Cable Tech

Last Mile Reaches Out

LONDON -- Lightspeed Europe 2001 -- The market for high-speed network access products continues to grow, despite the economic downturn. And experts see an ongoing upswing that will result not only in more revenues but new business models. So said panelists at a session on "The First Mile" at the Lightspeed Europe 2001 conference today.

"The last mile area is the only equipment area in optical networking where we see significant growth this year," said panel leader Michael Howard, principal analyst and cofounder of market research firm Infonetics Research Inc. He said this year's worldwide revenue estimates for access CPE reveal a range of access techniques:

The group, including vendors of passive optical networking (PON) and freespace optics, said the opportunities to link business and home users to fiber-based services is just too good to pass up, even for service providers with straitened capex.

"About 80 percent of all end users we target [as potential PON customers] are within 3,000 feet of [telecom fiber]. And 50 percent are within 1,000 feet of fiber," said Jeff Gwynne, cofounder and VP of marketing at Quantum Bridge Communications Inc.

Gwynne says he sees ILECs and PTTs, as well as cable TV operators, looking for ways to extend their fiber economically in order to tap the opportunity to gain new customers for lucrative Internet-based voice, video, and data services. And he says last year's CLECs are giving way to new kinds of municipal integrators that are setting up fiber networks for their cities, often using rights of way from utility company partners.

Keith Shaneman, development manager of access solutions for Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW), said that over the past few months, there's been a 60 to 80 percent decline in the price of splitters and couplers used in PONs, making the solution even more attractive to service providers.

PON isn't the only access game in town. Other last-mile access solutions are also on the rise, panelists said. Heinz Willebrand, CEO of LightPointe Communications Inc., sees today's emphasis on access as a chance to break through carriers' hesitance to try wireless solutions.

"Don't be afraid of free-space optics; we are just another transport [alternative]," he said.

Panelists also said interest in metro Ethernet is high. "Everyone agrees there will a network; the question is how do we get there," said Jos Baart, director of metro access at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY). Ethernet solutions, even though they use nonstandard, proprietary methods right now in metro networks, are perceived by carriers as the smartest way to spend access dollars, he said, since Ethernet is a proven technology based on affordable equipment.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading
HarveyMudd 12/4/2012 | 7:28:30 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out Althogh there are some advantages to the PON technology, but the market is not yet ready.

Some of the best and reliable products come from Lucent Technologies.
cnliii 12/4/2012 | 7:28:20 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out can you explain to me the difference between PON and fiber to the home? why hasn't SBC's PON initiative been more successful?
rs50terra 12/4/2012 | 7:28:15 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out Can anybody explain where lies the big economic advantage of PON? I can think of two factors: a)reduce the number of interfaces on the OLT; b)save some fiber
The problems they I can think of are: a) a PON operates at much higher rate than a Point-to-Point connection and therefore the cost of the PHY would possibly be higher b) is the cost of installing a splitter lower than the additional cost of fiber from the OLT to the splitter?
Obviously I don't have the answers and I wonder if anybody on this list can educate me.

DKP 12/4/2012 | 7:27:53 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out > Can anybody explain where lies the
> big economic advantage of PON?

Most mistakenly look at the node (box) cost advantage for PON, but it actually elsewhere that it has advantages.

(1) Economic Advantage #1 (Infrastructure)
The Outside Plant (fiber, splitters, etc), including Deployment cost are 50% compared to dedicated fiber links. SBC, NTT, Corning, etc has openly published this data. This is because the number of fibers, transceivers, splices, etc are reduced by approx 1/32nd, as well as the deployment of them. This is a big part of last mile cost.

(2) Economic Advantage #2 (Maintenance)
PON is a passive network, and avoids active switching boxes. Thus, no need for curb side boxes with batteries, electrical power, backplanes, etc. The Economic advantage here is maintenance.

(3) Economic Advantage #3 (Central Office)
Reduces the amount of fiber terminations in the Central Office.
kz1x 12/4/2012 | 7:27:44 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out the dark secrets of PON "advantages" ... what happens when you have to add the 33rd split in a PON node area already having 32 of the 32 splits used up? what happens when you have to bump up the single-TX data rate (say, from 1 GB/s to 10 GB/s) due to user demand and all 32 end stations can no longer keep up? what happens whne someone asks why they have to 'listen' to everyone's data coming from the same laser, kind of like cable modems work now? why should you burden the cost of end-user gear with a laser powerful enough to blast through a 32:1 inverse mux? why are they working on munging the Ethernet protocol so it can run on PONs, isn't that like throwing the baby out with the bath water?
gilra1 12/4/2012 | 7:27:35 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out
I have some comments on your answers, comapring PON to Ponit to Point:

(1) Economic advantage

The savings on external plant are compensated by the heavy requirements on the HW. OLT's & ONU's are far more expensive than point to point systems. Actually, total cost is higher in PONs (You can either belive it or not, but I have worked out models of both systems - both suppied by my company-). Costs of fibre, joint boxes and splicing coud be approximately 150 USD/user in a point to point system.

(2) Even in the case of similar costing (thay now is not), I believe that is strategically better investing in SM fibre (technology neutral) than in equipment (danger of obsolescency).

(3) Ponint to point is a full passive network as well, if correctly designed.
tet109 12/4/2012 | 7:27:32 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out I have test many optic products Sonet, DWDM, and PON, etc. My company will use each in network for 2002 probably for different services. PON have many advantage over other optic technologies for certain use. 32 split have nothing to do with real limit of PON real limit is based on optic power and PON optic burst no more expensive than Sonet continous. BUt Sonet have place in network and DWDM and point to point also.

rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 7:26:33 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out This is amazing. I thought I was the only one who saw through the PONs scheme. All of the market drivers are on the side of point-to-point optical access

The trials I have seen used passive optical splitters. Do you know of any trial using point-to-point, including who funded the deployment?
nomad 12/4/2012 | 7:26:33 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out This is amazing. I thought I was the only one who saw through the PONs scheme. All of the market drivers are on the side of point-to-point optical access
rs50terra 12/4/2012 | 7:26:15 PM
re: Last Mile Reaches Out DKP and others,

Thanks for the information. I believe the true economic advantage of PON lies in two areas: less fiber in the CO and a dramatic reduction in the number of splices and the associated work.

I find it hard to accept the cost reduction for fiber. After all we are discussing the Access Network so all we save is 31 X ( 2 km to 3 km) between the OLT and the splitter.

P-t-P is also a passive ODN so there seem to be no savings in this area.

We still have the problem of having to use higher rate interfaces and more complex control circuitry. Did DKP factor that in?

Thank you all.
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