Ethernet Alliance subcommittee tackles Ethernet in access networks

May 13, 2013
A new Ethernet Alliance Access Networking subcommittee will attempt to promote the use of Ethernet in broadband access networks. In particular, the subcommittee will attempt to combat the perception that EPON interest is limited to Asian carriers.

A new Ethernet Alliance Access Networking subcommittee will attempt to promote the use of Ethernet in broadband access networks. In particular, the subcommittee will attempt to combat the perception that EPON interest is limited to Asian carriers.

The subcommittee is one of three the Ethernet Alliance announced May 9. The other two cover the IEEE’s recently inaugurated work on a 400 Gigabit Ethernet standard (see “IEEE 802.3 400 Gigabit Ethernet Study Group chair warms to task”) and an alliance roadmap effort, respectively.

The Access Networking subcommittee will build on the technology and applications covered within Ethernet in the First mile. This includes both copper-based and fiber to the premises (FTTP) applications, as well as wired Ethernet connections to cell sites, says Howard Frazier, a board member of the Ethernet Alliance as well as senior technical director of the Infrastructure and Networking Group within the office of the CTO at Broadcom Corp. The committee’s goal will be to educate technology developers and users about what Ethernet technology is available, how it’s being used, and what new developments may be on the horizon.

EPON will provide a particular focus, Frazier said. While the technology is well entrenched in Asia, Frazier believes that many see GPON as the only game in town in the U.S. and Europe. This perception ignores the inroads EPON is making among cable MSOs, he asserted. For example, Cable Labs has developed specifications for DOCSIS Provisioning of EPON (DPoE); meanwhile, the IEEE’s current efforts to develop specifications for EPON over coax (EPoC – see “IEEE EPON over coax standards work kicks off”) promise to make the technology even more accessible to cable operators.

Cable MSOs and others also are interested in what will come after 10G EPON, which is currently starting to roll out in Asia. The subcommittee will attempt to gather input on what speed might make the most sense, Frazier added.

One thing the subcommittee is unlikely to expend much energy doing is convincing Western carriers to move off of GPON. “I choose not to push a rock uphill,” Frazier said of such a potential effort.

Instead, the subcommittee likely will start by dusting off a whitepaper written some time ago that describes Ethernet in the First Mile and the technologies involved. Frazier said that the subcommittee welcomes participation in its meetings, which will be held on a monthly basis. Those interested can learn more by visiting the Ethernet Alliance’s website.

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