It was a classic showdown at high-noon, with tumbleweeds rolling by. There could only be one winner, and the other would have to leave town, never to return.
For the last decade we’ve all been watching the showdown between GPON (gigabit passive optical network) and Active Ethernet, looking for insights on who was the better gunslinger and who would have to leave.
And although most tier 1 carriers worldwide have selected PON technologies, there is growing interest in using Active Ethernet for FTTx implementations, and the fight is playing out in cities around the world. For example, in its Munich-based regional network, operator M-net chose to deploy the first extensive fiber access network based on GPON, whereas in Amsterdam’s FTTH (fiber-to-the-home) CityNet municipal network, Active Ethernet won out over its PON alternative.
However, maybe instead of thinking in terms of the sheriff and the outlaw – good versus bad – the time has come to shake hands and head off to the saloon together. GPON and Active Ethernet are no longer rivals. Each has its own unique role on the latest generation of the telecom frontier. GPON is best for carriers who must remain focused on lower cost of ownership yet provide that 100M per home target for residential areas and small businesses, while Active Ethernet can be used for high-capacity commercial services. And some carriers have found that deploying both will give them the best infrastructure for their diverse installed base.
Of course, once a carrier already has a GPON access network, there are good reasons for adding Ethernet. The customer base will widen to include companies that need an increased level of bandwidth, or that need to be more security-conscious than average.
Of course, this has its complications. The plan has to deal with developments that are mixed between residential and commercial, and the expansion of fiber-based access into urban and brownfield environments.
So there are certainly questions remaining for service providers. Among them are:
- Do the additional revenues gained by providing Ethernet services justify the added costs? - Can these costs be reduced by deploying converged systems that support both GPON and Active Ethernet? - What additional considerations are there when supporting multiple technologies from a single platform?
So saddle up and hold on tight. We are ready to ride!