PON’s Vulnerability to Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

by Shrihari Pandit

Introduction:

The dominant architecture used in fiber optic deployment -Passive Optical Networks (PONs) may be vulnerable to attack. It is important to bring attention to this under-appreciated weakness and discuss what steps are possible to protect fiber infrastructure.

As various PON technologies are long standing and widely deployed, this is a matter of no small concern. PONs are widely deployed by Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and many others.

The PON architecture is a hodgepodge of old and new technologies, hardware and strategy, limited budget and often is not overseen by a single team.

In this article we describe how fiber optic infrastructure based on PONs may be open to potential denial of service (DoS) attacks via optical signal injections. Security experts warn that this is a growing issue, which could take down entire sectors of PON segments.

Considering the ever increasing state-sponsored and non-state-actor cyber attacks, these types of vulnerabilities that allow for massive disruption for large groups of people are very attractive targets.

PON Overview:

The cost advantages of PON architecture make it the overwhelming choice for FTTH deployments. PON allows wireline network providers to deliver service to businesses and homes without having to install costly active electronics on roads, curb-side or even within buildings themselves.

Active electronics, on the other hand, add cost and create operational complexity as deployments scale. The conveniences and differentiators of PONs are precisely what opens up the floodgates to serious vulnerabilities.

PONs are fundamentally susceptible due to the architecture from the passive optical splitter (POS) to the optical network unit (ONU) within the overall network infrastructure. The POS component of the network functions like a bridge, allowing any and all communications to transverse without the ability to filter, limit or restrict flow.

The fiber optic market currently boasts 585.9 million subscribers worldwide, with that number set to grow to 897.8 million subscribers by 2021.

The industry has moved to upgrade 1st generation GPONs and EPONs to next-generation PONs, like NG-PON2 (the favorite), XG-PON1 and XGS-PON.  For example, Verizon uses the Calix AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System for large-scale NG-PON2 deployments that began in the first quarter of 2018.

However, with subscriber density significantly increasing per PON segment, the risks increase as more subscribers are affected by a cyber attack on a single fiber.

Sidebar:  NG-PON2

NG-PON2 combines multiple signals onto a single optical fiber by using the different wavelengths of laser light (wave division multiplexing), and then splits transmission into time slots (time division multiplexing), in order to further increase capacity. NG-PON2 is illustrated in the figure below.

Legend: 

 OLT =Optical Line Termination                                                         ONT =Optical Network Termination

NGPON2 has three key advantages for operators:

1. Cost

Firstly, it can co-exist with existing GPON and NGPON1 systems and is able to use existing PON-capable outside plant. Since the cost of PON FTTH roll out is 70 per cent accounted for by the optical distribution network (ODN), this is significant. Operators have a clear upgrade path from where they are now, until well into the future.

2. Speed

Initially NGPON2 will provide a minimum of 40 Gb/s downstream capacity, produced by four 10 Gb/s signals on different wavelengths in the O-band multiplexed together in the central office with a 10 Gb/s total upstream capacity. This capability can be doubled to provide 80 Gb/s downstream and 20 Gb/s upstream in the “extended” NGPON2.

3. Symmetrical upstream/downstream capacity

Both the basic and extended implementations are designed to appeal to domestic consumers where gigabit downstream speeds may be needed but more modest upstream needs prevail. For business users with data mirroring and similar requirements, a symmetric implementation will be provided giving 40/40 and 80/80 Gb/s capacity respectively.

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The Essence of a PON Cyber Attack:

Given the flashpoints around the globe, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision how state and non-state actors might want to cause such a chaotic and widespread disruption.

If a “cyber criminal” gains access to the underlying fiber, they could inject a wideband optical signal to disrupt communications for all subscribers attached to the PON segment.

Alternatively, at your home the adversary could manipulate the ONU’s optical subsystem to transmit abnormal PON signals and impact service to all subs on that segment. Communications including internet, voice and even analog TV signals that operate on nearby wavelengths would be susceptible to these serious DoS attacks.

Possible Solutions, Preventive Methods and Procedures:

So, what can be done with current equipment without a massive and costly fiber optic network overhaul? The unfortunate answer is that an overarching vulnerability will always exist as long as the passive components are in place.  A reactionary process is the best and only option.

The current primary solution for operators is to reduce the number of subscribers per PON segment as a way to manage risks. If an attack was detected, the network operator would be able to localize the source and identify and disconnect the bad actor from the network. But it’s easier said than done.

This sort of manual process is not ideal. Extensive PON outages means spending the time and money to send personnel to optical line terminals to check each individual port until the attacker is found. The installation of active electronics on each PON segment or near PON subscribers is unrealistic and impractical. That undertaking would actually be more costly in terms of time, money and location.

The best ongoing solution is that operators should consider installing passive tap points per PON segment. Each can be independently routed back and managed at a provider’s operations center and allow operators to effectively analyze segments and detect unusual optical light levels that may signal an attack.

At that point the operator could physically dispatch techs on-site to continue the localization and resolution process while ensuring other non-threatening users remain unaffected. This solution is to effectively take a reactionary restriction and make it as automatic and proactive as currently possible.

Conclusions:

P2MP (point to multi-point) architecture has become the most popular solution for FTTH and FTTP.  Yet there needs to be a severe increase in awareness to potential PON vulnerability into the next generation.

If we can catalyze the telecom industry to develop methods and measures to protect infrastructure, such crippling network security issues will be stopped before widespread exploits occur.

The industry needs to address these concerns sooner rather than later or else be left without effective countermeasures against these very real threats.

