NXTcomm Preview: GPON & WDM-PON

Sure, the iPhone, Yahoo/Microsoft, and now Yahoo/Google are dominating the headlines. But NXTcomm08 is merely days away, and GPON once again will be a big access story, with WDM-PON making some noise as well.

Last year, a lot of vendors were merely playing catchup, adding GPON for the first time to their product lines. Some touted interoperability and new cost-saving features. (See NXTcomm Preview: GPON Gear and NXTcomm: GPON Wrap-Up.) Others, like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), made major customer win announcements. (See AT&T Picks GPON Players.) A year later, Ericsson says it still hasn't deployed any gear as a result of that win, but should start seeing orders come in 2009. (See Ericsson: Ready to Ramp GPON.)

But what's going on with PON this year? Here are the pre-NXTcomm highlights:

TXP looks backwards
TXP Corp. (Nasdaq: TXPO) announced an RF return capability in its GPON optical network terminals (ONTs) that will make them backwards-interoperable with the two biggest names in set-top boxes, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Scientific Atlanta . (See TXP Touts ONT for GPON IPTV.)

The biggest implication of this is that carriers can upgrade their video customers to a GPON platform without having to replace the thousands of set-tops already installed in homes.

A big feature for TXP is RF return, where the 1310nm wavelength is used for sending data from the customer back to the central office. It is a key component in offering triple-play services.

Iamba goes MDU
Multiple dwelling units (MDUs) make up a significant portion of carriers' footprints, and Iamba Networks Inc. is making a new chip to work with the GPON ONTs that'll be deployed in them. (See Iamba Develops MDU GPON.)

Many apartment buildings are old, with tight, hard-to-reach conduit infrastructures. That's why they connect to each unit via VDSL2 over the installed copper, a more feasible option than running new fiber. Iamba's iSN1000D is meant to fit that VDSL2 architecture.

Other vendors such as Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX) have recently started MDU-specific gear. (See Calix Joins MDU ONT Party.) Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), one of the major ONT/OLT vendors, says its first MDU ONT is slated for a July launch.

According to ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT), we're wasting our time talking about GPON, because WDM-PON is the future. And to make future upgrades from GPON to WDM-PON easier, it's showing off a new PON transport platform with a plug-and-play, WDM-capable splitter. (See ADC Does WDM-PON.)

The splitter is meant to make the eventual upgrade to WDM-PON from GPON seamless. But is ADC considering the fact that only a minimal number of GPON deployments even exist today? It'd be hard to make a seamless transition between the two, when the preceding technology isn't widely deployed yet.

You'll recall ADC got a foot in the WDM-PON game a year ago, with the help of Novera Optics Inc. (See ADC, Novera Team.)

And there's more
Of course, more PON chatter will be in the works during the coming week. Here's the buzz so far:

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

frnkblk 12/5/2012 | 3:38:22 PM
re: NXTcomm Preview: GPON & WDM-PON Just want to point out that Calix is already doing RF return (I believe at 1590 nm), and it's in production in our network.

Besides RFOG being an affordable method to delivering the basic lineup to all the TV's in the home sans expensive STB, it's also a way for us to provide two-way video services using technology that works, while the IPTV vendors figure out their interoperability messes and deliver a PVR-capable solution.

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