Verizon is hoping that bringing channel bonding to NG-PON2 will finally allow it to increase bandwidth on an access fiber network without also changing out the equipment that sits in the field.
Vincent O'Byrne, director of access technology at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), tells Light Reading today in an interview, that his company is trying to learn from the painful experiences of moving from broadband passive optical networks (BPON) to gigabit PONs (GPON) and now to next-generation PON (NG-PON2), and having in each instance to either replace existing optical line terminals in the outside plant or deploy new equipment adjacent to those boxes in order to boost bandwidth.
Commenting on the day that one of its trial vendors -- Calix -- announced a successful demo of NG-PON2 channel bonding, O'Byrne said Verizon pushed for that standard so it can add bandwidth by adding wavelengths and then deliver more throughput per customer by bonding those wavelengths, for up to 40 Gbit/s symmetrically. (See Calix Touts Channel Bonding for NG-PON2).
There are already businesses and cell sites today that need more than a 10Gbit/s service, and there is no guarantee residential customers won't someday need that kind of capacity, O'Byrne notes.
"When we started [with BPON] in 2004, we were offering 5 Megs or as high as 30 Megs soon thereafter, but we never thought we could need up to a gigabit per second for residential customers," he says. "Within 13 years, the rates have increased between 30 and 200 times. Looking forward, nobody thinks we will need a factor of ten in five years, or beyond that, on a platform that will last ten to 15 years. But we just don't know."
Verizon pushed for standards in this space that would enable deployment of channel bonding -- which is actually a mature technology in the DSL space -- using specialized optical network terminals (ONTs), on existing field gear.
"What we would like is, third time lucky, to get another chance to do it right," he says. "Instead of having to put a new OLT everywhere -- continue the way we are doing by adding new wavelengths, using specialized ONTs."
The idea is to enable a pay-as-you-grow strategy where channel bonding allows a combination of wavelengths when a customer demands it, and the costs associated with that delivery are only incurred when the revenue is there to justify it.
"Bonded technology is a very important option as we see demand in bandwidth, we can go beyond 10 gig to a customer and and we can do it more gracefully," O'Byrne says. "It's more success-based."
It's likely channel-bonding will be important in delivering the increased bandwidth support 5G cells will require, as those are expected to be smaller and need more backhaul. But the Verizon exec says it's too soon to tell, as 5G standards continue to evolve. It will become more clear down the road whether 5G is primarily a mobile or a fixed access solution and that will impact how backhaul networks are set up.
Channel bonding will enable Verizon to support business and residential customers on the same fiber, he notes. Today, there is concern about doing that, since any disruption to residential service can impact businesses and their service level agreements, but with channel bonding and software-defined access, Verizon will be able to move the business customer to a separate wavelength on the fiber and protect their service from any changes or problems with the residential service.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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