This paper reviews and outlines the key features of the emerging next-generation fixed passive optical network (NG-PON)-based and fourth-generation (4G) mobile broadband access technologies and how to leverage the advantages of both of these access technologies to build a next-generation hybrid fiber-wireless (FiWi) network. Specifically, this paper presents an overview of the most recent research activities on these hybrid FiWi architectures, aiming to clarify the basic differences and distinguish between two FiWi networking architectural models, namely, the overlay or independent model and the truly integrated model. We then explore and present a new direction to the design and implementation of a simple and cost-effective all-packet-based converged fixed-mobile access networking solution that enables the true integration of NG-PON and 4G mobile broadband access technologies into the envisioned fixed-mobile platform. We briefly outline the general and technical requirements to support a unified NG-PON long-term evolution ((LTE) radio access network (RAN) architecture that conforms to both the typically centralized fixed PON and the emerging distributed 4G mobile LTE access standards. The implementation methodology on how to efficiently and cost-effectively integrate these two access technologies along with the main advantages gained from such an integrated architecture are outlined and presented.
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