50G PON’s Major Role in Driving Society Forward
Julie has over 30 years of experience in the communications components, equipment, and software industry. She is responsible for Omdia’s coverage of the fixed broadband access industry, including components, equipment, and software, focusing on PON, xDSL/Gfast, and cable. Julie closely follows technology developments and subsequent impacts on the vendor ecosystem.
This piece of research was commissioned by Huawei.
Optical networking is the foundation for high-speed, reliable, and efficient connectivity, supporting residential, enterprise, and smart city services. A key component to optical networking is fiber-based access, namely Passive Optical Networking (PON). PON solutions have been widely deployed across the world, bringing fiber into a wide range of premises, enabling 1G and beyond, and symmetrical and low-latency services. PON is a fiber-efficient and low-power technology. In addition, PON upgrades preserve previous investments, thereby supporting coexistence with earlier technology generations.
While 10G PON upgrades are well underway today, CSPs are looking to the next major step, namely 50G PON.
Drivers for 50G PON
The drivers for bandwidth are relentless, encompassing applications to and throughout homes, SMEs (small-medium enterprises), and smart cities. In addition, consumer, enterprise, and smart city applications require low-latency and jitter, alongside higher service consistency and reliability. Ultra low-latency and jitter are pushing fiber closer to the user, such as FTTR (fiber-to-the-room), fiber-to-the-desk, and fiber-to-the traffic and parking sensors in home, SME, and smart city scenarios, respectively.
Today, 1G FTTH has become a standard offering, and CSPs are developing multi-gig residential strategies.
SMEs are looking at 5G, 10G and beyond. Smart city applications require a wide-range of bandwidth with ultra-low latency to support critical city services. Figure 1 provides a summary of key bandwidth and low-latency drivers in the home, SME, and smart city scenarios.
Figure 1: Overview of key bandwidth and low-latency and jitter drivers
In addition to bandwidth and low-latency, broadband connectivity must be reliable and secure. Reliability and security are key to numerous applications and services:
- Residential smart home applications, such as professional monitorning services, are forecast to grow from US$9.2bn in 2020 to over US$23.3bn in 2026.
- Reliable connectivity is crucial for business applications according to the WBBA 2021 Thought Leadership Survey. The ability to create meaningful customer experiences will hinge largely on connectivity, with a more reliable Internet to meet customer experiences and to stay competitive, according to 56% of the respondents.
- The growth in infrastructure and network security reflects its importance for home, SME, and smart city scenarios. Worldwide network security appliance and software revenues are forecast to reach US$14.7bn in 2026.
Bandwdith demand, along with low-latency and jitter, reliability, and security, are major drivers for next-generation PON solutions, moving from 10G to higher speeds.
PON’s power will extend to 50G and eventually beyond
PON is well-designed and widely deployed
PON’s success as the widely accepted and deployed access technology can be measured in many ways, including:
- Shipments of 94 million PON OLT ports and over 1.1 billion ONT/ONU ports since 2008.
- Revenues for PON equipment are forecast to exceed US$18.8bn in 2027, compared to US$8.9bn in 2021.
- The strong and growing ecosystem, including optical sub-component and BOSA/ transceiver vendors, PON MAC ASIC and equipment vendors, along with layer 0 and test/measurement suppliers.
- The involvement of leading standards and industry organizations, which includes ITU-FSAN, IEEE, ETSI, Broadband Forum, and WBBA (World Broadband Association).
PON’s success is based on its efficient point-to-multipoint topology, using less fiber than a point-to-point topology, which requires a dedicated fiber to each and every user or device. Fiber efficiency is a key advantage. PON also saves optics costs as the OLT (network-side equipment) supports multiple customers or endpoints, ranging from low-split ratios of 8, for example, to much higher-split ratios of 64 or even 128.
PON is power efficient since the connection between the network-side and the customer premise or endpoint is passive: the “P” in PON stands for passive. Energy efficiency is gaining in importance as vendors, operators, and governments adopt green and sustainability objectives.
Furthermore, PON technology and equipment solutions contain features that separate, encrypt, and secure data.
PON is upgradeable to 50G and beyond
PON technologies are designed to preserve investment in the underlying capital intensive ODN, while enabling bandwidth upgrades throughout the network. Currently, many CSPs are upgrading their networks, adding 10G PON solutions on the network-side. 10G GPON OLTs are dominating shipments: They represented 61% of total GPON OLT shipments in 2Q22, compared to 44% in 2Q21 and 30% in 2Q20.
As 10G PON gains momentum, CSPs want assurances that beyond-10G roadmap exists. These assurances include 50G PON and beyond. 50G PON has been standardized by ITU-FSAN and pilots are expected to begin in late 2023. The 50G PON ecosystem is developing as component, equipment, and test and measurement companies are bringing their solutions to market. 50G PON is an important step for CSPs, enabling them to support more bandwidth to more customers, efficiently and economically.
50G PON is a key component to F5G
ETSI’s F5G initiative focuses on fifth-generation fixed networking, addressing:
- Full-fiber connection
- Enhanced broadband
- Guaranteed reliable experience
F5G’s goals are to provide 10 times the bandwidth, 10 times denser fiber connections, and 10 times better reliability and latency. According to ETSI, F5G enables new opportunities by applying fiber technology to a wide range of scenarios, subscribers, and applications.
50G PON plays a key role in supporting F5G, enabling:
- Large and sustainable bandwidth
- Reliability and low-latency
- Fiber-to-the machine
- Networking slicing
- Sensing for optimized operations & management, along with AI
- Low power
- Reshaping industry and business practices
CSPs should evlaute 50G PON and track its development as pilots begin in 2023. They should meet with vendors to discuss 50G PON equipment and solution roadmaps along with initial implementation plans.
In parallel, CSPs need to develop bandwidth forecast use cases for a wide range of customer-types and applications. 50G PON has the ability to become the converged-access network technology, supporting residential, enterprise, and smart city subscribers and applications. CSPs should study the benefits of a converged-access network based on 50G PON. The analysis must encompass PON’s advantages compared to other technologies, such as point-to-point Active Ethernet. PON’s ability to support multiple subscriber and application types extends PON’s fiber efficiencies and energy savings. This supports faster RoI (return on investment) for CSPs, a key financial goal.
50G PON is an enabler for the next generation of applications that bring benefits to society.
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.