Stimulus wins, next-gen considerations give Active Ethernet FTTH a boost

SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- While conceding that PON will retain the lead in overall fiber to the home (FTTH) deployments, proponents of Active Ethernet at the 2010 FTTH Conference feel good about their technology’s prospects.

Sep 15th, 2010

SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- While conceding that PON will retain the lead in overall fiber to the home (FTTH) deployments, proponents of Active Ethernet at the 2010 FTTH Conference feel good about their technology’s prospects. A combination of open-access broadband stimulus wins for non-incumbents as well as increased interest in what comes after bandwidth requirements exceed the capabilities of the current generation of PONs have raised Active Ethernet’s profile, sources say.

Most Tier 1 carriers worldwide have settled on either GPON or EPON for FTTH, and likely will evolve toward the 10-Gbps versions of these infrastructures as their requirements dictate (and the necessary platforms become commercially available at attractive price points). But several municipalities and alternative carriers -- the principal beneficiaries of broadband stimulus funding in the U.S. and the primary drivers of FTTH in Europe -- have turned to Active Ethernet. The technology’s ability to provide large amounts of bandwidth, accommodate open access requirements, and provide operational simplicity can make Active Ethernet appealing to these FTTH upstarts. In addition, the relatively smaller subscriber numbers of rural carriers and many municipalities partially negate the extra fiber costs Active Ethernet architectures demand compared to PON.

The bandwidth capacity potential of point-to-point Active Ethernet also has proponents hopeful that carriers currently using PON will reconsider Active Ethernet when contemplating what to do when their current FTTH networks reach capacity exhaust. In particular, PON deployers who have placed their splitters in the central office could readily switch to Active Ethernet, since their networks look like home run architectures already.

However, not all applications are ripe for an evolution from PON to Active Ethernet, sources at the show point out. Since Active Ethernet is more fiber intensive, networks in which duct space is limited or where a large number of subscribers would push new fiber deployment costs unacceptably high might continue to prove more friendly to PON.



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