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References:

https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/cyberpedia/what-is-a-denial-of-service-attack-dos

https://s2.ist.psu.edu/paper/ddos-chap-gu-june-07.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G93I_v2pa24

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About Shrihari Pandit:

Shrihari Pandit is the President and CEO of Stealth Communications, the NYC-based ISP he co-founded in 1995. Stealth, having built its own fiber-optic network throughout the city, provides high-bandwidth connectivity services to a broad roster of customers in business, education and government.

Prior to Stealth, Mr. Pandit was a network-security consultant to various software and telecom companies, including MCI, Sprint and Sun Microsystems. He also served as an independent consultant to several U.S. agencies, including NASA and the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Fastweb to launch 5G in 4 Italian cities and boost FTTH speeds to 2.5 Gbps

Italian network operator Fastweb plans to activate 5G in an initial four cities before the end of the year (it is the fifth mobile operator in Italy).

Separately, Fastweb will increase the top speed of its existing FTTH service to 2.5 Gbps in the coming months. The company already leads Italy’s fixed gigabit market with a 36.5 percent share of FTTH subscribers having download speeds of 1 Gbps speeds. It now intends to upgrade its proprietary network in 30 large cities so that it can hike top speeds from 1 Gbps to 2.5 Gbps at no additional cost in around 4 million homes, covering 15 percent of Italy’s population, starting in February 2021.

These two announcements follow the launch of Fastweb’s ‘UltraFWA’ service in partnership with Linkem to offer speeds of 1Mbps in 3 localities in the south of the country.  Linkem said the 5G FWA service is now available in Modugno, Grottaglie and Avellino. Those are the first 3 of the 50 localities the network operator aims to connect by the end of this year, rising to 500 by the end of next year. part of a commitment to bridge the digital divide in “historically disadvantaged” areas of southern Italy.

Fastweb Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Fastweb said it will continue to bridge the digital divide in small and medium-sized Italian towns with its new 5G FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) service. ‘UltraFWA’ will offer speeds of up to 1Gbps in a total of 50 localities by the end of this year, rising to 500 by the end of next year and around 2,000 by 2024 for a total coverage of 8 million homes in ‘grey’ areas and 4 million in ‘white’ areas.

The increased performance and coverage are part of Fastweb’s new multi-year commitment to citizens, institutions and companies called ‘NeXXt Generation 2025’. The plan to connect millions of families throughout the country is based on the three pillars of technological leadership, transparency and social responsibility, with the operator also confirming plans to activate its 5G service in an initial four cities on 27 December. Fastweb 5G will switch on in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Naples and then gradually extend to other cities to reach 90 percent of the population by 2025.

The company added that it will be the only operator to make 5G technology available to both new and existing customers at no additional cost and with no constraints whatsoever. Fastweb last year signed an ambitious decade-long network sharing deal with WindTre to jointly roll out 5G infrastructure on a national scale, having previously acquired a 200MHz frequency block in the 26 GHz band in Italy’s 5G spectrum auction in October 2018, swiftly followed by 40 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band from Tiscali.

 

References:

https://www.fastweb.it/

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/fastweb-to-launch-5g-in-4-cities-and-hike-ftth-speeds-to-25gbps–1365827

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/linkem-and-fastweb-connect-first-3-localities-to-5g-fwa-service–1365560

Telecompaper: FTTH spurs growth in Netherlands broadband market

FTTH accounted for all of the new growth on the Netherlands broadband market in Q3 2020, the latest research by Telecompaper shows. Cable operators lost broadband subscribers for the first time on record, suggesting the fiber market is really taking off.

The mass market (consumer + SOHO) added 32,000 fixed broadband subscribers in the third quarter, the same number as in Q2 and slightly less than the year-earlier period, according to Telecompaper’s quarterly Dutch Broadband report.

FTTH growth accelerated to 68,000 new connections, while cable lost 8,000 customers and DSL shed 28,000 lines.  The decrease in cable customers was driven by market leader Ziggo, which lost 7,000 broadband subscribers in the period. This is the first time it has lost customers since launching cable broadband. Nevertheless, Ziggo remains market leader, with over 43 percent of Dutch broadband subscribers.

KPN was the biggest gainer on the market, adding 37,000 broadband customers in Q3. KPN’s growth is driven by the takeover of customers from its discontinued Telfort brand and an accelerating FTTH roll-out in the past year. The KPN brand added over 40,000 FTTH subscribers in the quarter, more than four times the rate of growth in Q3 2019. This increased its share of the total FTTH market to 53.5 percent of connections.

T-Mobile Netherlands also continued to grow, adding 31,000 broadband subscribers. This makes it the third-largest broadband brand with a 5.3 percent market share. In the FTTH segment, T-Mobile is number two with just over 13 percent of connections, followed closely by Caiway with 12 percent.

“The figures suggest KPN’s strategy to speed up its FTTH roll-out is starting to pay off and stem the loss of broadband subscribers,” said Kamiel Albrecht, Telecompaper’s senior research analyst for the Dutch fixed market. “Ziggo is not sitting still and should soon complete its nationwide roll-out of gigabit service, putting the companies on more equal footing. More intensive marketing of the top speeds can be expected in 2021, as the importance of broadband remains top of the mind during the pandemic.”

The above figures are based on Telecompaper’s continuous analysis of the Dutch broadband market. For a comprehensive overview of market data and trends, including a five-year forecast, the Q3 2020 edition of the Dutch Broadband report is now available for purchase on the Telecompaper website.

From Global Data:

The Netherlands' fixed broadband penetration of the population set to reach  48% by 2024

 

Reference:

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/fibre-dominates-dutch-broadband-growth-in-q3-2020–1364963

FTTH accelerating in Europe: penetration forecast to reach 65% in 2026

The number of FTTH/B subscribers in Europe is expected to more than double in the next six years, to 208 million in 2026 compared to an estimated 86 million this year. According to the forecasts by iDate presented at the annual (this time virtual) FTTH Council Europe conference, the number of homes passed by fiber will grow over the same period to 317 million from 195 million. That translates into approximately two-thirds fiber network penetration rate, compared to less than half currently.

