Verizon Revs Up Wireline Race With NG-PON2

Hold on to your hats. Next-gen optical technology is getting a rocket boost thanks to a successful field test by Verizon, and a commitment by the telco to issue a request for proposals from equipment and software providers later this year. That RFP, when it comes, will signal the start of a major network upgrade initiative that allows Verizon to offer symmetrical broadband speeds up to 10 Gbits/s, with the potential to go even higher.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s field test of next-generation passive optical network (NG-PON2) technology took place on a network link between the company's central office in Framingham, Mass., and a home three miles away served by Verizon FiOS. The test required installation of a new optical line terminal (OLT) at the central office supporting four wavelengths, each capable of delivering speeds up to 10 Gbits/s downstream and 2.5 Gbits/s upstream. Verizon also said it was able to demonstrate the simultaneous use of standard GPON and NG-PON2 on a single fiber, and a successful fail-over scenario where its new ONT autonomously restored 10G service by tuning to a new wavelength after a simulated fault was introduced.

Vendor partners in the trial included Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and PT Inovação , which provided the NG-PON2 equipment system.

The primary appeal of NG-PON2 is its application in commercial services. Telecom providers face growing competition in the business services arena, and increased demand for more bandwidth from customers, particularly related to mobile fronthaul and backhaul applications. (See 10G PON Technologies: Where Do They Make Sense?)

However, Verizon also called out the potential for NG-PON2 in residential services as well, noting a need for more bandwidth that will be driven by 4K or Ultra HD video and the Internet of Things. In other words, Verizon finally answered the competitive siren coming from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), cable operators and other providers who are touting their own gigabit and multi-gigabit residential deployments. (See Comcast trots out Gigabit Pro… at a price, Gigabites: Wall Street Cheers EPB's Gig and EPB: 10Gbit/s Service Feasible Within a Year.)

"The advantage of our FiOS network," said Lee Hicks, vice president of network technology at Verizon, "is that it can be upgraded easily by adding electronics onto the fiber network that is already in place. Deploying this exciting new technology sets a new standard for the broadband industry and further validates our strategic choice of fiber-to-the-premises."

Want to know more about gigabit activity? Find out what's happening where in our dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel here on Light Reading.

By announcing its plan to release an RFP this year, Verizon threw down the metaphorical gauntlet to network vendors in the industry. The last widespread upgrade to its fiber network took place with the transition from BPON to GPON that started in 2006. At the time, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Motorola and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) were the big contract winners. AlcaLu looks to be a possible candidate this time around too, but it's facing numerous rivals that are also making noise in the NG-PON2 market, including Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and of course Cisco. (See Alcatel-Lucent Fires NG-PON2 Starting Gun, Calix Enters NG-PON2 Race and Eurobites: Cyber Attack Hits UK Mobile Giant.)

Adtran, notably, introduced a new "flexible optics approach" to NG-PON2 deployments back in May. The company's solution supports interoperability with different types of optical transceivers, allowing for a pay-as-you-grow business model that could significantly improve the economics of any commercial rollout. Like any good New IP solution, Adtran's offering also supports provisioning through open APIs, creating a method for using software-defined networking to manage bandwidth upgrades. (See Adtran Claims Advance in NG-PON2 Economics.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

KBode 8/13/2015 | 1:17:07 PM
Re: Gigabit It was tested at both a residence and business in Mass., so the future implementation would be for both.
brooks7 8/12/2015 | 5:49:53 PM
Re: Gigabit "given lack of traction in FIOS"  

FiOS did a lot to hold the line in Wireline for Verizon.  Did you guys miss the part where this is for business services?


KBode 8/12/2015 | 3:40:01 PM
Re: Gigabit I've currently got a 50 Mbps symmetrical FiOS line and I've yet to find myself in any situation where massively more bandwidth seemed like a good idea, much less a necessity.
Mitch Wagner 8/12/2015 | 3:21:07 PM
Re: Gigabit Indeed. There's good reason to be skeptical, given lack of traction in FIOS, the experimental nature of this technology, and slow consumer adoption of 4K (which would require this kind of high bandwidth).

And we still don't know anything about pricing. Given a choice between very expensive gigabit connections and less expensive standard broadband, many consumers decide standard broadband is just fine. 
KBode 8/12/2015 | 2:43:57 PM
Gigabit Of course they've yet to offer 1 Gbps speeds yet. I'd also wonder just how much per month a gig, or even ten gig, service would cost consumers given Verizon's current pricing. $800 a month?
Duh! 8/12/2015 | 2:34:32 PM
PT Inovação? First I've heard of them doing anything in the US market.  They're not on the short list of players that I'd have expected to be there.  What's behind all that?
Duh! 8/12/2015 | 2:21:26 PM
Re: GPON co-existence First, to Ray's point.  Backward co-existence should not be a surprise.  It has been a requirement in FSAN (and IEEE 802.3) ever since BPON operators realized that GPON would be a forklift upgrade.  The same requirement applies to X-GPON2 and 10GEPON. Spectrum allocations ("bandplan" in FSAN-speak) have become increasingly complex, as have the WDM filters necessary to implement co-existence.  Incidentally, co-existence is not 100% guranteed;  old GPON ONTs that lack wavelength blocking filters (WBF) can't coexist, and some PONs might have been built so close to the optical loss budget that they can't accomodate the extra filters.

Keep in mind, this is a field trial.  Tier 1 operators do these things without necessarily having detailed commercial plans.  Sometimes they are followed by an RFP and FOA, sometimes not.  You'll recall that VZ did a field trial, followed by an RFP, of X-GPON1 about 5 years ago, and haven't yet (to my knowledge) deployed any.  

Also keep in mind, the gear is not-ready-for-prime-time.  The standards are not complete. Key features, including the 10Gb/s upstream PHY, aren't being demonstrated.  I have no visibility into cost right now, but expect that key components -- tunable upstream transmitters and downstream receivers and perhaps co-existence filters -- are very expensive relative to GPON components and to acceptable ASPs.

I'm not going to get started as to why X-GPON2 for consumer and small business customers is a pipe dream.
[email protected] 8/12/2015 | 3:39:45 AM
GPON co-existence That NG-PON2 (aka TWDM-PON) can co-exist with GPON is incredibly important and, depending on the components cost, this next wave of high-speed broadband could become a commercial reality quicker than first imagined, given the impetus of the Gigabit services sector. 

Verizon isn't alone, of course. Batelco in Bahrain has been testing this with Huawei while Vodafone has been checking out this tech with AlcaLu:


Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone Test TWDM-PON
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