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Verizon Brings GPON to the Desktop

Using the same technology its vendors developed to push FiOS into MDUs, Verizon Business now offers fiber LAN

November 3, 2009

4 Min Read
Verizon Brings GPON to the Desktop

In a reversal of the usual direction of deployment benefits, technology Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) developed to take its FiOS service into multidwelling units is enabling a fiber-to-the-desktop service that Verizon Enterprise Solutions is already selling to the federal government and will soon take to commercial customers.

Verizon Optical LAN Solutions (OLS) uses a singlemode fiber, and the same basic GPON gear -- optical line terminals, optical network units, fiber distribution hubs -- used today in MDUs, to create a local area network capable of delivering up to 25 terahertz of capacity over 12 miles. The PON architecture eliminates the need for active electronics in the network and therefore the need for power or heating/cooling at each network endpoint, a substantial savings for customers, claims William Kight, Verizon group manager and network engineer.

As a Layer 2 transport service, Verizon OLS supports converged voice, data, and video service over a network that can be easily upgraded for future bandwidth needs.

"Because of the residential deployments, the cost of all the technology associated with GPON has come down to the point where we could use it in the enterprise," Kight says.

Verizon helped drive down those costs by pushing its vendors hard for solutions to common deployment problems for fiber within MDUs. That's resulted in smaller and less costly ONUs; bend-insensitive fiber in rugged cable housing; and pre-connectorized fiber drops with slack storage built into the terminal device, such as the ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT) Rapid Fiber system, which Verizon is using in its OLS service. (See ADC Expands Fiber Menu.)

Verizon has thus far deployed OLS in two of its own buildings -- a two-story building in Hanover, Md., used by 500 Verizon employees, and a building on Lexington Avenue in New York City -- and in a federal government building serving 800 employees at Annapolis Junction in the Washington metro area. Based on Verizon analysis, when compared to typical workgroup switch-based Ethernet, the OLS cuts power consumption by up to 65 percent, capital expense by up to 74 percent, and space required for the equipment by up to 90 percent.

LANs extended throughout a building or across a campus typically require active electronics at every floor or terminating location, meaning equipment closets full of complex wiring and gear that has to provide power, backup power, heating and cooling, says Tom Huegerich, vice president of global business development for ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT).

By using GPON, the Verizon OLS approach simplifies all of that, eliminating capex up front and opex throughout the lifecycle. And the distance limitations of previous solutions -- 100 meters for a horizontal run or 300 meters for multimode fiber -- are also a thing of the past.

"It’s all plug and play -- there is no splicing or labor involved," Huegerich says. “Plus, you can extend the LAN to 20 kilometers, making it an ideal solution for a campus environment with multiple buildings."

Verizon Business originally tried this approach in response to a federal government request for information (RFI) three years ago. "They were looking for new ideas," Kight says. “We went back to our chief technologist, Mark Wegleitner’s group, to see if we could do this, working with GPON, on a very large scale. They were very helpful, very supportive."

Customer interest thus far has centered on the power savings and the environmentally friendly aspects of deploying a network that doesn’t require a lot of power or HVAC, Kight says. "Particularly with the government, there is a green initiative, so we are seeing a lot of interest there." Verizon is close to some major contracts, he notes. "The cost savings alone are attractive to most organizations."

ADC is seeing broad interest, Huegerich claims, because enterprises are trying to centralize their data centers for efficiency reasons. And having a single, high-powered network that can extend the reach of those centralized resources has great appeal, he says.

Although ADC initially partnered with Verizon on OLS, and is providing installation support for the service, the vendor is seeing interest from other service providers. And Verizon, which is planning to take the OLS offer to its global customers, is beginning to see other carriers in the space as well, according to Kight.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Ethernet Expo 2009, Light Reading’s ninth conference and exposition covering the hot topic of Carrier Ethernet network technologies and services in North America. To be staged in New York, November 3 & 4, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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