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Fiber-Wireless (FiWi) Broadband Access Networks in an Age of Convergence: Past, Present, and Future
After describing the beginnings and state of the art of integrated fiber-wireless (FiWi) broadband access networks in great detail, we briefly review recent progress and point to various ongoing research activities, including the design of energy-efficient "green" FiWi access networks, advanced survivability techniques, and integration of wireless and fiber optic sensors, towards realizing adaptable, dependable, and ecoconscious future-proof broadband access networks based on both wireless and shared passive fiber media. Furthermore, we discuss service, application, business, and operation related aspects, which motivate access technology to move into a substantially different direction in the long run than continued capacity provisioning. Given that most 4G cellular mobile network researches so far have been focusing on the achievable performance gains in the wireless front-end only without looking into the details of backhaul implementations and possible backhaul bottlenecks, we identify open key research challenges for FiWi broadband access networks. We explore ways of how they can be deployed across relevant economic sectors other than telecommunications per se, taking major paradigm shifts such as the Third Industrial Revolution, Energy Internet, smart grid, and explosion of mobile data traffic in today's cellular networks into account.
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