This paper details the evolution of access network sharing models from legacy DSL to the most recent fibre-based technology and the main challenges faced from technical and business perspectives. We first give an overview of existing access sharing models, that span physical local loop unbundling and virtual unbundled local access. We then describe different types of optical access technologies and highlight how they support network sharing. Next, we examine how the concept of SDN and network virtualization has been pivotal in enabling the idea of “true multi-tenancy”, through the use of programmability, flexible architecture and resource isolation. We give examples of recent developments of cloud central office and OLT virtualization. Finally, we provide an insight into the role that novel business models, such as blockchain and smart contract technology, could play in 5G networks. We discuss how these might evolve, to provide flexibility and dynamic operations that are needed in the data and control planes.
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