 Roland Montagne of Idate DigiWorld presenting during the second day of the conference.

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The forecasts cover 39 countries across Europe. Idate also looked at the 27 EU members plus the UK and found similar growth rates. The number of FTTH/B subscribers in these countries is expected to roughly triple by 2026, to 148 million from 49 million this year, driven by accelerating roll-out in key markets such as Germany, the UK and Italy. Homes passed in the 28 countries are estimated at 202 million in 2026, versus 105 million this year.  Some markets are expected to experience an outstanding growth in the number of homes passed in 2026 compared with 2019, including Germany (+730 per cent), United Kingdom (+548 per cent) and Italy (+218 per cent).

While the Covid pandemic has underlined the need for fast broadband at home, other trends were already underway to support fibre take-up, the researchers said. These include the upcoming switch-off of copper networks, more network-sharing and co-investment agreements, strong commitments from public authorities to FTTH, and the need for fiber backhaul on 5G mobile networks.

In the country rankings, it is predicted that Russia will continue leading in terms of FTTH/B homes passed. However, it is also anticipated that Germany will bag the second spot in the 2026 ranking.

In terms of subscribers, the forecast predicts a further increase to around 148 million in 2026 for EU27+UK and approximately 208 million for EU38+UK. The FTTH/B take-up rate is likely to reach 73 per cent in 2026, demonstrating an upward trend compared with a recorded 23.4 per cent in 2012.

The FTTH Council Europe published a separate study by Wik following up on its research last year into the progress with copper shutdowns. While the situation is fragmented in Europe, progress in some countries shows turning off copper and switching to fibre can have significant benefits for the economy and the environment, as well as improving reliability and customer satisfaction.

Consumer awareness about the copper shutdown has been a positive factor in some countries in stimulating fiber take-up. The latest forecasts on fibre take-up are also based in part on the increased perception of broadband’s importance since the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, additional measures by policy-makers aimed at increasing take-up are still crucial for Europe to benefit from the potential of full fiber, the Council said.

FTTH/B deployments are intensifying across Europe, so it is worth noting that a new digital divide for teleworking performance was revealed by the Covid-19 crisis. Beyond its impact on public policies, it is clear that Covid-19 has changed public perception of the importance of broadband and willingness to accept premium for fiber. This new trend is one of the key drivers for the very high estimates for FTTH/B take up. However, additional measures by policy-makers aimed at increasing take-up are still crucial for the future of full fiber.

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References:

https://www.primaonline.it/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/PR-Market-Forecasts-market-panorama-2020-3-03-2020-FINAL.pdf

https://www.ftthcouncil.eu/documents/FTTH%20Council%20Europe%20-%20Forecast%20for%20EUROPE%202020-2026%20AFTER%20COVID19%20-%20FINAL%20Published%20Version.pdf

https://www.ftthcouncil.eu/documents/FTTH%20Council%20Europe%20-%20Panorama%20at%20September%202019%20-%20Webinar%20Version4.pdf

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/ftth-take-up-accelerating-in-europe-penetration-forecast-to-reach-65-in-2026–1364315

https://www.fibre-systems.com/news/fibre-forecasts-revealed-ftth-conference

UK set to join Europe’s big guns on full fibre rollout

Spain’s plan to bring FTTH and 5G to its entire population

The Spanish government has announced further details of the plan to bring broadband at speeds of at least 100Mbps and 5G to the entire Spanish population.  The Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures and the Strategy to Promote 5G Technology, part of the government’s Spain Digital 2025 Agenda, will receive EUR 4.3 billion of public funding for expanding fiber-optic infrastructure to underserved areas and extending 5G coverage. In a short statement, the government said EUR 883 million is already in the 2021 budget, which should receive parliamentary approval in the next few weeks.

The government added that it expects operators to invest around EUR 24 billion on rolling out FTTH (Fiber To The Home) and 5G technology within the same time frame. “The goal is for everyone, irrespective of where they live, to enjoy the benefits of these advances in connectivity under a plan that is of particular relevance to rural Spain,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero.

Spain plan

Fiber optic coverage currently stands at 46% of the Spanish population, double the European average,   84% of Spain’s population can currently access speeds of 100Mbps, a figure the government expects to increase to 91% by the end of 2021.

The Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures has three main objectives:

  1. Use broadband as something to favor the territorial structuring of Spain, promoting the deployment of broadband in urban centers and depopulated areas, so that the 100% of the population of Spain have access to at least 100 Mbps speed. Currently, this speed reaches 84% ​​of the population, and by the end of 2021 it is estimated that it will reach 91% of the population. Fiber optic coverage in rural areas now reaches 46% of the population, doubling the European average and well above countries such as France (12%), Germany (6%) or the United Kingdom (6%). However, there is still a long way to go.
  2. 100% of the industrial estates in Spain have a scalable connection to at least 1 Gbps in 2025.  The plan includes all the actions to strengthen connectivity associated with business environments: industrial estates, logistics centers or business parks. The goal is for 100% of industrial estates to have a connection scalable to one gigabit per second by 2025, one of the objectives of the European strategy “the Gigabit Society.”
  3. For Spain to become a European data hub, being a center for cloud services and interconnection with satellite networks. The plan includes the measures aimed at improving the connectivity of cross-border digital infrastructures and promoting participation in European programs of common interest (IPCEI) that will be executed in the period 2021-2027, such as the industrial alliance for cloud services and the secure communications satellite system, both necessary to cement European digital sovereignty and the growth of the national technology industry.

