GPON interoperability essential according to study

An Informa Telecoms & Media study conducted on behalf of the Broadband Forum indicates that a majority of carriers view interoperability and certification of GPON gear will prove essential for the fiber to the home (FTTH) technology’s future prospects.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Broadband Forum offers both an interoperability test plan and a GPON interoperability certification program.

Informa released the study results last week in a report entitled “Optimizing the Fiber Business Case.” The market research and consultancy firm surveyed 237 broadband industry “stakeholders” and interviewed senior executives at Orange, BT, Chunghwa Telecom, PCCW, Alcatel-Lucent, Calix, Huawei, and PT Inovacao. The report includes case studies culled from these interviews.

Both Informa and the Broadband Forum expect GPON will become the dominant FTTx access technology in 2016, passing 200 million connections in 2018 to account for three out of five FTTx connections worldwide. However, interoperability issues between different vendors’ OLT and ONU equipment has caused an array of problems for many service providers and need to be addressed if GPON is to fulfil its promise, the report suggests.

Key findings of the report include:

More than half of GPON operator respondents (53%) said that interoperability issues increased their internal testing burden, while 44% reported issues with network performance issues and 41% with greater management overhead.

Interoperability is the second most important ONU selection criteria behind price (31% versus 41%), with maintenance costs (10%), software features (8%), hardware features (7%), and number of ports (5%) considerably less influential.

Certification is emerging as a catalyst to drive the transition to multivendor GPON networks, with “many” service providers and vendors confident of deriving benefits, according to Informa and the Broadband Forum. For example, survey respondents said that, on average, certification could help, or has helped, shorten the time spent selecting and testing GPON ONUs by around 40%.

Next year will see increased activity around GPON interoperability as several major operators move towards deploying multivendor networks, a host of smaller operator RFPs hit the market, and challenger vendors look to shake up the market.

“These findings affirm the importance of the Broadband Forum BBF.247 certification program and TR-255 ONU/OLT interoperability test plan,” said the Broadband Forum’s CEO Robin Mersh. “Establishing interoperability of GPON equipment is a key building block to simplifying the deployment of fiber networks, but as noted in the case studies, there is much to be done around NG-PON2, and the biggest challenges may well be ahead of us. This work has begun and got a good jump-start at a recently held workshop between the BBF, FSAN (Full Service Access Network), and the ITU-T.”

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