As a network operator, how do you choose a PON standard today that offers a migration path to support your network needs for the foreseeable future?
PON Options and Standards
There are two primary standards for passive optical network (PON) architectures:
- Gigabit PON (GPON) is based on the ITU (International Telecommunication Union). GPON ITU-based standards are the most widely deployed in the world.
- Ethernet PON (EPON) is based on the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
The latest ITU-T PON standards provide five options for network engineers:
- GPON: A gigabit passive optical network (GPON) is a standard for providing last-mile fiber connections to the premises at gigabit speed.
- XG-PON: A higher bandwidth version of GPON with the same capabilities as GPON can co-exist on the same fiber as GPON. XG-PON has been primarily deployed in China.
- XGS-PON: A higher bandwidth, symmetric version of GPON that can co-exist with GPON on the same fiber. Deployment of XGS-PON is rapidly gaining momentum in North America, and 10G PON now outpaces GPON as the technology of choice for FTTH networks.
- NG-PON2: A higher bandwidth version of GPON that enables new capabilities like wavelength mobility and channel bonding. NG-PON2 co-exists well with GPON, XG-PON, and XGS-PON but has been met with limited deployment.
- 50G PON: The latest PON standard to be approved by the ITU, 50G PON will deliver several dedicated 10G services, 5G front haul, and residential services on a single fiber. This standard is in the early stages of development, with both chip and system products not expected until late 2024 or early 2025.
While XGS-PON is the logical next step after GPON, what comes after 10G remains crucial for many operators. This takes on increasing urgency when new technologies are being hyped that sound like the logical next step but don’t have proper support from much of the telecom industry ecosystem. They are merely a distraction to the market.
As a network operator, it is essential that you choose the right path for your network evolution; otherwise, you could end up with high costs and little support from your vendors.
Four Steps To Guide Your PON Journey
- Simplify your network technology and spread-out costs. Introducing higher-speed PON systems (10G PON and above) allows operators to simplify network technology and deliver unified domains between access, transport, edge, and core. It also enables operators to converge all residential, mobile, and business services onto a single network, providing ease of management, increased automation, and reduced network operating costs. Additionally, network infrastructure costs can be spread across all customer segments: residential, SMB, and enterprise.
- Ensure sufficient future bandwidth. Consider potential use cases and bandwidth requirements for your customer segments today and in the future. For example, XGS-PON might suit your current Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi 7 will significantly increase throughput to 30 Gbps. As Wi-Fi 7 devices become commercially and widely adopted by the end of this decade, only 50G PON will offer bandwidth sufficient to support the aggregation of this service. Another example is support for private network committed information rate services (dedicated, SLA-based bandwidth). If BSPs want to offer these services on the same PON as others, only 50G will provide sufficient bandwidth to guarantee it.
- Stick to industry standards. It is essential to remember that the telecommunications industry prefers to work with standards. This benefits everyone, whether choosing optical components or reducing costs with volume deployments.
- Migration plan considerations. Though cost will always play a role in decision-making, network operators should be cautious in their migration plans. When considering interim options, choose an approach that ensures you won’t have to implement multiple network upgrades over the next few years.
Beyond 10G—Your Future FTTx Network
Here is the reality: XGS-PON will enable a range of multi-gigabit services that will meet the needs of your subscribers for a decade or more. The next logical upgrade cycle will be the introduction of 10G/50G PON combo cards which isn’t expected until the middle of this decade at the earliest.
As you consider the future of your FTTx network beyond 10G, keep these factors in mind:
- The subscriber and operational drivers for deploying a beyond 10G network.
- 50G PON is an approved ITU-T standard.
- A majority of the PON ecosystem embraces 50G PON.
- 50G PON leverages the GPON and XGS lineage.
- 50G PON will offer a variety of symmetrical and asymmetrical options.
- There is a large 50G PON ecosystem in development.
- There is significant operator interest in 50G PON, which will drive volume deployments.
To learn more, check out our recent white paper, “The New Era of FTTx.”