The Informa view: 2014 will be an important year for G-PON interoperability

Informa's survey suggests service providers and vendors are confident that they can derive mutual gains from G-PON interoperability and certification, especially in terms of reducing time-to-market. A number of major service providers are in the process of moving towards multivendor networks, while challenger vendors see interoperability as a way to get a foot in the door of existing deployments. Skeptics may say they’ve heard it all before, but more pieces seem to be in place to make it happen this time around.

Extend interoperability, educate about deployability

There will always be a trade-off between the how much time and money certification can save service providers and how much it costs vendors to conform. The BBF is right to extend G-PON certification to cover wholesale, multicast and mobile backhaul and other emerging service models, but it also needs to help ONU vendors to spread the cost of certifying the growing number of products in their portfolios, say by allowing variants to be granted certification if a vendor’s flagship product passes. The industry should also focus on promoting guidelines about deployability based on realworld case studies.

The industry needs to rebalance the multivendor business case

Some vendors might question how reasonable service providers’ calls for greater G-PON interoperability are, but they are likely to grow rather than abate. Informa believes the industry should innovate in order to capitalise on, rather than resist, the transition to multivendor networks. Service providers need to collaborate more to create scale for their requirements, while OLT vendors should restructure their offerings to offset potential lost ONU sales with revenues from implementing and managing interoperability and bettersegmented ONU portfolios.

Success will depend ultimately on marketing, not technology

The majority of executives Informa interviewed were satisfied with the Broadband Forum's certification schemes and test plans. The greatest challenge the organization faces is getting its message across to the skeptics, the undecided and the plain unaware. Key to this effort will be understanding and explaining how multivendor deployments can drive innovation and reduce the total cost of ownership of G-PON, and not just the per-unit cost of ONUs.

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Survey says: BT superfast broadband boosts Cornish businesses

Cornwall’s new fiber-optic broadband network has now passed 206,000 homes and businesses – 82% of the total in the county – making it one of the best connected areas in Britain and the best connected rural region in Europe, according to BT. The UK operator is rolling out fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in a project jointly funded by BT, the EU, and Cornwall Council.

Meanwhile new research, commissioned by BT and published by SERIO at Plymouth University and Buckman Associates, shows that the network is already providing a major economic boost to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region.

Early indications from the study – which the operator claims is the first of its kind to explore the economic impact of fiber-optic broadband on British SMEs – found that after 12 months, 83% of businesses were saving time and money thanks to the faster speeds and innovative services that fiber-based broadband enables.

In fact, 6 out of every 10 (58%) SMEs surveyed said their business is growing because of the new technology, while more than a quarter (26%) said they have either created or safeguarded jobs as a direct result of the efficiency and innovation that superfast broadband encourages.

As well as the reported increase in jobs and revenues, over a third of businesses completing the survey (37.5%) reported that superfast broadband had helped their business to generate new sales, with a quarter (24%) of that group pointing to new trade overseas.

Vice president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes said, “This research has real international significance because it starts to vindicate what we’ve said all along – that fiber broadband will energize our economy, generate jobs, and save public money. With the help of major investment by the European Regional Development Fund, businesses can now take advantage of fiber broadband in Cornwall to become more competitive and more productive. For both businesses and the communities they serve, there can be no better investment in our future than superfast broadband.”

Liv Garfield, CEO, Openreach, said, “We’re very proud of the work BT is doing in Cornwall, and in many ways the region has become a perfect template for us in other rural areas of the UK. Cornwall Council has shown strong leadership and real commitment to this project. We’ve been able to go even further than originally planned and, thanks to the success and skill of our engineering team, we reached our original target of 80% coverage some 15 months ahead of schedule.”

BT says that the Superfast Cornwall project is on-track to get fiber broadband to 95% – extending its original target – of the region, as well as the Isles of Scilly by the end of 2014. Currently, more than 35,000 homes and businesses are taking advantage of faster fiber speeds, including an estimated 4130 SMEs. BT has plans to boost broadband speeds for the remaining 5% of premises (about 13,000) using alternative technologies.

CenturyLink adds Las Vegas to 1 Gbps FTTP pilot

CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) says that it will extend its 1-Gbps fiber to the premises (FTTP) pilot project to Las Vegas, NV. The U.S. Tier 1 carrier had previously announced its intention to test FTTP-enable gigabit services in Omaha, NE. CenturyLink says it expects to offer 1-Gbps services to homes and businesses in Vegas this fall – and may not be done with its expansion plans.

There were at least 26 “gigabit communities” in the United States as of last month, according to research conducted on behalf of the FTTH Council Americas by RVA LLC. Twenty of these use networks provided by the municipalities themselves or competitive service providers, with Google Fiber among the latter demographic. Major incumbent providers are beginning to react, as CenturyLink’s pilot and AT&T’s announcement that it will offer 1-Gbps services in Austin, TX, indicate.

“CenturyLink is pleased to announce that Las Vegas will be the next city to receive ultra-fast broadband speeds up to 1 Gbps,” said Matt Beal, CenturyLink chief technology officer. “We know our customers will embrace this new technology that will allow them to simultaneously use multiple devices in their homes and businesses without the burden of bandwidth constraints.”

Many of the communities that have moved to 1-Gbps services have used the availability of such high-speed connectivity as a way to increase their appeal to high-tech businesses looking for new homes. Las Vegas is no different.

“This is wonderful news for Las Vegas,” said U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. “Advances like these will ensure that Las Vegas continues to cement its reputation as a high-tech hub. I support these efforts by CenturyLink, and welcome more investments in our local economy. I look forward to even more access to high-speed technology in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.”

“An aspect of my efforts as Governor has been fostering the growth of Nevada’s technology industry throughout the state,” said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. “Las Vegas has always been one of America’s most connected cities and is quickly becoming a premier destination for launching tech-focused businesses. CenturyLink’s high-speed 1 Gbps fiber network pilot in Las Vegas adds another level of vital infrastructure to support our continued growth as a technology-driven city.”

CenturyLink says that it plans to launch 1-Gbps capabilities in other communities “into 2014.” Meanwhile, small business customers in “select locations” will also be offered the service early next year.