Optical Solutions supports BPON and GPON in new FTTP system

20 August 2003 Minneapolis, MN Lightwave -- Optical Solutions Inc. has unveiled its new FiberPath 500 fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) system, as well as the equipment's first customer. The system can support either ITU G.983 ATM-based passive optical networks (which the company calls BPON) or gigabit-speed G.984 GPON via software selection. A company source expects the additional GPON capabilities to cost less than current BPON functionality.

ITU G.983, the basis for most ATM PON offerings available today, supports 622 Mbits/sec downstream and 155 Mbits/sec upstream. ITU G.984 GPON, now in the final stages of full ratification, ups the transmission rates to 1.2 Gbits/sec downstream and 622 Mbits/sec upstream. It also supports IP traffic more fully.

"BPON was conceived to take advantage of the QoS [quality of service] associated with ATM," said Matt Davis, director of broadband access technologies at the Yankee Group, in a quote contained in the product announcement. "GPON offers both the quality of services inherent in ATM as well as the transport efficiency of IP. Furthermore, GPON is defined so that FTTP vendors can build higher-speed PONs using low-cost optics."

The FiberPath 500 system, operating in GPON mode, is now installed in a network operated by FTTH Communications, a Minnesota-based integrated communications provider (ICP) that operates an FTTP network in Rosemount, MN.

The greater line-rate performance of GPON fits well into the carrier's plans, according to FTTH Communications General Manager John Schultz. The carrier implemented switched digital video and other broadband data services via the Optical Solutions' previous FiberPath 400 platform. "We are truly excited about the evolution to the new FiberPath 500 because we now have the capability to offer even more bandwidth-intensive services such as 100Base-T and T1 business services, switched digital HDTV, as well as local web hosting, gaming, and other peer-to-peer applications that rely heavily on the network upstream path," he says.

"GPON delivers nearly twice the downstream bandwidth and over four times the upstream bandwidth relative to the G.983 standard. The higher upstream speeds in particular will permit either more users per node in a more symmetrical usage environment or higher-value, higher-bandwidth applications for the same number of users per node. Either way, more bandwidth and lower costs mean more revenue and greater profits for service providers," said Timm P. Bechter, vice president and broadband equipment analyst at Legg Mason Wood Walker, also quoted in the news release.

The FiberPath 500 system includes the FiberDrive Optical Line Terminal (OLT), with an integrated GR-303/TR-08 voice gateway for interface directly to all the commonly deployed Class 5 switches. The OLT offers more than 9 gigabits of bandwidth, which the company touts as the highest in the industry. The FiberDrive is located in the Central Office (CO), where voice, video and data signals are converted into optical light signals. These are transported through the passive optical network (PON) to the FiberPoint Optical Network Terminal (ONT) unit installed at the subscriber's residence or business. The FiberPoint 524 residential ONT offers four POTs lines, a 10/100 Base-T port, and one CATV port. The new 560 business ONT offers up to 20 POTS lines, four 10/100Base-T Ethernet ports, eight T1s, and four CATV ports.

Using a standard FSAN single-fiber network design, the FiberPath 500 fully supports RF video deployments including those with RF return set top boxes. RF performance exceeds 48 dB carrier-to-noise ratio at 20 km/12 mi on a fully loaded PON, according to the company.

In a face-to-face interview yesterday, Peter Jew, vice president of marketing at Optical Solutions, noted that the cost to implement GPON's 622-Mbit/sec upstream capabilities are only slightly greater than what it currently costs to provide 155 Mbits/sec via BPON. He expects prices for the FiberPath 500 will be 3 percent to 10 percent lower than the existing 400, making the 500 cost-competitive with other ATM PON systems. Jew predicts that GPON therefore will dominate PON deployments in the near future. To facilitate this evolution in the company's current customer base, the FiberPath 500 preserves the existing OLT, CPU, and network interfaces of the 400 model, as well as the same enclosures and battery units of its previous ONTs. Currently fielded 400 systems can therefore be upgraded via module and software replacement, Jew says.

Jew says that the integrated GR-303 gateway also lowers costs and complexity by obviating the need for a separate gateway system. The FiberPath 500 also does not require a separate BRAS device to interface with a carrier's IP network.

FTTH Communications represents the first of what should be three customer announcements for the FiberPath 500 system in the near future.

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