Webinar Panelists Ponder PON Growth
“Verizon Communications announced they will ‘pass’ 3 million homes with PON, meaning they will bring fiber to the node, but will only drop off the main fiber [to the home] after the subscribers subscribe,” Webinar moderator Michael Howard, principal of Infonetics Research Inc., explains.
SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) and BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), on the other hand, will provide PON to the household only in new, “greenfield” housing developments, Howard says.
The Webinar, titled “PON and FTTX Update,” provided a status report on the development of different variants of passive optical networks (APON, BPON, EPON, GPON) around the world. Panelists agreed that PONs can reach a return on investment within one year and provide better scaleability and performance for carriers.
Japan’s NTT recently announced that it will invest $48 million to connect 30 million subscribers to PON by 2010. Governments in some countries in the region are sponsoring programs to promote deployment of PONs.
Infonetics, which tracks worldwide PON growth quarterly, said the technology has grown 500 percent cumulatively since 2003 and is expected to continue at that pace through 2007. Howard points to IP video as the key driver of PON’s growth.
Howard said PON solutions typically provide 100 Mbit/s of bandwidth per subscriber, and will compete directly with DSL service.
PON is growing rapidly in Asia, especially Japan, where tens of thousands of subscribers are using BPON and EPON, Infonetics says. And a new round of less expensive products expected in 2005 and 2006 should continue to fuel the growth.
During the Webinar, representatives from optical equipment providers UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI), Alcatel Optronics (Nasdaq: ALAO; Paris: CGO.PA) and Acterna Corp. discussed the relative virtues of PON’s various flavors and took audience questions.
Howard says APON/BPON makes up 77 percent of all North American metro PON optical line terminal (OLT) revenue today, while EPON makes up 72 percent of all Asia/Pacific PON OLT revenue (see Infonetics Reports on PON Market).
GPON (BPON's successor) is a flexible option for providers because it's designed for Ethernet, IP, and ATM, and can stream video over both IP and cable. EPON, however, offers roughly twice the capacity of GPON, but all traffic, including video, must ride on a single wavelength, Howard says.
The Webinar will be archived here this week for future viewing.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading