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Passive Optical Network (PON): Fiber Optic Cable Voice, Video, Data

May 31, 2016

Passive Optical Network (PON): Fiber Optic Cable Voice, Video, Data

PONs, a versatile technology, is deployed by network operators who deliver advanced data, video and voice services to users by using fiber optic cables. PON is a very popular method to deliver fiber-to-the-desk (FTTD), fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), fiber-to-the-business (FTTB), fiber-to-the-MDU (FTTMdu) and many other FTTx locations.

PON fiber optic access networks have three components as listed below:

  • An optical distribution network (ODN) connecting the ONU to the OLT.
  • A number of optical network units (ONU) located close to users. ONUs are often referred to as ONTs (optical network terminals).
  • An optical line terminal (OLT) located at the service provider.

PON technology provides more bandwidth and also reduces the amount of cooling, power and fiber needed when compared to point-to-point architectures. It also makes network management and design simpler. Although PON is a point-to-multipoint topology, encryption of transmissions prevents eavesdropping. This makes PON ideal to use for organizations needing secure communications including banks and government.

PON is different from other fiber solutions because it bridges the gap between hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks and converted Ethernet/IP platforms. Radio Frequency over Glass (RFoG or RF PON) solutions for example support expanding the PON fiber infrastructure while the current back office systems, CPE and headend can still be used. One drawback of RFoG networks is that they have the same limitations for upstream bandwidth as does an HFC network.

When the network evolution demands a step to a converged Ethernet/IP platform using an optical infrastructure, RFoG does not require future investment in infrastructure. An Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) can be overlaid on the RFoG network when customer demand necessitates an increase in bandwidth for critical customers. This will off-load the HFC/DOCSIS network, add additional downstream bandwidth and eradicate upstream limitations of the HFC.

All network operators, whether they have small private networks, or run massive public ones, have contend with supplying ever-increasing bandwidth. In rural areas and any other area with a low population density, it is expensive to deploy FTTH. This is the reason why municipalities, telecom and electric power cooperatives have entered the broadband operator's field. They want to provide their users in rural communities with high-speed broadband services. One way in which bandwidth and additional service options can be delivered to all their users is by deploying PON.

Any comments on this topic? Please share your thoughts below for other readers. Thank you.

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  • Stepping back in time to 2017 then looking at today’s post-pandemic era reminds me how many people still need high speed Internet. It’s certainly not limited to rural areas as the pandemic exposed how many low-income homes in the city lacked adequate Internet for distance learning. I don’t know how bad the problem is outside the U.S., but there’s no reason we should let it continue here.

    Charles Gregory on
  • I appreciate when someone takes a highly technical topic such as active optical networks and passive optical networks. This is a helpful passive optical network introduction and I’m hoping to get more information on gpon too (basically a gpon technology overview). I know the meaning of “gpon” is gigabit passive optical networks however I’m unsure of gpon vs. epon (ethernet passive optical networks) and how the two compare. In a world of constant demand for bandwidth, these technologies are needed more than ever, and people need to understand the basics of how they operate (at least I think so).

    Lance J. Norton on
  • My friends still have trouble getting high-speed Internet. I am going to talk to them about this because I never heard of Passive Optical Networks and I don’t think they did either. Everyone wants high-speed broadband services no matter if they live in the city or out in the country. People looking for high-speed broadband should check their options out just as anyone would looking to power up a weak cell phone signal with a cell phone booster.

    Sonny Wheaton on
  • This blog answered a question me and my friends have been asking for about 20 years- why can’t rural areas have high-speed Internet? It’s bad enough that we have weak cell phone signals because of towers being so far away (although we have heard cell phone boosters can help with this problem). A PON sounds like it might be the thing we need to finally get high-speed Internet. Anyone else in the country had a chance for this?

    J.J. Kaufman on

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