Energy-efficient point-to-point optical transceiver, virtual home gateway are latest from GreenTouch Consortium

GreenTouch, a global ICT consortium focused on improving the energy efficiency of communications networks, has complemented its earlier work on energy-saving PON architectures (see "Bit-Interleaved PON offers dramatic FTTH power savings, says GreenTouch") with two new ideas aimed at broadband access networks. The group has unveiled designs for a point-to-point optical transceiver and virtual home gateway that GreenTouch asserts could reduce wireline access network energy consumption by a combined 46%.

GreenTouch, a global ICT consortium focused on improving the energy efficiency of communications networks, has complemented its earlier work on energy-saving PON architectures (see "Bit-Interleaved PON offers dramatic FTTH power savings, says GreenTouch") with two new ideas aimed at broadband access networks. The group has unveiled designs for a point-to-point optical transceiver and virtual home gateway that GreenTouch asserts could reduce wireline access network energy consumption by a combined 46%.

The new Point-to-Point Optical Transceiver project, led by a team of researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) at the University of Melbourne and Bell Labs/Alcatel-Lucent, would benefit connections to and within enterprises and perhaps within homes or multiple dwelling units, according to Thierry Van Landegem, GreenTouch chairman, and Thierry Klein, chairman of the GreenTouch Technical Committee. (The BI-PON architecture remains the most energy-efficient approach for fiber to the home, the sources said.) The design features a custom-built ASIC that can adopt power consumption based on the requirements of the link, which obviates the requirement to design the module for a single, worst case scenario. For a 1-Gbps 20-km link, lab tests have shown that optical module power consumption would drop from an average of 800 mW to less than 25 mW, the two asserted.

Meanwhile, the virtual home gateway fits well within current discussions of cloud-based and software-defined networking (SDN) enabled platforms, the sources said. The Virtual Home Gateway project, led by a team at the Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France, has demonstrated a 19% reduction in access network power requirements as well as enabling service providers to more easily control and maintain services. The project members also created a distributed architecture for the servers that enables service providers to shut down some of the servers during slow periods.

The two new projects have advanced as far as proof of concept; the BI-PON architecture has yet to see deployment because changes to existing PON standards would be required, Klein said. The consortium expects to complete its mission in June 2015, at which time it will summarize its findings and announce its complete technology portfolio.

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