IEEE ponders WDM-PON, 25G PON for next generation EPON

The IEEE has released the results of an investigation into the necessity and potential requirements for EPON systems beyond the current top end of 10G EPON. The document, "IEEE 802.3™ Industry Connections Feasibility Assessment for the Next Generation of EPON," concludes that both an aggregate 40-Gbps multi-wavelength approach and a single-wavelength approach that would support 25 Gbps are worth considering.

The IEEE has released the results of an investigation into the necessity and potential requirements for EPON systems beyond the current top end of 10G EPON. The document, "IEEE 802.3™ Industry Connections Feasibility Assessment for the Next Generation of EPON," concludes that both an aggregate 40-Gbps multi-wavelength approach and a single-wavelength approach that would support 25 Gbps are worth considering.

The IEEE embarked on the investigation in 2014 (see "IEEE looks into EPON beyond 10 Gbps"). The group behind the new report sought input from a variety of sources, including network operators, system integrators, semiconductor vendors, and optical technology suppliers, among others.

While 10G EPON deployments are just beginning to pick up steam, the report authors learned that the industry expects there to be demand for even more bandwidth in the near future, as both residential and business services demands increase. The authors uncovered support for a pair of approaches for the next generation of EPON:

  1. a multi-wavelength (per-direction) EPON PHY with an aggregate downstream capacity of at least 40 Gbps (40G-EPON), with a path to 100 Gbps (100G-EPON).
  2. a single-wavelength (per direction) EPON PHY that would support symmetric rates of at least 25 Gbps (25G-EPON) or 25 Gbps downstream and 10 Gbps upstream (25/10G-EPON).

Two approaches might be needed because of the diversity of potential applications the next-generation of EPON might have to support, from residential services to mobile backhaul. "Not only are the technical requirements different in all these markets, but also the cost-to-performance objectives are different," states the report.

The report is an initial step towards the creation of new EPON standards. The report authors recommend the creation of a study group within the IEEE 802.3 Working Group to develop a Project Authorization Request, Criteria for Standards Development, and objectives for the potential new specifications. Should such a study group be formed and successfully complete its work, a Task Force would be created to develop the actual standards.

Finished next-generation EPON standards therefore would appear several years away.

The IEEE 802.3 report is available at http://www.ieee802.org/3/ad_hoc/ngepon/ng_epon_report.pdf.

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