Next-Generation PON: Status & Prospects
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As consumer and business demand for bandwidth continues to grow very fast, and competition in fixed and mobile access remains very strong in most markets around the world, operators are pushing fiber closer to the edges of their networks - both fixed and mobile. While engineering investment for laying fiber is not insignificant even in relatively low-cost economies, operators can, depending on local conditions, minimize capex by deploying passive optical network (PON) equipment. This comes at the cost of some operational and service flexibility compared with the major technology competitor: point-to-point Active Ethernet (AE).
The three most common fiber access technology standards (GPON, EPON and AE) can co-exist on the same optical distribution network (ODN) and use the same wavelength plan. Many vendors have worked hard to provide equipment that is capable of supporting all the technologies on the same platforms, and using the same management software.
In other markets, GPON is not so dominant: EPON is still widely deployed in Asia, for instance. There is also less impetus behind FTTH in Europe because of regulatory restrictions on exclusive use of access infrastructure in some markets and also because of generally higher densities of homes and shorter average loop lengths - and, hence, more interest in fast copper technologies. There is a lot of copper in the ground, and the decision about where to terminate the fiber is still a critical one.
Operators are already looking ahead to higher-speed broadband (gigabit/s and above), and to how they can best support a converging fixed/mobile network and deliver higher capacity at the access layer. Evolutions of GPON and EPON are available, and the recently standardized hybrid time- and wavelength-division multiplexed PON (TWDM-PON) technology will be of interest, as well as WDM-PON - a PON version of the optical transport technology used by operators already.
WDM-PON vendors will have to work hard to convince operators to consider extending their WDM networks using PON to address requirements in mobile front/backhaul and for business applications. WDM-PON's major problem is that the biggest issue that must be addressed (reducing the cost of optical components) will likely be solved in parallel with the similar effort required to spur NG-PON2, and operators' instinct will be to choose an access technology from their main access vendors, not from companies better known as transport system vendors.
Next-Generation PON: Status & Prospects examines technology developments and standardization efforts for the next generation of PON, and considers which technologies will be used and for what. It looks at how specific markets for next-gen PON will evolve, and compares the focus and portfolios of vendors. Finally it profiles 13 of the leading suppliers of PON equipment.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Summary of Key Technologies - Characteristics & Status
*Reach and splits are dependent on fiber used and operator choice.
Source: Heavy Reading Insider.
Developing faster versions of the long-established gigabit EPON and GPON technologies has not been a smooth process. In part this is because the capabilities of EPON and GPON have been shown to be more than adequate to meet the needs of residential applications, yet not quite good enough for many business applications where faster symmetric bandwidth is often required. Some technologies have been developed and standardized, but have not been commercially successful. The table in the following excerpt summarizes these.
Companies profiled in this report include: Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN); ADVA Optical Networking (FWB: ADV); Aeponyx Inc.; Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Applied Optoelectronics Inc.; Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX); Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO); Genexis B.V.; Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.; Transmode Systems AB (Nasdaq OMX Stockholm: TRMO); Zhone Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: ZHNE); and ZTE Corp.