BBWF: AlcaLu Shows Off 10GPON

PARIS -- Broadband World Forum Europe -- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) kicked off its week of broadband news here in Paris with a demonstration of its next-generation access technology and management interface specifications that will enhance interoperability between its central office GPON OLT (optical line terminal) equipment and ONT (optical network terminal) products from third-party vendors. (See BBWF Preview: GPON a Go-Go! and Looking for Broadband's Missing Link at BBWF.)

The next-gen technology demo involves a 10GPON (also known as 10G GPON) prototype, which has been installed at AlcaLu's executive briefing center in Paris. That means any interested party will need to leave the confines of the CNIT center in Paris, where the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) show is housed, to check out the demonstration.

AlcaLu will show how 10GPON connections can be used to backhaul time-sensitive traffic, notably video streams, from LTE (Long-Term Evolution) customers. The idea behind the demo is to show that: AlcaLu is prepared for the heavy demands that LTE traffic will put on carrier networks; that the vendor's 10GPON developments are well advanced; and that 10GPON and GPON can coexist on the same infrastructure, as GPON and 10GPON line cards can be housed in the same AlcaLu 7342 ISAM FTTU chassis in a carrier's central office.

This coexistence is "important, because it shows there is a smooth migration path from GPON to 10GPON, and there will be no need for forced migration" of customers that have no immediate need for 10GPON, says Thomas Kallstenius, director of product marketing at AlcaLu's wireline networks business.

That migration path is critical for AlcaLu, as it increases the chances that its existing GPON customers won't churn to another vendor if they want to upgrade to 10GPON. AlcaLu currently claims to have 80 GPON equipment customers. (See AlcaLu Lands GPON, 3G Deals in China, AlcaLu Wins GPON Deal, SFR Trials GPON Backhaul, and AlcaLu's GPON Goes Portuguese, for example.)

All of this is very forward-looking, of course. LTE is due to be deployed by a handful of pioneering mobile operators in 2010, while 10GPON, which will enable 10 Gbit/s downstream and 2.5 Gbit/s upstream, is still a pre-standards technology. According to the recent Heavy Reading report, "FTTH Review & Five-Year Forecast: The Road to Next-Gen PON," the ITU's 10GPON standard is due to be ratified next year, with commercial products hitting the streets "at the end of 2010, or more likely early in 2011."

Kallstenius says the use of 10GPON in this particular demonstration is to show how rising volumes of mobile data traffic can be handled in the future. "LTE base stations will initially need 100 Mbit/s for backhaul. This could be achieved with GPON, or even VDSL2, but carriers will need higher capacity in the future."

Enhancing GPON interoperability
AlcaLu's other technology news today centers around its efforts to enhance interoperability between its GPON OLT (optical line terminal) and ONTs from third-party vendors.

The vendor is publishing an "OMCI Interoperability Implementer’s Guide - Version 1" that provides ONT vendors with information about AlcaLu's ONT management and control interfaces (OMCI), which enable service level communication between ONTs, which are located at the business or residential end user's premises, and OLTs in the carrier's exchanges.

But as GPON is already a ratified and increasingly mature standard, shouldn't third-party ONTs already communicate seamlessly with AlcaLu's OLT platform? (Look, it's a hypothetical question, OK? So no laughing at the back...)

Kallstenius notes that while there is good interoperability at the physical and transmission layers, "the standard for OMCI was too loosely defined. As a result, vendors could be standards-compliant, but yet their products still wouldn't work together seamlessly."

To counter the problem, the Full Service Access Network (FSAN) group has been developing a set of OMCI best practices that, if followed, should ensure interoperability between OLTs and ONTs from different vendors. (See Who Makes What: GPON & WDM-PON Equipment.)

The best practice specifications have been developed in two phases, the first of which has been completed, tested by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) , and used by AlcaLu as the foundation of its guide. (See Faith, Hope & GPON.)

The second phase is due any time, probably before the end of September, says Kallstenius, who notes that the FSAN development is important for ONT vendors that want to make it quicker and easier for their products to work with OLTs from the major vendors, and for carriers, which will be able to source their ONTs from a broader range of suppliers.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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