In addition, the 5G technology push strategy aims to complement fiber optics. Spain is leading the 5G pre-commercial pilot experiences in the EU, being the second European country with the most cities with 5G (39 already), only behind the United Kingdom.  Spain’s government wants to expand 5G access to cover at least 75% of the population by 2025.   This plan will seek to facilitate the availability of bands for 5G services, where that of 3.5 GHz is already available and that of 700 MHz will soon be in March 2021. It is also aimed at ensuring that there is not a single cutoff of 5G service coverage on major roads, railways or airports.

For this, new aid will be enabled for the deployment of 5G infrastructures. A regulatory and administrative framework will also be created that encourages investments, in addition to creating a safe and reliable environment for the deployment of networks and the establishment of companies.

Cybersecurity Law must transpose into the Spanish legal system the instruments and measures (toolbox) that the Member States of the European Union agreed upon at the beginning of this year in order to mitigate security risks in 5G networks and create a secure and reliable environment that drives deployment and fosters adoption.

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References:

https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/consejodeministros/Paginas/enlaces/011220-enlace-digital.aspx

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/spain-outlines-eur-43-bln-plan-to-bring-fibre-or-5g-to-all-by-2025–1364118

https://webeenow.com/the-government-promises-fiber-or-5g-for-all-peoples-in-5-years/

 

Swisscom achieves 50 Gbps on a fixed PON connection – a world first!

Swisscom has achieved transmission speeds of 50 Gbps  in a real PON (Passive Optical Network) environment test – a world first, according to the company.  Swisscom has upgraded existing OLT (Optical Line Termination) hardware with a 50 Gbps PON Line Card prototype to reach a download speed of 50 Gbps and an upload speed of 25 Gbps on a fixed network.

The PON technology can be ready to market and deployed in around two years, according to Swisscom. It can be an option for business customers initially. Progressive network virtualization will enable companies to use the bandwidth they need on a flexible basis in line with their requirements.

The 10 Gbps service is expected to be sufficient for the residential mass market for several years yet, the company said. The 50 Gbps option allows for flexible deployment using existing fibre-optic infrastructure.

Markus Reber, Head of Swisscom Networks, said: “There is no question that the bandwidth need will continue to increase over the coming years. That’s why, here at Swisscom, we are already considering how our technology needs to develop to ensure that Switzerland continues to be ready to take advantage of the latest digital services with the best possible experience in the future. The results of testing based on PON technology and architecture clearly demonstrate that we have some powerful options available.”

“In my opinion, PON with 50 Gbit/s will be an option for the business customer market initially. Progressive network virtualisation will enable companies to use the bandwidth they need on a flexible basis in line with their requirements, for instance. In contrast, the 10 Gbit/s already available in the residential mass market should be more than enough for several years to come. However, the 50 Gbit/s option offers even more opportunities, as it allows the existing fibre optic infrastructure to be deployed in a more versatile way. As an example, the technology will soon facilitate access to mobile communication masts, particularly for 5G, as the same network can be used as the one already built to connect households. With a transmission speed of 50 Gbit/s, there is ample bandwidth available.”

The technology also will support fiber optic access to mobile communication masts, particularly for 5G, since the same network can be used as the one already built to connect households.

Swisscom says that “over the coming years, the development of digital applications will result in a similar growth in bandwidth need as seen in recent years, when it increased more than tenfold within a decade. Swisscom is therefore investing in network expansion on an ongoing basis, deploying the latest innovative technologies to do so and safeguarding Switzerland’s high degree of digital competitiveness.”

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In April 2020, market research powerhouse Omdia (owned by Informa) forecast that In the 2018-2025 timeframe, the PON market will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3% to be worth $8.4 billion by 2025. “This market remains in an upswing as operators continue to expand and upgrade their fiber-based access networks for both residential and non-residential subscribers and applications,” states the Omdia team in their report (published prior to the global impact of COVID-19, it should be noted).

PON and xDSL/Gfast equipment market by major segment, 2017-2025.

Omdia: PON and xDSL/Gfast equipment market by major segment, 2017–2025

Growth in the PON market will be driven by increasing demand for next-generation PON equipment, including 10G GPON, 10G EPON, NG-PON2 and 25G/50G PON, according to Omdia: By 2021, most GPON OLT (optical line terminal) shipments are expected to be 10G.

Omdia expects demand for NG-PON2 equipment (which is expensive because it includes tunable lasers) is expected to be limited, with significant deployments anticipated only by one major operator, Verizon.

In Western Europe, PON investments are only just starting: That market is set for a CAGR of 16.5% to be worth $1.6 billion in 2025.

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References:

https://www.swisscom.ch/en/about/news/2020/10/08-weltpremiere.html

https://www.swisscom.ch/content/dam/swisscom/en/about/news/2020/10/08-weltpremiere/08-weltpremiere-en.pdf.res/08-weltpremiere-en.pdf

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/swisscom-reaches-50-gbps-in-real-network-environment–1357116

http://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=758638

Deutsche Telekom in 10-year contract with Telefonica Germany for FTTH access

Deutsche Telekom has extended its contract with Telefonica for access to its broadband network for the next ten years. Under the pact, which applies in Germany, Deutsche Telekom will grant Telefonica access to FTTH lines with download speeds of up to 1 Gbps for the first time. Telefonica will market Telekom’s FTTH connections to its customers.
This is the first time that a company has decided to use Deutsche Telekom’s FTTH network and follows a recent acceleration Germany’s fiber roll-out. Deutsche Telekom said it wants to conclude similar agreements with other providers.
A pioneering deal: Deutsche Telekom is to open up its fiber-optic networks to competitors on a long-term basis.
Image Credit:  Deutsche Telekom

This contract is an extension to a fiber-optic network deal which was first agreed in 2013, and will give O2 customers in Germany access to speeds of up to 1 Gbps.  Telefonica will also be able to use existing VSDL/vectoring lines. The parties will submit the contract to the Federal Network Agency over the coming days for clearance. The agreement will become effective in spring 2021.

