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.
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