Verizon Trial of NG-PON2 Demonstrates Multi-Vendor Interoperability

Verizon Communications says it has reached a breakthrough in lab trials of NG-PON2 technology that will allow various vendors to supply NG-PON2 components to service providers. NG-PON2 can support 40 gigabits per second of network capacity.   Verizon called the interop test a “breakthrough,” because it represents a significant step in creating a platform that will enabling the mixing and matching of vendors for various components for NG-PON2, an emerging standard  (ITU-T approved the NG-PON2 specs in 2015)  that enables up to 40 Gbps of capacity and symmetrical speeds of up 10 Gbps per customer.

In current PON deployments, operators have to use the same company for both optical line terminals (OLTs), the termination point on the service provider side, and optical network terminals (ONTs), the termination point at the end user location. Verizon is determined to change that paradigm. The company plans to publish the open OMCI (ONT Management and Control Interface) specifications that define its new OLT-to-ONT interface in the coming months.  The Verizon OMCI spec is being developed as part of the ITUT G.988 standard.

“We would like NG-PON2 to be the first PON system which is interoperable from day one, and that’s very important for us,” Verizon’s lead engineer on the trial, Dr. Denis Khotimsky, told Light Reading.   He said it’s too early to speculate on when NG-PON2 will be ready for commercial deployments.  “We’ll proceed with deployment once we see the technology to be mature, cost efficient and when we see the customer demand for the services it provides,” he told MultiChannel News (see reference below).

Unlike when Verizon upgraded from BPON to GPON more than a decade ago, Verizon is hoping to create a more flexible ecosystem of vendors for the migration to NG-PON2.   Verizon’s current FTTP networks for FiOS use both the BPON and GPON, but the technologies used for them are not interoperable, so those systems are partitioned geographically while also requiring Verizon to use the same vendor for each end-point of those systems.

The mega telco’s first interop test for NG-PON2 included Adtran IncBroadcom Corp, Cortina Access, and Ericsson AB (in partnership with Calix Networks Inc).  If Verizon can ultimately depend on interoperable gear from a wider group of vendors, it may be able to exert pricing pressure more effectively and help drive the cost of NG-PON2 deployments down.  For now, Verizon isn’t willing to share if it’s working with other companies on NG-PON2 in addition to those listed in the trial.

Nokia Corp would be an obvious bet as an additional equipment partner, but so far that vendor has been left out in the cold. (See Verizon Readies Landmark NG-PON2 Trial.)

NG-PON2 is important for several reasons. It increases total capacity in the access network to 40 Gbit/s, with symmetrical 10-gig speeds possible for each individual customer. NG-PON2 is also resilient in a way that current GPON technology can’t match. Telcos will be able to use NG-PON2 to deliver services over multiple wavelengths on each fiber, making it easy to fail over from one wavelength to another as needed.

In particular, NG-PON2 is believed to be an important foundation for the future growth of 5G wireless technologies. One of the major use cases cited for the PON upgrade is the ability to provide both backhaul and fronthaul support for 5G deployments.

Despite the advantages of NG-PON2, however, several operators are considering an interim step on the road to next-generation PON. Companies like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) are evaluating XGS-PON technology for the near term as a less expensive alternative to NG-PON2.

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In Pursuit of Next Generation FTTP, Verizon OMCI Specs Seek NG-PON2 Interoperability