Passive Optical Network (PON) technologies moving to 10G and 25G

A Variety of PON Technologies to Chose From:

Passive Optical Network (PON) technology is changing, moving from older GPON’s 2.5Gbit/s and 1.25Gbit/s data rates to XGS-PON’s maximum 10Gbit/s symmetric speeds and technologies such as NGPON2 and  25G PON (described at the end of this article).

“We didn’t see a lot of adoption of the XG, XGS-PON and 10G EPONs (Ethernet PONs) particularly because of cost within these networks, but what we have started seeing is the next generation or the NG-PON2 that uses time wave division multiplexing,” said Jason Morris, marketing manager at Corning Optical Communications during a webinar sponsored by Light Reading.  Using up to eight wavelengths to create multiple transmission channels on a single strand of fiber “you can actually get up to 80G with this technology with channel bonding,” he added.

Rich Loveland, director of product management at Vecima Networks, pointed to explosive growth in fiber optic development, spurred by government broadband stimulus funding and connections to MDUs. In these broadband upgrade projects, “you don’t have to put PON in for it, but most are choosing it they are unserved anyway. It’s primarily a greenfield-type of operation.”

Among telcos, the choices are expanding beyond older GPON technology toward more advanced standards such as XGS-PON, which is “starting to come up quite a bit now over some of the NG-PON2 types of technologies,” Loveland said. “They are developing 25G. The ITU-T is defining 50G single-wavelength, and NG-PON2 seems to be adopted by one major operator right now.”

One year ago, AT&T deployed XGS-PON as per this IEEE Techblog post.  It went live in 40 markets AT&T serves.

For most cable operators, it’s not realistic to replace all their coax access network with fiber, said Jorge Figueroa, manager of PON Solutions at Harmonic. Instead, he pointed to cloud-native platforms to provide a better migration path to PON fiber, with lower-cost, off-the-shelf programmable hardware that can manage DOCSIS or PON architectures simultaneously.

“Distributed Access Architecture allows us to go fiber-deeper, and by doing that we can provide Gigabit symmetric feeds by going maybe to DOCSIS 4.0,” he said. “The goal here is to squeeze the most out of that HFC, while at the same time giving us an easy transition to PON.”

Viavi has seen providers move from 1Gbit/s to 10Gbit/s services, with new builds favoring newer transmission schemes such as XGS-PON or 10G EPON options, said Douglas Clague, solutions marketing manager at Viavi.

A live Light Reading webinar poll indicates operators are exploring different PON upgrade options. With the ability to choose more than one option, about 29.9% said they were deploying next-generation PON technologies, while 18.2% said their companies were opting to go fiber-deep and an equal number were looking to deploy FTTP.  About 15.6% were implementing DAA, while 13% were expecting to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 and 5.2% were moving to network virtualization.

In a IEEE Techblog post last week, Dell’Oro analyst Jeff Heynen said:

“The shift to 10 Gbps PON technologies is happening quickly and on a global basis,” noted Jeff Heynen, Vice President, Broadband Access and Home Networking at Dell’Oro Group. “The only thing preventing further expansions are supply chain constraints and increased costs,” Heynen explained.
“You can see the trajectory. It’s very clear that operators, if they’re deploying new fiber networks, in a lot of cases they’re doing so starting off with 10-gig. And even those that are beginning the process of upgrading from the first-generation GPON technologies they’re also doing so with XGS,” Heynen said. “This trend was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
“I think what has happened among operators, particularly in North America, is that they’re starting to realize that if we deploy more fiber and we do so with multi-gigabit capabilities then we’re putting ourselves in a position to anticipate and at least already be competitive with that DOCSIS 4.0 rollout.”
In a follow up email, Jeff wrote: “a number of these XGS-PON deployments are to replace legacy P2P Ethernet networks.”
25G PON Developments:
25G PON deployments are a bit further in the future. Last October, Nokia  established the 25GS_PON MSA Group to bring together optical network operators along with leading system and component vendors, to promote and accelerate the development and deployment of 25 Gigabit Symmetrical Passive Optical Network (25GS-PON) technology.
The group seeks to develop the technical specification, strengthen the eco-system and promote market development of symmetrical 25G PON technology ahead of standards authorization by the ITU-T.
Last month we reported that Nokia and Proximus (Belgium) demonstrated the first implementation of 25GS-PON. 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.
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.”


Dell’Oro: Broadband Access equipment spending increased 18% YoY

AT&T, six others join industry push for 25G PON technology

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

AT&T deploys XGS-PON to power FTTH nets



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3 thoughts on “Passive Optical Network (PON) technologies moving to 10G and 25G

  1. ITU-T PON standards -progress and recent activities

    Passive Optical Network (PON) system
    • A point-to-multipoint optical communication system.
    • The most popular system to realize Fiber To The Home (FTTH) in the world.
    • Multiple (e.g. 16 to 128) ONUs communicate with an OLT via optical splitter(s).