Telefonica already uses Deutsche Telekom’s VDSL network, which reaches 33 million households in Germany vs. approximately 1.8 million households with fiber-optic connections.   Deutsche Telekom will use the proceeds from the contract with Telefonica to further develop its fiber-optic network.

The cooperation is a long-term one and will apply throughout Germany. The VDSL and FTTH lines from Deutsche Telekom are wholesale products. Using Deutsche Telekom’s network, Telefónica Deutschland can provide its o2 customers with its own products. Both parties will submit the contract to the Federal Network Agency over the coming days.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Dirk Wössner said: “This is a pioneering deal for the buildout of the fiber-optic infrastructure in Germany for the next decade, based on a voluntary commercial agreement between two large market players from which many people and companies in Germany will benefit.  Deutsche Telekom stands for open networks and cooperations. And we are emphasizing this with this wide-reaching cooperation agreement. This contract will secure the utilisation of our broadband network. And we will receive financial resources that we will re-invest in our networks.”  Wössner added that the company would like to come to similar agreements with other operators in Germany with a view to expanding FTTH access.

Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Germany/O2, said: “The long-term cooperation with Deutsche Telekom gives us planning security. In future, we will be able to offer our O2 customers access to the fiber optic network, especially in large cities. On this basis we can offer our customers first-class convergent products.”

These two companies are already partners for mobile communications. Deutsche Telekom connects 5,000 Telefonica mobile sites to its fibre network. The two sides are also cooperating with Vodafone to improve mobile coverage in Germany.

The collaborative focus from Deutsche Telekom is contrasted against the efforts of Vodafone, which is similarly building out its fibre network. In July, Vodafone said that it was ahead of schedule to deliver gigabit internet to 25 million German homes by 2021, having surpassed 21 million houses.

References:
https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/dt-expanded-cooperation-telefonica-deutschland-o2-609562
https://www.digitaltveurope.com/2020/10/07/deutsche-telekom-and-telefonica-deutschland-sign-10-year-fixed-line-deal-including-ftth-access/

AT&T ends DSL sales while CWA criticizes AT&T’s broadband deployments

AT&T: DSL is Dead:

According to a message board post on DSL Reports, AT&T notified customers on billing statements in August that effective Oct. 1 it would no longer accept new orders for its copper-based DSL service.  The notice also said that existing DSL subs will no longer be able to make speed changes to their respective DSL service.

The message board author wrote:

“On my August AT&T statement, traditional DSL is officially grandfathered effective October 1st. No new orders (moves, installs, speed change, etc.). Hopefully they will still allow promos….”

That’s no surprise to this author.  AT&T’s DSL subscriber base has been eroding steadily – losing almost 350,000 subs over the past couple of years. In Q2 2020, AT&T shed 23,000 DSL subs, ending the period with just 463,000.

“We are focused on enhancing our network with more advanced, higher speed technologies like fiber and wireless, which consumers are demanding,” AT&T said in a statement. “We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1. Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

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AT&T Fiber Update:

AT&T also announced three new price points for its AT&T Fiber tiers and said that all new and existing AT&T Fiber Internet 100, Internet 300 and Internet 1000 subscribers would enjoy unlimited data without additional charges. AT&T Fiber started offering the new deals as a standalone product with no annual contracts for new customers on Sunday.

As of Q2-2020, AT&T had 4.3 million AT&T Fiber customers with nearly two million of them on 1-gigabit speeds. Overall, AT&T has about 15.3 million broadband subscribers while Charter has 28 million and Comcast has over 29 million.

AT&T’s fiber tier announcement comes after AT&T CEO John Stankey told a Goldman Sachs investor conference in September that “priority number one” is investing in fiber for 5G and FTTP services.

The new prices are also an indication that AT&T intends to ramp up its drive on FTTP sales in the wake of a recent study showing that many of AT&T’s new subs were coming from existing customers upgrading to fiber rather than from gaining market share from cable Internet operators (MSOs).

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CWA Calls Out AT&T’s broadband efforts:

Coincidently today, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) criticized AT&T’s lack of fiber deployments.  The report, co-authored with the National Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) stated:

AT&T is making the digital divide worse and failing its customers and workers by not investing in crucial buildout of fiber-optic infrastructure that is the standard for broadband networks worldwide. The company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

An in-depth analysis of AT&T’s network shows the company has made fiber available to fewer than a third of households in its footprint, halting most residential deployment after mid-2019. The analysis also shows that 28% of households in AT&T’s footprint do not have access to service that meets the FCC’s standard for high-speed internet, and in rural counties 72% of households lack this access. In some places, AT&T is decommissioning its outdated DSL networks and leaving customers with no option but wireless service, which is not a substitute for wireline service.

In all, AT&T has made fiber-to-the-home available for fewer than one-third of the households in its network. AT&T’s employees — many of whom are Communications Workers of America (CWA) members — know that the company could be doing much more to connect its customers to high-speed Internet if it invested in upgrading its wireline network with fiber. They know the company’s recent job cuts — more than 40,000 since 2018 — are devastating communities and hobbling the company’s ability to meet the critical need for broadband infrastructure.

CWA recommends that AT&T dedicate a substantial share of its free cash flow to investment in next-generation networks across rural and urban communities, make its low-income product offerings available widely, and stop laying off its skilled, unionized workers and outsourcing work to low-wage, irresponsible subcontractors.

