BBWF: ZTE Touts 10G EPON Trials

PARIS -- Broadband World Forum Europe -- As the race to commercialize next-generation fixed broadband technologies speeds up, Chinese vendor ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) says its 10GEPON technology has been involved in two carrier field trials in China.

The vendor says its ZXA10 C300 platform, which was first unveiled late last year and can house multiple FTTX technologies, was used for the trials, which began in July and which were recently completed. (See ZTE Touts 10G EPON and ZTE Touts Next Gen PON.)

The 10GEPON connections, which can support 10 Gbit/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream, or 10 Gbit/s symmetric (depending on the variant deployed), were used for a number of different services during the trials, including high-definition TV, high-speed Internet access, and data backhaul, according to Xu Ming, a VP at ZTE's broadband business.

He didn't identify the carriers involved, but Light Reading believes China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) is one of them: The carrier has been organizing 10GEPON interoperability tests, and talk on the show floor in Paris was that the carrier was among those carriers trialing ZTE. (See Opulan Passes 10G EPON Test .)

All three of China's giant carriers -- the other two being China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) and China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), in case you've been asleep -- are promoting high-speed fixed broadband services, and are exploring next-generation technology options for both their fixed and mobile access networks. (See AlcaLu Lands GPON, 3G Deals in China and China Set for DSL, FTTH Boom.)

ZTE's Ming expects mass deployment of 10GEPON systems (for which pre-standards chips have been available for some months) to start in 2010, and says that while there have been trials in China only, carriers outside China have also expressed interest. (See Vitesse Intros 10G-EPON IC, PMC Unveils Symmetric 10G EPON, Teknovus Unveils 10G EPON, and PMC-Sierra Demos 10G EPON.)

10GEPON, effectively an upgrade to EPON (which is broadly deployed across Asia/Pacific), has almost completed the standards process at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) : Its ratification is on the agenda of the Institute's Standards Board, which meets this Friday (Sept. 11), says Glen Kramer, chair of the IEEE's 10GEPON Task Force.

But it's just one of three next-generation PON (passive optical network) technologies set to supersede current favorites EPON (aka GEPON) and GPON, which has found particular favor in the U.S. (though there are signs of growing interest in China). (See BBWF: Ericsson Enters AT&T's GPON Domain, AlcaLu Lands GPON, 3G Deals in China, Who Makes What: GPON & WDM-PON Equipment, and Ericsson Scores GPON Wins in China.)

The other two next-generation PON technologies are still some way off being standardized, according to the recent Heavy Reading report, "FTTH Review & Five-Year Forecast: The Road to Next-Gen PON." (See Fiber, Fiber Everywhere….)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 's 10GPON (or NG-PON1) 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," writes the report's author, Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie. This technology will enable 10 Gbit/s downstream and 2.5 Gbit/s upstream.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) demonstrated its 10GPON prototype during this week's Broadband World Forum event in Paris. (See BBWF: AlcaLu Shows Off 10GPON.)

The third next-gen option is WDM PON, which is not yet in a formal standards process, though informal discussions are taking place, according to Heavy Reading's Finnie. He doesn't expect to see a standard until at least 2012, "and most likely later." This technology delivers a dedicated wavelength to each end user over a long distance, with up to 10 Gbit/s per wavelength.

Although that technology is a long way off, its potential is exciting some carriers, including Telecom Italia (TIM) . (See BBWF: WDM PON? Bring It On!)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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