many doubts about the future of broadband access. No one was sure if the mass market needed or wanted more than 100 kbit/s; what applications would drive that need; what broadband access would cost to deploy and operate; what customers were willing to pay; whether the technology could provide reliable service in the real world; or which access technology would “win.” Government regulation in many countries made it unclear if investment in broadband would yield profits. It seemed that broadband access would be available only to wealthy businesses. Fortunately, there were some people who had a vision of a broadband world and who also had the faith to carry on despite the doubts.

We now live in a world where broadband access is the norm and households without it are the exception. No one asks today why the average household would need broadband access. The answer is obvious: we need internet access, with its ever-growing number of applications, and VOD (video on demand). With more than 600 million customers connected to broadband networks, no one asks if the technology works or whether it can meet the customer's willingness to pay.

Furthermore, a growing application of broadband access is the support of femtocells, and small cells in general. Resorting to small cells has today become the most promising trend pursued for increasing wireless spectral efficiency, and the key ...

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