Verizon: Huawei No Shoo-In for XG PON
But the fact that the successful field trial was undertaken using gear from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. doesn't necessarily mean the Chinese vendor is in line to pick up some purchase orders when Verizon opts for a commercial deployment of XG PON (also known as 10G PON), says Whitton.
Verizon chose Huawei (a new PON vendor for Verizon) for the field trial because Huawei was ahead of its rivals in developing a product fit for lab and field trials, says Whitton. (See Huawei Joins 10GPON Ecosystem and Huawei Raises the Optical Stakes.)
But, he stresses, participation in the field trial "has nothing to do with procurement or who we are going to deploy -- it has no bearing whatsoever."
The field test was intended to prove three basic things critical to XG PON's deployment.
First, Verizon needed to see that the core XG PON technology would function as intended and meet the operator's needs when used with the fiber plant Verizon began laying in 2004, with only the electronics at each end being changed.
"We have always designed the FiOS investment we are putting in the ground, or on posts, to be absolutely certain we can adopt next-generation technologies without making any changes whatsoever to the [fiber] plant," says Whitton.
Secondly, the field trial needed to show that XG PON can coexist with current GPON deployments, and not interfere with existing GPON signals. Verizon had prepared for this by procuring GPON gear designed to filter out the wavelengths on which XG PON signals are carried.
And third, Verizon needed to see the XG PON technology perform without any packet loss or signal degradation.
"We scored 100 on all aspects of the trial," Whitton says. "That means when the company finds it necessary, we can proceed with the actual procurement and select one or more suppliers, then go through the back office and systems integration process, and ready the product for field deployment."
The global XG PON standards won't be ratified until mid-2010, but that won't be any barrier for Verizon, since the company isn't likely to roll out XG PON by then. Whitton says there's no schedule yet for that deployment, which will likely be driven by consumer hunger for bandwidth to deliver video technologies, such as 3D video, that are just now coming onto the market.
"The large global TV manufacturers are announcing, and will be announcing more, 3D-compatible products -- next month at CES, for example," says Whitton. "That will require more bandwidth."
High-resolution 3D format video can be provided in many ways, including full resolution, which would mean delivering 1080p video at 60 frames for each eye, which requires more than 40 Mbit/s of bandwidth, says the Verizon man.
Adoption of 3D TV sets is likely to follow the same kind of curve that high-definition TV took, which means it could be several years before the new sets are inexpensive enough to be widely in use.
XG PON gear needs to go through its own maturity curve, and there's good news for Verizon on that front. When the U.S. carrier initially deployed PON in 2004 and began deploying GPON in 2006, there were few other large-scale deployments of either, leaving Verizon to push vendors both on functionality and price. This time around, other global carriers have joined the parade.
"What's helping here is we have other countries getting on the PON bandwagon -- the actual size of aggregate pie is getting bigger," says Whitton. "In China, they've started to deploy a significant amount of fiber to the premises. In the past, Verizon had been sole catalyst with BPON and to a large extent with GPON, but going forward we think there will be other buyers in the marketplace beyond Verizon, so we don't have to be the sole entity out there accelerating that lifecycle curve."
And having gone through the BPON to GPON transition, Verizon believes it's well prepared for the leap to XG PON, states Whitton.
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading