Worldwide 5G network infrastructure revenue is on pace to grow 39% to total $19.1 billion in 2021, up from $13.7 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc.
Communications service providers (CSPs) in mature markets accelerated 5G development in 2020 and 2021 with 5G representing 39% of total wireless infrastructure revenue this year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic spiked demand for optimized and ultrafast broadband connectivity to support work-from-home and bandwidth-hungry applications, such as streaming video, online gaming and social media applications,” said Michael Porowski, senior principal research analyst at Gartner.
5G is the fastest growing segment in the wireless network infrastructure market (see Table 1). Of the segments that comprise wireless infrastructure in this forecast, the only significant opportunity for investment growth is in 5G. Investment in legacy wireless generations is rapidly deteriorating across all regions and spending on non-5G small cells is poised to decline as CSPs move to 5G small cells.
Table 1: Wireless Network Infrastructure Revenue Forecast, Worldwide (Millions of U.S. Dollars)
|Segment||2020 Revenue||2021 Revenue||2022 Revenue|
|LTE and 4G||17,127.8||14,569.1||12,114.0|
|3G and 2G||3,159.6||1,948.2||1,095.2|
|Small Cells Non-5G||6,588.5||7,117.9||7,113.9|
Source: Gartner (August 2021)
Regionally, CSPs in North America are set to grow 5G revenue from $2.9 billion in 2020 to $4.3 billion in 2021, due, in part, to increased adoption of dynamic spectrum sharing and millimeter wave base stations. In Western Europe, CSPs will prioritize on licensing spectrum, modernizing mobile core infrastructure and navigating regulatory processes with 5G revenue expected to increase from $794 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion in 2021.
Greater China is expected to maintain the No.1 global position in global 5G revenue reaching $9.1 billion in 2021, up from $7.4 billion in 2020. With China’s government funding 5G development for the three state owned carriers, that’s no surprise.
The big beneficiaries of China’s 5G infrastructure spending will be its domestic equipment makers, Huawei, ZTE, and (state owned) Datang Telecom. Despite clamoring for Sweden to permit Huawei 5G equipment to be deployed, Ericsson only received 3% of a joint 5G radio contracts from China Telecom, China Unicom and 2% from China Mobile, according to Reuters. Nokia, which was expected to take away Ericsson’s market share in China, did not receive any share, according to a tender document published by the Chinese companies.
In a way that’s a win for the Swedish vendor – and a brief share price hike backs up that statement – which won just 2% of an earlier deal from China Mobile. But if they want to secure their share of the multiple billions of dollars of global 5G infrastructure revenues forecast by Gartner, the likes of Ericsson and Nokia will need to keep winning contracts in their home markets.
5G Coverage in Tier-1 Cities Will Reach 60% in 2024:
While 10% of CSPs in 2020 provided commercialized 5G services, which could achieve multiregional availability, Gartner predicts that this number will increase to 60% by 2024, which is a similar rate of adoption for 4G- LTE in the past.
“Business and customer demand is an influencing factor in this growth. As consumers return to the office, they will continue to upgrade or switch to gigabit fiber to the home (FTTH) service as connectivity has become an essential remote work service,” said Porowski. “Users will also increasingly scrutinize CSPs for both office and remote work needs.”
This rapid shift in customer behavior is driving growth in the global passive optical network (PON) market as a preferred technology. The 10-Gigabit-capable symmetric-PON (XGS-PON) is not a new technology and with the price difference with other technologies narrowing, CSPs are willing to invest in XGS-PON to differentiate themselves in customer experience and network quality. Gartner estimates that by 2025, 60% of Tier-1 CSPs will adopt XGS-PON technology at large-scale to deliver ultrafast broadband services to residential and business users, up from less than 30% in 2020.
Gartner clients can learn more in the reports “Forecast Analysis: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology, Worldwide” and “Forecast: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology, Worldwide, 2019-2025, 2Q21 Update.”
While Gartner did not split out small cells’ contribution to the overall 5G infrastructure segment, evidence thus far suggests the market is progressing more slowly than many had once believed.
Last month, Crown Castle increased its guidance for the second time this year due to a strong cell towers market, but halved the number of small cells it expects to deploy in 2021 to 5,000. The company noted that wireless network operators have focused on tower-based 5G rollouts at the expense of small cells.