Editor’s Note:

According to CWA, AT&T has deployed fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) to only 28% of the households in its fiber coverage area as of the end of June 30, 2019.

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The CWA/NDIA report said AT&T has targeted more affluent, non-rural areas for its fiber upgrades. Houses with fiber have a median income that’s 34% higher than those with DSL only. Across the rural counties in AT&T’s 21-state footprint, only a miniscule 5% have access to fiber, according to the report.

According to the report, 14.93 million—out of almost 53 million households—have access to AT&T’s fiber service. Among states, AT&T’s FTTH build out is the lowest in Michigan with 14% have access followed by Mississippi (15%) and Arkansas (16%).

“AT&T is also failing to make fiber available to the majority of its customer base in cities,” according to the report.  “While most of AT&T’s fiber build has focused on urban areas—96 percent of households with access to fiber in AT&T’s footprint are in predominantly urban counties—the company hasn’t built enough fiber to reach the majority of urban residents. Seventy percent of households in urban counties still lack access to fiber from AT&T because the company has made fiber available to only 14.7 million households out of 48.4 million total households in these counties.”

The report also said there were many areas in AT&T’s footprint where it doesn’t offer the Federal Communications Commission’s “broadband” definition of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

“For 28% of the households in its network footprint, AT&T’s internet service does not meet the FCC’s 25/3 Mbps benchmark to be considered broadband,” the report said.  A key recommendation is that “AT&T must upgrade its network in rural communities to meet the FCC’s broadband definition, at least, and renew its efforts to deploy next-generation fiber.”

The report noted that in some areas where AT&T doesn’t provide faster speeds, cable operators, such as Comcast and Charter do.

“Even where that access is available from another provider­—typically a cable provider—consumers are deprived of the benefits of competition in price, choice and service quality,” the report said.

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AT&T is counting on fiber for both residential and commercial services, including AT&T TV. In order to win over customers from cable operators, AT&T has paired its 1-Gig service with AT&T TV.

Regarding DSL, the report states: “AT&T’s poor maintenance of its DSL networks, with limited capacity for new connections, results in would-be new customers in some areas being denied service entirely or told they can only subscribe to fixed wireless service (a 4G wireless connection for home use, designed for rural areas).”

As expected, AT&T refuted the claims made in the CWA/NDIA report in a statement to FierceTelecom and Broadband World News on Monday afternoon.

“Our investment decisions are based on the capacity needs of our network and demand for our services. We do not ‘redline’ internet access and any suggestion that we do is wrong.  We have invested more in the United States over the past 5 years (2015-2019) than any other public company. We have spent more than $125 billion in our U.S. wireless and wireline networks, including capital investments and acquisition of wireless spectrum and operations. Our 5G network provides high-speed internet access nationwide, our fiber network serves more 18 million customer locations and we continue to invest to expand both networks.”

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New Fiber Optics Market Report:

Finally, a new report by Technavio forecasts that the global fiber optics market size will grow by USD 2.44 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of almost 5% throughout the forecast period.

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Fiber Optics Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

Image Credit:  Technavio

The increase in the number of FTTH homes and subscribers is the key factor driving the market growth. A higher number of customers are opting for fiber optic connections to leverage broadband services. This reduces the requirements for customer premises equipment (CPE) and distribution point unit (DPU).

References:

https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r32848850-DSL-is-officially-grandfathered-Get-orders-in-BEFORE-October

https://cwa-union.org/news/releases/new-reports-detail-how-telecoms-companies-att-are-failing-provide-broadband-and-good

https://cwa-union.org/sites/default/files/20201005attdigitalredlining.pdf

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/cwa-calls-out-at-t-s-lack-fiber-its-dsl-footprint

http://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=764417

AT&T CEO: Fiber, Stories and (Video) Content to drive future revenues and growth

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201005005444/en/

 

 

Arthur D Little: 10 countries provide >= 95% FTTH coverage; Gigabit Fiber driving take-up of new apps and services

At least 10 countries worldwide now provide fiber to at least 95 percent of homes, according to the latest data from research firm Arthur D. Little (ADL) titledThe race to gigabit fiber.” 
The ADL report says that deployment of applications and services provisioned by underlying gigabit broadband is enabling people, machines, and applications to collaborate effectively and intelligently in order to enhance quality of life, improve our mobility, grow our economies and empower our decision-making.  For example, the PyeongChang Olympics 2018 and FIFA World Cup 2018 for the first time saw large scale availability of 4K live sports content broadcast in more than 30+ countries.

Gigabit broadband can be delivered using cable DOCSIS, fiber or other 5G-based technologies. This ADL report focuses on the rollout, take-up and services delivered with fiber -based gigabit broadband networks. ADL especially considers the developments made in fiber take-up and gigabit services enabled by fiber. See the previous edition of this study, “Race to gigabit fiber: Telecom incumbents pick up pace”4 for further details on which markets are taking the lead on fiber rollout and the deployment models used for it.

The report reveals that global fiber coverage in the benchmarked countries has soared from 39 percent in 2012 to 66 percent in 2020, including the 10-plus markets with almost ubiquitous fiber.  Here are a few report excerpts:
Non-telecom entities such as energy companies, railway operators and local municipalities are also entering the market, with large fiber rollout plans in fiber-lagging countries such as Italy, Germany and Austria, to bridge the gigabit broadband gap.
With 5G deployment models crystallizing, operators are also considering 5G-based technologies to complement high-cost,
last-mile fiber access, especially in rural areas.
While there were big improvements in fiber rollout from 2012 to 2017, take-up was still lagging behind, even though several markets invested large amounts of capex into nationwide fiber. However, we now see take-up rapidly improving, driven by both effective migration of legacy customers to fiber and competition driving demand for higher-speed broadband adoption at home.

