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40G passive optical networks eye TWDM

Posted: 20 Jul 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:optical network  Ethernet  NG-PON2 

The Full Service Access Network, an alliance of about 85 telecom providers and their vendors, picked a technical proposal for 40Gbit/second passive optical networks. The group is hammering out details of its recommendations in hopes they can be ratified as standards next year and emerge in shipping systems in 2015.

The FSAN group culled more than a dozen proposals down to one supported by several companies including Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and ZTE that calls for use of time and wavelength division multiplexed (TWDM) technology. The proposal includes optional support for a wavelength division multiplexed overlay backed by Nokia Siemens Networks among others.

The group will submit its recommendations to the International Telecommunications Union for inclusion in the so-called NG-PON2 standard. It is the follow on to today's XGPON technology that delivers 10Gbit/s downstream and 2.5Gbit/s upstream.

The proposal calls for supporting a stack of at least four wavelengths each carrying 10Gbit/s of data. Engineers have discussed versions of the technology using as many as eight wavelengths to deliver 80Gbit/s to end users and a quarter of that capacity upstream to the carrier network.

"The easiest thing about TWDM is it's a known, proven technology and at least some components are already available for aspects of the system," said Martin Carroll, chairman of FSAN and a distinguished member of technical staff at Verizon. "Operators unanimously agreed that was the technology we wanted to focus on," he said.

Engineers must now fit which wavelengths the new technology will use into existing optical spectrum bands operators have dedicated to PONs, RF video and other applications, said Carroll. The proposal is expected to support distances of 40km without field amplifiers.

"That's a huge challenge with the technology today," he said.

The FSAN group is one of a handful working on bolstering next-generation optical networking speeds.

An IEEE group is meeting this week to discuss the future of Ethernet. One working group is debating multiple proposals for lowering the costs of today's 100Gbit/s Ethernet to accelerate deployments of the technology. Another is continuing work to assess the next big leap which has included a debate between advocates of 400Gbit/s and those favouring a terabit/s.

Meanwhile, the Optical Internetworking Group met last week, hammering out a handful of proposals for 100 and 400Gbit/s interfaces. The group also hosted a workshop on software-defined networking.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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