Telefonica España will begin the commercial deployment of a 10 Gbps fiber broadband network using XGS-PON technology in Spain in the first half of 2022, reports website bandaancha.eu.
The gradual rollout is part of Telefonica’s ‘Banda Ancha Abierta‘ (Open Broadband) project to install an efficient, open, scalable and virtualized network model that will facilitate fixed-mobile convergence (fixed access with mobile backhaul), Multi-access Edge Computing capabilities ( MEC), and the deployment of third-party applications.
Telefónica’s FTTH network in Spain passes 26.1 million homes as of June 2021, for which 4,726,700 clients are served through the Movistar and O2 brands. In addition, there are 2,801,700 clients of other operators served through indirect fiber optics.
The introduction of XGS-PON will introduce two new lambdas or wavelengths on the existing GPON fiber infrastructure. The same fiber cable will carry wavelengths corresponding to GPON and in parallel new colors of the laser for XGS-PON so that the two technologies do not interfere with each other.
XGS-PON raises the available throughput for an entire fiber branch to 10 Gbps downstream and 10 Gbps upstream for up to 64 client endpoints. That will permit Telefonica to commercialize speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps symmetric and, in the medium term, up to 10 Gbps.
XGS-PON requires new customer premises equipment. Telefónica customers have been waiting for years for the new XHGU router that the operator announced in 2018 and that is compatible with XG-PON, in addition to bringing high-penetration WiFi 6.
With the arrival of XGS-PON, Movistar will begin to distribute this new router or temporarily provide an ONT XGS-PON.
In a related story, DELTA Fiber has attracted 2 billion euros to back a planned roll-out of XGS-PON technology throughout the Netherlands. The 10G PON deployment will expand DELTA Fiber’s network to 2 million fiber connections in 2025. It currently expects to reach 1 million connections by the end of this year.
The company expects to begin rolling out XGS-PON this September. It will use the technology exclusively in its future builds with an eye toward making gigabit broadband widely available.
DELTA Fiber also said it plans to deploy 25G PON in the future. Along these lines, the company recently announced a partnership with Proximus of Belgium to deploy fiber to the home networks in Flanders. Proximus has already adopted 25G PON technology.
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:
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 Proximus, said: “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.
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by Shrihari Pandit
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.
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.
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.
OLT =Optical Line Termination ONT =Optical Network Termination
NGPON2 has three key advantages for operators:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
The global passive optical network (PON) market is on track to grow to over $7 billion by 2022, driven by adoption of next-generation PON technologies such as 10Gbps EPON, Dell’Oro predicts in a new report. The market is on track to grow at a five-year CAGR of nearly 40% from 2017 to 2022, the research firm said in a press release.
“Where PON technologies are used for residential broadband services, 2.5 Gbps GPON will remain as the dominant technology due to its lower price and sufficient speeds. However, for a number of growing use cases such as business services and mobile backhaul, next-generation PON technologies have capacities and capabilities that current generation technologies lack,” Dell’Oro senior analyst Alam Tamboli explained.
He said 10 Gbps EPON is already seeing strong traction across China, noting that current generation PON has previously been widely deployed across the market.
“10 Gbps EPON has already begun shipping strongly in China where current generation PON is widely deployed. Shipments of XGS-PON and NG-PON2 remain small for now, but we anticipate that XGS-PON will grow more rapidly. XGS-PON and its 10 Gbps symmetric bandwidth should meet operators’ needs for business services and mobile backhaul,” Tamboli added.
Other next-generation PON technologies set to drive the strong growth for the segment include XGS-PON and NG-PON2.
About the Report
The Dell’Oro Group Broadband Access 5-Year Forecast Report provides a complete overview of the Broadband Access market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, and port/unit shipments for Cable, DSL, and PON equipment. Network infrastructure equipment includes Cable Modem Termination Systems (CMTS), Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers ([DSLAMs] by technology ADSL, ADSL2+, G.SHDSL, VDSL, GFAST), and PON Optical Line Terminals (OLTs). Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) technology reflects Voice-over-IP (VoIP) or data-only. To purchase this report, please call Daisy Kwok at +1.650.622.9400 x227 or email Daisy@DellOro.com.