Nokia and Proximus (Belgium) demonstrate 1st implementation of 25GS-PON

Nokia and Proximus turned on what they call the world’s fastest fiber access network at a media event in Antwerp attended by the Belgian Minister of Telecommunications, the Mayor of Antwerp and executives and engineers from the two companies.

Operating over existing fiber with Nokia equipment deployed in the Proximus network, the first ever 25G PON live network connects the Havenhuis building in the Port of Antwerp with the Proximus central office in the middle of the city. The network speed exceeded 20 Gbps, making it the fastest fiber network in the world.

Proximus is the leading provider of fixed broadband networks in Belgium with 45.9% market share. The operator is accelerating the move to fiber, adding 10% coverage each year and is on target to reach at least 70% of homes and business by 2028. As part of its inspire 2022 vision, it is creating a high capacity open network which will be available to all operators, eliminating the need for fiber overbuild.

Rupert Wood, Research Director for Fiber Networks at Analysys Mason, said: “Today’s 25G PON achievement demonstrates the unlimited potential of fiber. This next evolution in fiber technology will provide enterprises with greater than 10 Gbs connectivity and the capacity needed to support 5G transport along with future next generation services such as massive scale Virtual Reality and real time digital twins.”.

Guillaume Boutin, CEO Proximussaid: “The activation of the first 25G PON network worldwide shapes our bold ambition to be a trendsetter, to become a reference operator in Europe and, why not, across the globe. Together with Nokia, we have achieved a technological leap forward that will become a key enabler of the digital and economy and society that we stand for. Today’s announcement is also an occasion to stand still and look at the pace at which we connect the citizens of Antwerp to the technology of the future. Thanks to huge investments, we are realizing an acceleration that is unseen in Europe, and I am convinced this will be crucial to remain competitive for us as a company, but also for Antwerp as a city and for our entire economy.”

Federico Guillén, President Network Infrastructure Nokia, said“10 years ago our companies launched the technology which enabled a switch to HD TV. Today we make history again with a network that is 200x faster. We are proud to support Proximus in enabling the world’s first 25G PON network, powered by Nokia’s Quillion chipset, which supports three generations of PON technologies. Quillion has been adopted by more than 100 operators since its launch last year and all operators deploying the Quillion based GPON and XGS-PON solution today have the capabilities to easily evolve to 25G PON.”

Nokia’s 25G PON solution utilizes the world’s first implementation of 25GS-PON technology and includes Lightspan access nodes, 25G/10G optical cards and fiber modems.

Nokia Lightspan FX and MX are high-capacity access nodes for massive scale fiber roll-outs. Usually located in telecom central office, they connect thousands of users via optical fibre, aggregate their broadband traffic and send it deeper in the network. The fiber access nodes can support multiple fiber technologies including GPON, XGS-PON, 25GS-PON and Point-to-Point Ethernet to deliver l wide range of services with the best fit technology..

Nokia ONT (Optical Network Termination) devices, or fiber optic modems, are located at the user location. They terminate the optical fiber connection and delivers broadband services within the user premises or cell sites.

Nokia supplied PON line cards with their Quillion chipset, which can handle 25 Gbps. The chipset can grow with gradual updates on an operator’s network. Nokia is already shipping the technology to 100 customers worldwide.

Nokia executives admitting during a webcast press conference today that its 25G PON tech still needed some work for large-scale deployments, but that it would be ready for large, prime-time rollouts in 2022, with enterprise and 5G backhaul applications expected to fuel initial demand.

PON (Passive Optical Networking) eliminates the need for active equipment on the connection, between the control panel and the end user’s network connection point. On the last mile, there is system of optical splitters that breaks the light signal into different wavelengths. This means the 25G connection can be shared by up to 32 households. Since end users do not constantly use the full connection, a high bandwidth per connection is still achievable.

Media Inquiries:
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One thought on “Nokia and Proximus (Belgium) demonstrate 1st implementation of 25GS-PON

  1. For Proximus, there is probably less interest in beating other, mainly non-Belgian operators than in showing politicians and regulators it is at the forefront. Unsurprisingly, then, Proximus had dragged along Bart de Wever, the mayor of Antwerp, who was famously caught with his pants down (literally) during an interview in January. A fully clothed Petra De Sutter, Belgium’s telecom minister, also made the event.

    Proximus wants authorities onside because it is spending about €5 billion ($6.1 billion) to blanket the small European country with fiber. Guillaume Boutin, the Belgian operator’s CEO, says he wants to cover 70% of homes and business by 2028 “and for that, we need investment, capacity and innovation.” It also needs regulators to be supportive of the civil works and tolerant of the disruption.

    For Nokia, the demo is more about ripping your shirt off after scoring from a 25-yard free kick. Its loss of market share in 5G after earlier product blunders has made it hyperaware that technology leadership is important. And while its reputation is solid in fixed, it faces challengers such as Adtran and Calix, two growing US providers.

    It is also locked in a battle with China’s Huawei over the future direction of the market. Nokia wants 25G PON, the technology it showed off in Antwerp, to be the natural successor to XGS-PON, the 10Gbit/s technology that is currently the most advanced the industry has to offer. Preferring 50G PON as the next step, Huawei and some of its Chinese customers effectively blocked the standardization of 25G PON last year.

    Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.
    In response, Nokia has marched 25G PON outside the International Telecommunications Union and set up what is now called the 25GS-PON MSA (for multi-source agreement) Group. The more telco supporters like Proximus that it can show off, the more momentum it can build. It has also developed its own chipset, branded Quillion, pitching this as an economical alternative to suppliers such as Broadcom.

    “That chipset supports the current technology, the upcoming XGS-PON technology and now the 25Gbit/s technology is being added,” said Geert Heyninck, the general manager of Nokia’s broadband access business unit. “Not only does the Quillion chipset bring the right functionality at the right cost point, but it does this at a power level which is half the previous generation of chipsets.”

    As boring as backhaul

    So when and where might 25G PON actually be used? Not in homes, for certain, and probably not for daredevils needing surgery, either. A likely scenario is that Proximus introduces it for backhaul purposes – providing connections between mobile basestations and the core network – when it start to densify its 5G network (essentially, add more sites), according to Geert Standaert, the operator’s chief technology officer. Business customers may also have a need for the higher-speed technology.

    The nice thing for Proximus is that once the civil works are done and the fiber is laid, upgrading to XGS-PON and then 25G PON should be fairly straightforward and comparatively inexpensive. Assuming Nokia pockets some cash for providing and activating line cards and other gubbins, it also benefits.

    Ideally, the completion of the fiber rollout will bring a drop in capital intensity, boosting profitability and bringing joy to shareholders. But operators may by then have figured out there is something else demanding their investment attention. And as for making additional revenue from high-speed connectivity, fiber and 5G have so far turned out to be the biggest planetary disappointment since the Star Wars reboot of the late nineties.

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