F5G: Huawei's Bid to Dominate Optical Access

Not content with dominating 5G, Huawei is now aiming to shape the development of optical access tech.

It says the two key emerging technologies for fixed-line broadband are 10GPON, the fiber access technology that is starting to get traction, and WiFi 6, the newly agreed WiFi standard.

To advance its cause, it has come up with a concept it dubs "F5G."

In this formulation, fixed-line technology, like mobile, is now in its fourth generation, marked by 100Mbit/s GPON networking and 4K and UHD services.

The new fifth generation will feature full-fiber networks and ultra-high bandwidth, supporting services such as cloud VR.

The telecom industry may not be ready for yet another acronym, and Huawei has yet to sign up any industry partners to the cause, but it is a sign that the contest for next-generation broadband tech is underway.

Research firm Dell'Oro agrees that 10G EPON and XGS-PON are now working up a head of steam, although they are some way from being the dominant products.

Kevin Huang, vice president and chief marketing officer of Huawei's transmission and access product line, says the next five years will be the "golden years" for 10G technologies.

Huang says that with households already connecting on average more than three devices per person, WiFi is now also an essential part of broadband.

One of the biggest operator complaints is the instability of the home broadband service, he said.

It is difficult for operators to pinpoint network issues or control the home WiFi experience.

Huawei is offering operators a WiFi control platform that gives visibility into real-time connection status and the ability to remotely identify and fix issues.

Huang says the 10G-WiFi 6 combination can also be deployed for enterprise customers with services such as gigabit private line or all-optical campus.

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Besides promulgating its F5G idea, Huawei also has ambitions for the next optical technology, 50GPON.

"We're working with upstream and downstream partners, including operators in China and other countries, to push for the 50GPON standard in ITU-T," Huang says.

ITU-T took on 50GPON in February 2018 and, according to Huawei, will finalize the standard some time next year.

Huawei showed off a 50GPON prototype at MWC in March this year that it says delivers 50 Gbit/s downstream and 25–50 Gbit/s upstream over a single wavelength.

It also cut upstream latency delay "from the millisecond level down to the microsecond level."

Huang said the prototype consists mostly of Huawei's own technologies plus optical components from partners.

He said he couldn't disclose the names of external suppliers.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

Duh! 10/14/2019 | 2:15:04 PM
"Dominate"? May I point out that Adtran, Calix, Nokia and ZTE all are leading vendors with excellent technology? Outside the domestic China and "Belt and Road" markets, I expect robust competition in 10G (x)PON, not a single dominant competitor. 

I also observe that Huawei has turned against NG-PON2. The jury is still out. It all turns on whether Verizon and a handful of other operators can drive enough volume to reduce the cost of the tunable ONT optics. I think that Verizon's NG-PON2 based IEN is a brilliant strategic architecture, and that other fixed operators would do well to follow.

As far as WiFi 6... it's great stuff. It's also headed toward commodity status and system-level standardization. It's going to be a hard technology to differentiate upon.

-- Dan Grossman
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