Friday 3rd December 2021

Strategy Analytics report: technology roadmap for passive optical networks

Published on October 19th, 2021

Strategy Analytics has road mapped the future of Passive Optical Networks (PONs). The Strategy Analytics Service Provider Strategies (SPS) service report, Technology Roadmap for Passive Optical Networks: The Next Step is 50G PON observes the progress of 4th Generation (10 Gbps) PONs, projects that the 5th Generation (50 Gbps) PON will be deployed in volume by 2026, and looks further forward to the 6th Generation by 2033.

In access networks, PONs have numerous capex, opex and practical advantages over point-to-point and active star architectures. As a result, most of the world’s Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services are provided over PONs.

Each generation of PON has brought increases in data rate. Higher speeds have been necessary to keep up with growing household traffic, and for non-consumer applications, especially 5G wireless mid/backhaul and business/enterprise. The industry is in transition from 3rd Generation PON (1-2.5 Gbps downstream, including GPON and GEPON) to 4th Generation PON (10G PON, including XG-PON, XGS-PON, 10G EPON, and NG-PON2).

Globally, operator announcements of new FTTP deployments overwhelmingly use XGS-PON. XGS-PON is nearing price parity with 3rd generation PON, and so-called combo ports help operators manage co-existence.

A new report by Strategy Analytics addresses a key question: how does the technology roadmap play out from the present? The answer to this question is critical for investment planning, both by operators and vendors.

According to Strategy Analytics senior analyst Dan Grossman, the author of the report, “10G PONs will more than meet the needs of residential customers for the foreseeable future, but operators are looking to PON for enterprise services and wireless x-haul. Based on historical trends, standards committee agreements, vendor interviews and the attitudes of key operators, we think that the mainstream next generation PON will have a line rate of 50 Gbps downstream and 25 Gbps upstream, per the recently approved ITU-T G.2984.x-series Recommendations.

It will emerge in 2023 and be in widespread deployment by 2026. The generation after that will be at 100, 200 or even 400 Gbps, and will reach widespread deployment by 2033.” He adds, “Operators will deploy other flavors of PON, such as a 25 Gbps symmetrical variant, various wavelength division multiplexing schemes and even some 6th generation PONs. We think that these are outside the mainstream and will have limited effect on the PON equipment market.”

According to service director Phil Kendall, “XGS-PON has reached sufficient maturity that it can be recommended for all greenfield deployments, technology refresh cycles, new services and reinforcement. 50G asymmetric PON should be considered in operators’ 5-year planning cycles. Operators should now be evaluating use cases and tracking their PON vendors’ progress toward a 50G PON solution.”

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