As the fiber coverage and take-up rates continue to grow, incumbents are increasingly announcing plans to switch off and dismantle their legacy copper networks. Singtel in Singapore turned off its copper network in 2018 and migrated its copper and cable subscribers to fiber, allowing the incumbent Singtel and cable company StarHub to switch off their copper and cable networks. Another example is JT Global in Jersey, which already migrated its entire fixed broadband customer base to fiber and will switch off the copper infrastructure in 2020. Operators in at least three other countries plan to completely migrate their customer base to fiber in the next four to five years (see Figure 4 below).

However, before decommissioning their legacy networks, telcos will need to overcome regulatory and other obstacles, such as providing an alternative to existing regulatory wholesale products and replacing some copper-specific B2B use cases with other technologies. With legacy network switch off, incumbents hope to achieve cost efficiencies especially in network operations. In recent projects, we estimate that fiber networks have up to a 15x lower fault rate and use up to 85 percent less energy compared to legacy copper-based networks.

Fiber is undoubtedly an advanced fixed broadband technology that can efficiently deliver multi-gigabit speeds to a large volume of customers in real-life conditions, especially in dense urban areas. Offering 1 Gbps plans has become the norm in the leading Asian fiber markets such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, opening the way for multi-gigabit tariffs.

It has been more than five years since the first 10 Gbps plans were initially introduced in the US, Singapore, Hong Kong and Norway (see Figure 5. below). As of September 2020, we are not aware of any faster commercially available plan for the residential segment. Availability of multi-gigabit plans is still limited to a handful of markets and approximately 10-15 ISPs. However, just in the first half of 2020, there have been at least three ISPs that launched multi-gigabit offers: Zzoomm in the UK, Orange in France and Chorus in New Zealand.

 Incumbent operator led deployments continue to play the leading role in fiber deployment today. However, we believe the importance of open access fiber providers will gain in significance, especially in important markets such as Italy, Germany, UK and Saudi Arabia, among others. Large-scale investment by non-telco entities such as energy companies and infrastructure funds, among others, will continue to expand fiber coverage in these markets. (For further details on open access fiber developments, please refer to our other report on this topic.)

An increasing number of incumbents acknowledge the inevitability of switching off and dismantling their legacy copper networks as fiber coverage becomes ubiquitous, while the cost economics of maintaining a fiber network are far superior to maintaining a legacy fixed network. Initiatives for legacy network switch off have been announced in multiple markets, and we expect to see results in larger markets such as Spain, France or Sweden soon. We also see regulators opening up to the idea that fiber-based solutions can eventually replace regulated legacy network–based products, giving a further impetus to open access fiber rollout in some regions.

Gigabit tariffs have become commonplace in developed fiber markets (mostly in Asia) and are increasingly being offered to customers worldwide. However, multi-gigabit speeds are still available only in a handful of markets. Salt in Switzerland is an example of a provider that uses its aggressively priced multigigabit offer to differentiate and disrupt the fiber market and not only as a marketing tool. We expect that, with new fiber rollouts and increasing competition on the broadband markets, the number of multi-gigabit offerings will continue to grow.

Note:  This report, “The race to gigabit fiber,” is the 2020 update to Arthur D. Little’s Global FTTH study, published in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018.

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References:

Broadband Forum and LAN Laboratory Expand Certification Program to include XGS-PON

As demand for fiber networks continues to grow, the Broadband Forum has expanded its  BBF.247 Optical Network Unit (ONU) Certification Program to include XGS-PON.

This latest update extends the program to a variety of key features needed by operators deploying XGS-PON networks. The certification is just one piece of Broadband Forum’s vision to provide network operators with the tools, open specifications, and open source references necessary to bring new services and technologies to their customers more rapidly. Certified ONU products can be deployed quickly, with improved interoperability to existing Optical Line Terminal (OLT) equipment already deployed. Similarly, certified ONU products will also work directly with newer Broadband Forum specifications, including the forthcoming virtual OMCI specifications and software defined access networks.

The XGS-PON extensions add to the BBF.247 G-PON initiative – which has now certified nearly 100 products since its launch in 2011. The new test plan will see ONUs undergo rigorous testing at Broadband Forum’s official certification program test laboratory Laboratoire des Applications Numeriques (LAN Laboratory), using MT2’s ONU testing solution. The work will confirm conformance to the latest PON ITU-T standards, providing network operators with assurance that they can deliver efficient networks and a high-quality customer experience. New additions to the technology are also now tested, including extended OMCI messages format, Enhanced Unicast & Multicast Operations, and Capacity Tests & Performance Monitoring. This increases the number of certification test cases by more than 50% compared to the previous version.

Eight products, including single or multi-user port ONUs/L2 and Residential Gateways from Altice Labs, CommScope, Huawei, Humax, KAONMEDIA, Sagemcom, Sercomm and ZTE have already been certified under the new BBF.247 certification program.

“The introduction of XGS-PON certification by Broadband Forum is a significant and positive step for the PON ecosystem as interoperability will encourage growth,” said Jaeseok Kim, Head of Infra Planning at SK Broadband. “This will become increasingly important as more operators look to upgrade existing network to meet consumer demand for Gigabit + speeds.”

Claudio Mathys, Product Manager Wireline Access Networks at Swisscom (Schweiz) AG, added: “Establishing interoperability and testing requirements are key elements in a liberated market. The introduction of XGS-PON from Swisscom as a technology leader – in conjunction with the certification and testing program from Broadband Forum – will significantly enhance the confidence from our competitors for CPE certification as based on industry standards and independent references. Achieving Broadband Forum certification is the entry ticket for connectivity to our network. We will definitely avoid the painful experience made with xDSL interoperability/complexity – right from the beginning.”

