PON evolution and future FTTH market prediction: standards

“We expect continued growth from both the Cable and PON markets through 2016, strong demand for PON will continue to come from Service Providers in China and other countries.”

PON standards Development

Contributors: José Salgado, Rong Zhao, Nuno Monteiro, and Pauline Rigby

  The evolution of fibre to the home (FTTH) technology is a key issue for the telecom industry. Operators need to consider today which optical access platform will allow them to adapt most cost-effectively and intelligently as future bandwidth demand and applications evolve. And, as the massive deployment of FTTH networks continues worldwide, operators expect more from FTTH-based technologies. They expect next-generation technologies to enhance bandwidth and service support capabilities while supporting coexistence with their existing equipment and outside plant.

Till today, PON has been widely deployed around the world. In Europe, early adopters and smaller operators have installed point-to-point Ethernet networks, but GPON is rapidly becoming the preferred choice among major operators.

  The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) developed the Ethernet in the First Mile (IEEE 802.3ah 2004) family of standards, which includes EPON. The 10-Gbps version, 10G-EPON, was ratified in 2009, as IEEE 802.3av. The standard supports two configurations: asymmetric, operating at 10 Gbps in the downstream (provider to customer) direction and 1 Gbps upstream (consumer to provider); and symmetric, operating at 10 Gbps in both directions.

  Meanwhile, the special interest group Full Service Access Network (FSAN) has been leading GPON technology development, passing the work to the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) when it the technical requirements are stable and ready for standardization.

GPON is already the dominant technology choice in North America. Asia saw significant EPON deployments in Japan and South Korea, and China etc.

  In 2006, FSAN/ITU-T began to consider the system that would follow GPON. Initially, the focus of this work was to develop additional specifications for the GPON system that would enable a smoother migration to whatever system came later. This work resulted in the G.984.5 recommendation, which refined the spectrum plan for GPON and defined blocking filters in the GPON optical network units (ONTs) to prevent crosstalk from non-GPON wavelengths.

  In 2007, the focus moved towards defining the new system itself. A wide range of technical options were raised as candidates, many of which were quite different in architecture and service profile from GPON. Finally, in 2010, ITU-T Recommendation G.987: 10-Gigabit-capable passive optical network (XG-PON) systems, was defined, based on a TDM-PON architecture.

Optical access standards evolution

Optical access standards evolution

  Since the optical distribution network represents approximately 70% of total investments in FTTH networks, it is crucial that future IEEE and ITU-T standards are backwards compatible, enabling operators to re-use their existing investments.
  Both the IEEE and ITU-T standards allow the coexistence of different generations of PON technology. However, the proposed NG-PON2 standard already offers a clear path to higher capacities, and therefore is expected to better address the needs of operators in the future.  

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