    Q2/SG15 has worked on several generations of PON:
    – G.982 (pi-PON) Mostly of historical interest
    – G.983 (A/B-PON) Perhaps 10M ONUs deployed
    – G.984 (G-PON) Several 100M ONUs deployed
    – G.987 (XG-PON)
    – G.9807 (XGS-PON) Both beginning to grow now
    – G.989 (NG-PON2) Ecosystem building stage
    • Additionally, several point to point systems were specified
    – G.985 (Bidi 100Mb/s Ethernet access) (aka 100Base-BX)
    – G.986 (Bidi 1Gb/s Ethernet access) (aka 1000Base-BX)

    XGS-PON: • 10-Gbit/s Symmetric PON system based on TDM and TDMA
    NG-PON2: 40-Gbit/s capable PON system based on TWDM (Primary) and PtP WDM overlay (Optional)

  2. Frontier Communications (NASDAQ: FYBR) announced today that it completed the U.S.’ first-ever trial of Nokia’s 25G PON broadband technology. PON, or Passive Opitical Network, is the technology used to provide blazing-fast broadband to customers over fiber-optic cables. The two companies will continue trials on Frontier’s network while planning for commercial deployment in the second half of 2022.

    Consumer and business customers need increased bandwidth to advance beyond basic applications and amplify their use of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics. Nokia’s 25G PON technology allows Frontier to use its current fiber-optic network to easily provide increased bandwidth for consumers and enterprise customers. Since GPON, XGS-PON, and 25G PON operate on different wavelengths, they can co-exist on the same fiber, avoiding the capital expense of building a parallel network.

    In addition to strengthening Frontier’s fiber-optic network speed advantage, 25G PON technology will increase the cost efficiency of deploying high-capacity networks to business and consumers and enable the company to sell capacity to 5G mobile operators.

    Source: Frontier Communications Dec 14, 2021

  3. Jeff Heynen, Dell’Oro Group VP of Broadband Access and Home Networking, gave Fierce Telecom his take on what to expect in the coming year. First and foremost, he said, fiber isn’t going away.

    “I don’t think that you can talk about cable without also talking about fiber,” he said. According to Heynen, there’s a growing mindset among certain cable players that “now would be a good time to go ahead and start to overbuild with fiber, particularly if some of the subscriber growth that has slowed down continues to impact the bottom line.” Indeed, the beginnings of this trend could already be seen in 2021, as companies like Blue Ridge Communications in the U.S. and Virgin Media O2 in the U.K. announced plans to rebuild their entire cable networks with fiber.

    In North America, Heynen said Tier 2 and Tier 3 players are the ones jumping ship to fiber the fastest, in part because it’s less expensive for them to do so than it would be for a company like Comcast or Charter Communications. They’re also being driven by a need to stay competitive and the prospect of cost savings stemming from the removal of active electronics in the field.

    For larger cablecos like Comcast and Charter which are sticking with DOCSIS, Heynen tipped 2022 to bring more activity around distributed access architecture (DAA) and more work to prep their outside plant for the rollout of DOCSIS 4.0. Comcast is expected to press ahead with Remote PHY technology, driving an increase in Remote PHY device shipments. But those like Charter and Cox Communications who want to pursue Remote MAC-PHY technology will run into one key problem.

    “The challenge is going to be the silicon,” Heynen said. “Unfortunately, the silicon issues and the supply chain issues are going to be the thing that holds Remote MAC-PHY back in 2022.”

    In terms of technology, Heynen tipped automation to be another focus area for cable in the coming year. For broadband in general “speed is going to become less important because we’re starting to get to equivalencies with gigabit and all that,” he said. Instead, consumers will start focusing on factors like reliability and latency, among other things.

    “Cable, they need to get to that point where they can customize the provisioning of services based on a customer profile,” he added.

    Cable players are obviously expected to face competitive pressure from fiber going forward. But Heynen and analysts from New Street Research indicated they’ll also need to keep a wary eye on fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband.

    “We think fiber and FWB adds will increase as the footprint across which each is offered expands. Unless the entire market accelerates, cable adds have to slow,” New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote in November.

    Heynen concurred, stating “I do think it’s a threat.” While FWA providers are finding early success pulling unhappy DSL customers, he argued there’s going to be a point at which existing cable subscribers could be lured away by a FWA provider with stellar customer service.

    “There’s a real potential challenge here coming from on one side fiber and on the other side fixed wireless,” Heynen concluded. “Discounting it is just the wrong approach.”

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