Hugues Le Bras, Network Engineer in Fixed Access Networks at Orange, said: “The role of interoperability and standards has only become more important as broadband grows in popularity and operators upgrade their networks to meet consumer demand. Orange already requests BBF.247 certification for each ONU deployed on the field. However, this expansion of Broadband Forum’s certification program will give us confidence when deploying next-generation technology that will enable the future era of connectivity. The latest additions to the certification also bring new features, such as flexibility and monitoring, which are essential for Orange throughout the ONU life.”

A future XGS-PON interoperability test event will take place at LAN Laboratory, in Tauxigny, France, from October 5 to 9, 2020, allowing vendors worldwide to exercise their OLT or Optical Network Terminal (ONT) solutions against each other. The event will give all equipment vendors the opportunity to improve the interoperability of their products by testing them against the other solutions presented at the event.

“Our existing G-PON certification has made a significant impact on ensuring products meet standards, and this latest expansion of the program will give operators the confidence to roll out mass XGS-PON deployments,” said Robin Mersh, CEO at Broadband Forum. “We now want to instill this same assurance in the industry for upcoming ITU PON technology, including XGS-PON and NG-PON2. XGS-PON is a major step in network evolution, supporting the expansion of 5G and through BBF.247 certification, we can ensure network interoperability.”

Thierry Doligez, Director of LAN Laboratory, said: “Both operators and vendors increasingly recognize the importance of certification in order to speed up deployment and we are proud to partner with Broadband Forum on this extension of its G-PON certification program. As operators move to upgrade their networks to meet increasing consumer demand, the new testing will make sure they are investing in trusted products which will guarantee a certain level of service. ONU manufacturers will also benefit from this substantial program update as it will give them the chance to prove their conformance against enhanced features.”

For more information or to actively get involved with Broadband Forum’s work on higher speed PON technologies, visit: www.broadband-forum.org.

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BBF.247 certification program is open to all GPON, XG-PON and XGS-PON ONU products with Ethernet Interfaces and is based on the Broadband Forum’s TP-247/IR-247 test plan. It tests conformance to TR-156 and TR-280 using OMCI as defined in the ITU G.988, which are the most critical standards to interoperable implementations.
The Broadband Forum has reviewed and authorized the following independent testing agency to administer the approved BBF.247 tests and assess eligibility of products for the Broadband Forum Certification. For more information or to schedule testing, please contact the laboratory directly:

    • Since 2009, the BBF has collaborated with FSAN (Full Service Access Network) on interoperability testing plugfests on the physical, TC and upper layers for GPON, with FSAN leading on the first two and BBF on the last.

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About Broadband Forum

Broadband Forum is the communications industry’s leading organization focused on accelerating broadband innovation, standards, and ecosystem development. Our members’ passion – delivering on the promise of broadband by enabling smarter and faster broadband networks and a thriving broadband ecosystem.

A non-profit industry organization composed of the industry’s leading broadband operators, vendors, and thought leaders, our work to date has been the foundation for broadband’s global proliferation and innovation. For example, the Forum’s flagship TR-069 CPE WAN Management Protocol has nearly 1 billion installations worldwide.

Broadband Forum working groups collaborate to define best practices for global networks, enable new revenue-generating service and content delivery, establish technology migration strategies, and engineer critical device, service & development management tools in the home and business IP networking infrastructure. We develop multi-service broadband packet networking specifications addressing architecture, device and service management, software data models, interoperability and certification in the broadband market.

Our free technical reports and white papers can be found at https://www.broadband-forum.org/

About Laboratoire des Applications Numeriques (LAN Laboratory)

The Laboratoire des Applications Numeriques (LAN) is a unique independent laboratory specialized in conformance, interoperability and coexistence tests of devices deployed by telecom operators in the access and home networks (DSL, G-PON, Broadband-PLC, …), by DSOs in Smartgrids networks using powerline communications (G3-PLC), and by the industry in video security networks (E&PoC). LAN also offers on-demand test services dedicated to PON network operators, addressing their needs in terms of pre-deployment qualification tests for each specific network they operate. LAN is one of the Broadband Forum’s Approved Test Laboratory (ATL), the unique one accredited by the Broadband Forum to conduct the worldwide recognized BBF.247 certification tests for G-PON, XG-PON and XGS-PON terminals.

For more information on Laboratoire des Applications Numeriques, please go to www.lanpark.eu, follow @Laboratoire_LAN on Twitter, or send an Email to contact@lanpark.eu.

About MT2

MT2 leads the industry in FTTH G-PON and XGS-PON network test, offering troubleshoot, monitoring deep analysis of products, and ‘single-click’ automated test suite solutions. MT2’s analyzers and OLT emulators have the unique powerful features to allow the user to simply ‘software-select’, and switch between GPON, XG-PON, XGS-PON or NG-PON2, all within the same single system. MT2 ensures the complicated protocols and subscriber internet access traffic complies with every spec, automatically, using a powerful and intuitive user interface, high precision and innovative design. MT2 actively contributes to the Broadband Forum activity, as a test-tool vendor, and developed its FTTH automated test suites for functionality and performance testing, covering BBF.247, TR-309 and TR-255, critical to ensure system quality and full validation of any operator’s FFTH network.

For more information on MT2, please go to www.mt2.fr, follow MT2ftth on LinkedIn, or send an Email to mt2@mt2.fr

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References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200608005273/en/Broadband-Forum-LAN-Laboratory-Expand-Certification-XGS-PON

BBF.247 GPON ONU Certification