The Full Service Access Network (FSAN) group has chosen wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) to complement PON's traditional time-sharing scheme for the NG-PON2 standard.
"The technology choice allows us to have a single platform supporting both business and residential services"
Vincent O'Byrne, Verizon
The TWDM-PON scheme for NG-PON2 will enable operators to run several services over one network: residential broadband access, business services and mobile back-hauling. In addition, NG-PON2 will support dedicated point-to-point links – via a WDM overlay - to meet more demanding service requirements.
FSAN will work through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to turn NG-PON2 into a standard. Standards-compliant NG-PON2 equipment is expected to become available by 2014 and be deployed by operators from 2015. But much work remains to flush out the many details and ensure that the standard meets the operators’ varied requirements
The choice of TWDM-PON represents a pragmatic approach by FSAN. TWDM-PON has been chosen to avoid having to make changes to the operators' outside plant. Instead, changes will be confined to the PON's end equipment: the central office's optical line terminal (OLT) and the home or building's optical networking unit (ONU).
Operators yet to adopt PON technology may use NG-PON2's extended reach to consolidate their network by reducing the number of central offices they manage. Other operators already having deployed PON may use NG-PON2 to boost broadband capacity while consolidating business and residential services onto the one network.
US operator Verizon has deployed GPON and says the adoption of NG-PON2 will enable it to avoid the intermediate upgrade stage of XGPON (10Gbps GPON).
"The [NG-PON2] technology choice allows us to have a single platform supporting both business and residential services," says Vincent O'Byrne, director of technology, wireline access at Verizon. "With the TWDM wavelengths, we can split them: We could have a 10G/10G service or ten individual 1G/1G services and, in time, have also residential customers."
The technology choice for NG-PON2 is also good news for system vendors such as Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent that have already done detailed work on TWDM-PON systems.
NG-PON2's basic configuration will use four wavelengths, resulting in a 40Gbps PON. Support for eight (80G) and 16 wavelengths (160G) are also being considered.
Each wavelength will support 10Gbps downstream (from the central office to the end users) and 2.5Gbps upstream (XGPON) or 10Gbps symmetrical services for business users.
"The idea is to reuse as much as possible the XGPON protocol in TWDM-PON, and carry that protocol on multiple wavelengths," says Derek Nesset, co-chair of FSAN's NGPON task group.
The PON's OLT will support the 4, 8 or 16 wavelengths using lasers and photo-detectors as well as optical multiplexing, while the ONU will require a tunable laser and a tunable filter, to set the ONU to the PON's particular wavelengths.
Other NG-PON2 specifications include the support of at least 1Gbps services per ONU and a target reach of 40km. NG-PON2 will also support 60-100km links but that will require technologies such as optical amplification.
"The [NG-PON2] ONUs should be something like the cost of a VDSL or a GPON modem, so there is a challenge there for the [tunable] laser manufacturers"
Derek Nesset, co-chair of FSAN's NGPON task group
"The big challenge and the first challenge is the wavelength plan [for NG-PON2]," says O'Byrne.
One proposal is for TWDM-PON's wavelengths to replace XGPON's. Alternatively, new unallocated spectrum could be assigned to ensure co-existence with existing GPON, RF video and XGPON. However, such a scheme will leave little spectrum available for NG-PON2. Some element of spectral flexibility will be required to accommodate the various co-existence scenarios in operator networks. That said, Verizon expects that FSAN will look for fresh wavelengths for NG-PON2.
"FSAN is a sum of operators opinions and requirements, and it is getting hard," says O'Byrne. "Our preference would be to reuse XGPON wavelengths but, at the last meeting, some operators want to use XGPON in the coming years and aren't too favourable to recharacterising that band."
Another factor regarding spectrum is how widely the wavelengths will be spaced; 50GHz, 100GHz or the most relaxed 200GHz spacing are all being considered. The tradeoff here is hardware design complexity and cost versus spectral efficiency.
There is still work to be done to define the 10Gbps symmetrical rate. "Some folks are also looking for slightly different rates and these are also under discussion," says O'Byrne.
Another challenge is that TWDM-PON will also require the development of tunable optical components. "The ONUs should be something like the cost of a VDSL or a GPON modem, so there is a challenge there for the [tunable] laser manufacturers," says Nesset.
Tunable laser technology is widely used in optical transport, and high access volumes will help the economics, but this is not the case for tunable filters, he says.
The size and power consumption of PON silicon pose further challenges. NG-PON2 will have at least four times the capacity, yet operators will want the OLT to be the same size as for GPON.
Meanwhile, FSAN has several documents in preparation to help progress ITU activities relating to NG-PON2's standardisation.
FSAN has an established record of working effectively through the ITU to define PON standards, starting with Broadband PON (BPON) and Gigabit PON (GPON) to XGPON that operators are now planning to deploy.
FSAN members have already submitted a NG-PON2 requirements document to the ITU. "This sets the framework: what is it this system needs to do?" says Nesset. "This includes what client services it needs to support - Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, mobile backhaul latency requirements - high level things that the specification will then meet."
In June 2012 a detailed requirements document was submitted as was a preliminary specification for the physical layer. These will be followed by documents covering the NG-PON2 protocol and how the management of the PON end points will be implemented.
If rapid progress continues to be made, the standard could be ratified as early as 2013, says O'Byrne.